9 months ago

Kirk Herbstreit on Tua: ‘He’s finding ways to lift up the spirits of everybody, including me’ — Chance of return is ’50-50′

Kirk Herbstreit provided some fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into Tua Tagovailoa’s approach to football and life on a recent edition of the ESPN College Football Podcast.

Herbstreit assessed what he thinks Tua’s chances to return to the Crimson Tide are based on his interview which aired on ESPN last week.

“It might sound crazy, but in college football these players still care about winning,” Herbstreit said. “Listening to Tua, there’s part of him that is not comfortable with how he went out.”

Considering those difficult circumstances, Herbstreit believes leading the Crimson Tide for another season is definitely on the table for Tua.

“I would guess it’s still 50-50 right now, and then in the next few weeks he’s going to let everybody know his intentions,” he remarked. “But I think he’s honestly, really back and forth at this point.”

Herbstreit pointed out that one of the highlights of his interview with Tua was being able to also speak with his parents.

Tua’s parents recounted to Herbstreit their first time seeing Tua after his injury.

“They kept talking about how emotional it was and everything they’d been through,” he said. “They kept talking about, ‘We’d go down and try to talk to him in the locker room and here’s Tua making us feel better. We’re trying to console him and he’s making us feel better.’”

Herbstreit then asked them where Tua got his uplifting spirit from.

“His mom paused for a second and then she just started weeping and like just crying about basically how much they love Tua, how much they appreciate him, almost like, ‘Why do we deserve a son like this? What did we do to deserve this?’ Not just his abilities but his spirit most importantly. She was just overcome with emotion. Even his father who is very stoic and very proud, he was as well.”

Having an opportunity to spend time with Tua enabled Herbstreit to gain a better understanding of the Tide quarterback’s character.

“He’s wired different,” elaborated Herbstreit. “He’s unique.”

ESPN’s star college football analyst continued, “He doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He’s not sitting around feeling sad. He’s finding ways to lift up the spirits of everybody, including me. I got done with him, like I felt better just about life, about people, about humanity when I got done sitting down with him.”

Herbstreit expressed his appreciation for Tua no matter what decision he makes about his future.

“He’s a special kid,” he concluded. “He’s one-of-a-kind, he really is.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

23 mins ago

Montgomery’s Joe Espy rolls off University of