1 month ago

College football already has a leader and he’s in Alabama

As two college football conferences muddled their way through season cancellations this week, loud cries rang out for a centralized leader of the sport.

The poor decision-making in those conferences could have been prevented by a single, national voice coordinating the process, they say. Without a doubt, the players, coaches and universities in the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have been failed by their leadership. There’s no need, though, to make this more complicated than it needs to be.

Contrary to what you may have heard the past week, college football does have a leader.

And he’s right here in Alabama.

Greg Sankey, commissioner of the SEC, has navigated the most challenging year in college football history with a steadiness envied by other programs not fortunate enough to be part of the nation’s reigning conference.

Had other conference commissioners followed Sankey’s leadership model, they would not be in such a self-inflicted mess.

Sankey’s approach has been methodical. He and the conference’s member institutions have been steadfast in their reliance upon medical professionals in assessing player safety and establishing essential protocols. Some of the world’s most renowned physicians and researchers reside within the SEC’s footprint, and Sankey and his university leaders have counted on their input from the beginning of the pandemic.

In addition, Sankey has displayed a thoughtfulness throughout the process. There has not been a day when the SEC appeared not to have a plan.

Perhaps the least thoughtful people in all this have been the national sports media. Listening to them, one would believe blame for the current state of the season should fall on nearly everyone except the virus itself. A popular target is the NCAA. Sports media hysteria at one point reached such a fevered pitch that Dabo Swinney and Danny Kannell found themselves in the crosshairs. Columnist Pat Forde went on a wild rant blaming President Donald Trump for the cancellation of football games.

The unhinged nature of sports media comes from its view of the college sports world. No one really thinks sports media wants to kill the season and risk losing their jobs. But they are in conflict. They believe college football players are exploited and, in their view, chaos will topple the power structure for which they have so much disdain.

That notion demonstrates the complete lack of thought on the part of sports media, and it is where the conflict comes in. Sports media wants to punish the power structure of college football but in doing so the season may get blown up and players, coaches and college communities become collateral damage.

Not to be outdone by sports media, the appointed authorities of the Big Ten turned their process into a complete debacle, leaving behind scant evidence of any thought whatsoever.

Almost immediately after announcing its schedule, the Big Ten decided to cancel the season. Its leaders leaked the news out as a trial balloon.

When that did not go well, the Big Ten gave the go-ahead to reporters on a scary health report it had already leaked out. Astonished that other conferences not named the Pac-12 had failed to bend at the knee to its decision, the Big Ten backtracked until it ultimately announced it would pursue an unrealistic spring football season.

There are a few reasons why the Big Ten plan is so bad. Chief among them is that nothing changes except Saturdays. Teams are allowed to continue to practice and meet 20 hours per week, and players will continue normal campus activities with tens of thousands of other students. But simply playing on Saturdays was deemed too dangerous.

Then there are the unintended consequences. Noted quarterback guru and private coach Quincy Avery has already said he will help organize national 7-on-7 leagues for players unable to showcase their skills this fall. Do not expect those players to receive anything close to the carefully monitored care they would receive in-season as part of a college football program.

Unsurprisingly, national sports media has failed to scrutinize any of the holes in the Big Ten plan and its unintended consequences. Media member Stewart Mandel said that players in conferences still playing should demand some sort of an accounting of medical advice received by those conferences. Fox analyst and former college quarterback Joel Klatt smartly pointed out that it is the players being denied the opportunity to play that deserve an explanation.

Sankey’s methodical and thoughtful leadership was on full display Monday while chaos and misinformation erupted in other conferences.

In a timely social media post he wrote:

Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: “Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day.” [The SEC] has been deliberate at each step since March…slowed return to practice…delayed 1st game to respect start of fall semester… Deveoped [sic] testing protocols…We know concerns remain. We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so…every day.

Numerous players and coaches in the Big Ten have complained about a lack of communication coming from conference leadership. The absence of similar complaints in the SEC is notable. Integral to Sankey’s leadership model has been a commitment to communication.

Under Sankey, the SEC has gathered information, set benchmarks, met benchmarks and explained its process along the way. “One step at a time,” he cautioned.

As the opening week of college football season nears, no one really knows whether the season will get started, much less completed. But Sankey has put his conference in the best position possible to handle these extraordinary circumstances.

In the aftermath of whatever happens, the lesson is not to create a king of college football. The lesson is for conference commissioners to do their homework, stick to their plan and keep the lines of communication open in all that they do.

College football does not need a czar. It needs its leaders to simply be like Sankey.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

14 hours ago

Three takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart

At long last, it is game week for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn and Kentucky will kick off this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on the SEC Network. In advance of the contest, head coach Gus Malzahn released Auburn’s week one depth chart on Tuesday. A number of questions that Auburn fans may have are directly addressed with this new information. However, the news on the depth chart may also raise a few eyebrows in relation to the defensive line and secondary, specifically.

Undoubtedly, players will move up or down the depth chart over the course of the season based on quality of play, injury, COVID-19 protocol or weekly changes to the gameplan. But, the initial depth chart gives fans insight into who some of the impact players for Auburn in 2020 will be.

Let’s take a look at three key takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart:

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New-look offensive line
Coming into the season, it was known that Auburn would have a number of new faces on the offensive line after graduating four of the five starters from last year’s group. The new depth chart now gives clarity to who the Tigers expect to make up the unit in 2020.

Nick Brahms is the only returning starter and retains his spot at the center position. The starters at guard are Tashawn Manning and graduate transfer Brandon Council, respectively. As expected, Brodarious Hamm has earned the starting slot at the right tackle position. The only ambiguity in the offensive line position group is at left tackle with Alec Jackson OR Austin Troxell listed as the starter. This indicates that Auburn considers these six players the top options for the five available spots.

It will be critical this season that all six “starters” and the guys listed second or third on the depth chart are ready to perform this year at a position that is often affected by injury and could always have players unavailable due to COVID-19. It was widely known that the success of the offensive line would be key to Auburn having a productive offense this year, we now know the individuals who have earned the first chance to make that happen.

18 true freshmen make an appearance

Although no true freshmen are listed as first-teamers, these young players are littered throughout the Auburn depth chart. Seven newcomers appear on the offensive side of the ball, 10 freshmen made the depth chart on defense and Australian import Oscar Chapman is listed as the potential starter at punter.

This is an impressive showing from the 2020 signing class and may signal great things to come for Auburn. Having quality depth is always important, but this year with a 10-game conference-only schedule, no spring practice and contact tracing procedures that could sideline players by the handful, many of these young men will be called upon in the here and now.

Only time will tell which of these players’ impacts will shape the Tigers’ season this fall, but history tells us that these young athletes will be called upon to deliver in high leverage moments this year. Whether or not they are up to the challenge is likely to determine the outcome of some games and even the season itself.

Surprises on the defensive side of the ball

Kevin Steele’s side of the ball has been one of the most consistent units in college football since his arrival in 2016. He and his staff have developed a clear plan of attack, a successful way of working together and an eye for players that fit the scheme. So, even if there are some shocks, Steele has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

One of the surprises is the starting cornerback opposite of Roger McCreary. Last week, Steele indicated that there were up to five players competing for that position, so it is not a complete shock that redshirt freshman Jaylin Simpson earned the starting spot against Kentucky. However, many would have guessed that Marco Domio, who was just signed from junior college, or Nehemiah Pritchett would be the last man standing in the competition. Simpson does not have much experience, but if Steele and company trust him to get the job done, then that is a pretty good endorsement.

The most unforeseen developments on the depth chart occur on the defensive line. Colby Wooden starting at defensive tackle is not something that has been discussed anywhere until today. Kevin Steele spoke highly of Wooden last week in his press conference, but the redshirt freshman who signed as a defensive end last year earning the tackle spot next to Tyrone Truesdell was still pretty shocking.

Another unexpected outcome is that four true freshmen are listed on the defensive line depth chart, including Jeremiah Wright, who signed as an offensive lineman in December. Seeing Zykevious Walker listed at defensive tackle ahead of the two junior college defensive linemen that Rodney Garner signed in January may also catch fans off guard.

Coach Garner and coach Steele have a proven track record of getting defensive linemen ready to play in the SEC, but it may just be that the athletes getting the most opportunities in the trenches this year are a little more green than we are used to seeing.

Bonus takeaway

How about Shaun Shivers? Listed at only 5-7 and 179 lbs, Shivers earned the starting spot at tailback and was named one of the team captains. I am a little bit skeptical that Shivers will be an every-down back, but what an accomplishment for a guy who has been doubted because of his size throughout his entire career.

See the whole depth chart:

Twitter/ @byNathanKing

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

14 hours ago

Kim Caudle Lewis is a 2020 Woman of Impact

Kim Caudle Lewis, born and raised in the small southern Madison County town of Triana, has been devoted to North Alabama her entire life.

An entrepreneur and trailblazer, her hard work and intentionality have combined over the years to foster a personal brand built on innovation.

Lewis earned a Computer Information Systems degree from John C. Calhoun State Community College. She then embarked on a career specializing in healthcare information technology consulting.

That foundation was key to Lewis in 2002 starting Project XYZ in partnership with Larry Lewis, who is now her husband. With his experience in government contracting and her expertise in IT and technical solution services, the company has flourished with Mrs. Lewis serving as CEO.

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Indeed, ProjectXYZ has grown from a concept into a national leader with more than 100 employees. The company provides customer support in engineering, logistics, information technology and alternative energy sectors, including the Rocket City’s bedrock aerospace and defense industries.

The company’s success under Lewis’ exemplary leadership has brought about national accolades.

For example, Project XYZ over the past decade was named to Inc. 5000’s annual list of the United States’ fastest growing companies four separate times.

The company has further been honored for its quality of work. This includes being recognized as the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year in 2015; earning the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon award in 2016; and being named the U.S. Chamber Women-Owned Business of the Year in 2017.

However, it has not always been easy going, as Lewis explained in a recent interview with Yellowhammer News. She spoke about the unique hurdles in being a black female in traditionally male-dominated industries.

“It took time to prove that you could do the job and to get out there and do it in a way that you felt comfortable with,” she explained. “So, it was challenging at first.”

However, as she and the company proved themselves, navigating those obstacles became smoother. Lewis also said that the environment has improved — and continues to get better — with the Huntsville’s area booming growth. This is something she has been able to witness over the years being a native of the area.

“You’re seeing more diversity, you’re seeing more inclusion of people from all walks of life. … We’ve got a long way to go to make sure it’s completely equal for all parts, but I think it’s slowly striving to get to that point,” she advised.

Lewis explained that having a diverse team working on projects has tangible positive benefits for businesses, saying diversity opens “a world of opportunity.”

“When you’ve got a lot of people in the room with different ideas and different ways of thinking, there may be an easier, smarter, simpler way to do it [that you find],” she noted. “I think the more voices you have in the room — voices from different communities, different backgrounds, different experiences — helps.”

While her stewardship has worked wonders for her company, Lewis has been equally active and successful in her extensive civic and non-profit endeavors in and around Huntsville.

Perhaps the highlight of her CV in this regard was being chosen as the first black woman in history to serve as the chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, a position in which she served with distinction last year. In that role and others, Lewis continues to champion workforce development efforts, which are key as North Alabama and the state as a whole looks to advance its 21st century economy and prepare future generations for even greater successes.

Lewis told Yellowhammer News that it was a tremendous honor to serve as chair of the chamber in 2019.

“The chamber’s doing great things here in the community,” she remarked.

She has also served in various active volunteer leadership roles, such as a board member, of too many organizations to list; these organizations include the Calhoun Community College Foundation, Cummings Research Park, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, the Women’s Economic Development Council, Women in Defense, the National Defense Industrial Association and the North Alabama International Trade Association.

This broad spectrum of involvement aligns with another theme of Lewis’ career: diversification.

As if ProjectXYZ was not enough, Lewis’ business portfolio in recent years has been aggressively and strategically broadened to include multiple other upstart ventures.

This includes Kim’s Kloset, an online retail store specializing in trendy clothing, accessories and other fun lifestyle items.

Lewis and her husband are integrally involved with BizTech, a leading local business incubator for technology companies; the couple also recently bought an area television station and worked to bring celebrity chef Darnell Ferguson’s nationally renowned Superhero Chefs restaurant to Tuscumbia –with a second location already planned for Huntsville. Moreover, the Lewis family now owns a plastic injection molding company in the Shoals to serve North Alabama’s automotive manufacturing industry.

Looking back on her burgeoning career thus far, Lewis stated that one of the most rewarding aspects has been doing things in a way that is not necessarily traditional.

“I grew up the youngest of 10 kids,” Lewis said, “and never thought that I would be in the position I am in now to run a company that has — I think the last I counted — 243 employees total [across her ventures].”

“It’s a blessing. Because it’s not something that I ever dreamed about or thought that I would be doing now. But this position, it’s God-sent. That’s the best way to explain it,” she continued.

Her advice to young people looking to follow a similar path?

“Just realize, it is going to be a lot of sleepless nights — it is going to be a lot of times where it seems like the door is going to shut in front of you,” Lewis concluded. “What I’ve learned throughout the years is just because one person says ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean that’s ‘no’ to whatever your dream is. … If it’s something you truly believe in and you really want to work at, you’ve just got to keep going and keep trying.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Kim Caudle Lewis a 2020 Woman of Impact.

WATCH:

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through October 1. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Aderholt: ‘Can’t imagine’ Pelosi follows through with threat of impeachment to stop a Supreme Court justice nomination

With news that U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) is no longer a “good Republican” in the eyes of the media and their Democrats, it’s become clear that President Donald Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court has a good chance of being confirmed.

Democrats, with prodding from their handlers in the press, have decided they have to do something to stop this process.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and others in the media have urged Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to consider impeachment as an avenue to stall any process.

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She, publicly, seems to be open to this idea, but one of Alabama’s congressmen doesn’t think it’s a real serious threat. Instead, he sees it as more political theater from Democrats in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Tuesday and expressed doubt that Pelosi would actually attempt to do this.

“I can’t imagine that Pelosi and the Democrat majority would go forward with any kind of impeachment for these purposes,” he advised.

Aderholt called the gambit “hopeful shenanigans” and noted that the House “has no direct role in the confirmation for the court.”

Expressing a desire to turn down the temperature in Washington, Aderholt said, “It’s the president that selects a person to fill that seat, and then the Senate confirms them.”

He added a move like this would “make things crazy in Washington,” but would not really stop the process.

My takeaway:

Whether it is “shenanigans” or not, Pelosi is being pushed by her media and the base of the Democratic Party to put up a fight here. In the end, it will all be symbolic because if Sheffield, Alabama’s own U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to have the votes to get this replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg confirmed and if he decides he wants to do it, he clearly can.

Yellowhammer News’ Dale Jackson pushes for Mitch McConnell statue in Senate leader’s Alabama birthplace

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

16 hours ago

Playing by the rules: Trump should appoint new Supreme Court justice

For a nation which loves sports as much as our land does, there are still a select few who have yet to grasp the concept – to the victor goes the spoils.

Despite the temptation to provide participation trophies to all who wear a uniform as opposed to simply awarding those who win championships, there are still those of us who believe there are rewards for those who win. And for those who fall short, the incentive should be to try harder in the hopes of claiming those same spoils of victory the next time the scoreboard is lit.

A perfect example of this quandary is the current battle waging in Washington over whether or not President Donald Trump should move quickly to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created with the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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While my heart is moved for her family and friends in the loss of a loved one, I can still recall her constant stand for an assortment of left-wing causes during her tenure on the bench. Why is it we now live in a society where discussion must be all or nothing. I am still of the mind one can mark her passing without mourning the loss of her political views. I do not believe doing so makes me less of a Christian or a hard-hearted individual.

But while Democratic leadership in the nation’s capital is crying foul and claiming the president is playing politics by moving swiftly in this process, I counter by saying the commander-in-chief is simply doing his job.

President Trump was elected by Americans who wish to see the preservation of and a return to more traditional conservative values – those upon which this great land was founded. While I am unashamed to be a Christian, I am not even playing the religious card here. I believe there are still those in this land who may not profess the faith, but remain troubled by the dramatic shift away from law and order in our country. And heaven knows, Christians should be concerned.

While some might wish to differ, the president does not cease being president in an election year. The late justice Ginsburg has been quoted as saying as much in response to one of her own votes on the nation’s highest court. The president is elected to serve a full four-year term.

This president was elected, in large part, due to his promise to appoint conservative judges to the court. In short, he is living up to a campaign promise. This is what his loyal supporters are expecting in this moment.

And while we have all heard from the liberal left saying Republicans felt differently when President Obama was faced with a similar circumstance four years ago, these situations are not the same. Even when Obama was in office, the Republicans still controlled the U.S. Senate. And this is the body charged by the Constitution to confirm presidential nomination’s to the court.

Remember, there is a price for victory and defeat. If the Democrats want to have more say in this process, the party should focus attention on winning control of the senate and the oval office in the same term. This is how our nation’s founders created this game plan. These are the rules as they were written in the Constitution in 1787. Is it not ironic the nation commemorated Constitution Day only a day prior to Ginsburg’s passing?

Too often in today’s society, the liberals want to change the rules when they no longer suit their views. They want the remainder of the citizenry to move further left or simply toss the rules, on in this case, the Constitution, into the mounting debris of history we seem to be creating today.

But this is not what the forefathers envisioned. Those who created this nation needed more than a decade to draft the Constitution following the approval of the Declaration of Independence. There were squabbles over how the branches of government would function and how each would serve as a check and balance over the other. Our system was not designed for easy alteration … and current society is a perfect example as to why.

There is a method for changing current laws. It is called the legislative process. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have it within their powers to enact changes when we see a consistent miscarriage of justice. We have a tried and true method to improve our land – and the calculated process does not need the heavy-handed fist of a dictator, either. We never want to see our system fall under such tyranny.

Those we have elected already have the authority to improve upon an already excellent system. Introduce legislation and rally the support of the majority of congressional members. And in those extremely rare cases when this change elevates to the point of adding an amendment to the Constitution, gain the support needed to have the amendment ratified three-fourths of the state legislatures.

Implementing change to the foundational principles of our government was designed to be difficult. Denying the president those authorities given to him simply because it is an election year is not to be a part of the process.

And those who are not fond of the current process certainly have the right and a process to bring about the changes they may so desire. Remember: the United States of America is a nation of laws and those laws must be maintained and followed in order to preserve order and prevent chaos. Simply crying foul and pointing a finger of accusation toward the sitting president, regardless of party, serves no purpose other than playing to a congressional leader’s voting base back home.

There is a way to have more say in the appointment process … pull back from those extreme liberal views which are contrary to our nation’s foundation, win the presidency and the senate in the same election cycle and follow the rules as drafted in the Constitution. The process has served us well since the document was drafted some 233 years ago. And I am confident it will serve us well moving forward, if we simply remember to play by the rules.

State Representative Tracy Estes is a Republican representing House District 17, which includes Marion, Lamar and Winston Counties

17 hours ago

Mo Brooks heralded as national ‘rock star’ on border security, supporting American workers

Roy Beck, founder and president of NumbersUSA, in recent days named Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) as one of only nine congressional “rock stars “for his support of enhanced border security and defending American workers.

NumbersUSA is America’s largest grassroots border security organization and overall supports lower immigration levels. The group produces grades on each sitting member of Congress every term.

Brooks has scored an “A+” grade on NumbersUSA’s border security vote evaluation for this Congress, as well as for his career since 2011.

Writing for the NumbersUSA blog, Beck said Brooks and eight other members of the House “have achieved our top distinction in challenging the status quo of immigration policies that drive down wages and increase the non-employment of American workers.”

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“These nine didn’t limit themselves to challenging the destructive immigration status quo in just a few areas. Instead, they challenged the status quo across the board, including chain migration, visa lottery, rewards for illegal migration, birthright citizenship, unnecessary worker visas, and interior enforcement,” he added.

On Monday, Brooks released a lengthy statement on the recognition from NumbersUSA.

Full statement as follows:

With 8 million members, NumbersUSA is America’s largest grassroots border security organization and the leader in the fight to protect American workers from job losses and wage suppression caused by cheap foreign labor tsunamis. I’m honored to be named by NumbersUSA Founder & President Roy Beck as one of America’s nine (out of 435 Congressmen) ‘Rock Stars’ on border security issues.

America’s immigration and border security system is badly broken: chain migration, visa lottery, birthright citizenship, unnecessary worker visas, sieve-like borders for drug smugglers, and so on. American families need and deserve stronger border security and interior enforcement, merit based immigration, asylum reforms, and mandatory E-Verify. American job opportunities and wages would skyrocket if ‘Americans First’ immigration policies were enacted. I’m proud to be an ally for NumbersUSA in the fight for the immigration policies that best serve Americans.

Americans regularly rank border security as one of America’s most important issues. Rightfully so. Cheap illegal alien labor steals jobs and wages from hard-working and struggling American families. Worse yet, America’s porous southern border causes the deaths of 30,000+ Americans every single year (from illegal alien homicides and overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped across our porous southern border).

Unfortunately, America’s open-borders special interests (agriculture, construction, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many others) put their lust for profit and political power above the interests of Americans. In 2010, I promised to stand up to these special interests and do everything I can to secure America’s borders. I have kept my promise. But, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Roy Beck, the founder and president of America’s premier border security grassroots organization, NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA has examined Congress’s border security records and concluded that, over the past decade, no Member of Congress has stood stronger for American workers and families than has Mo Brooks.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn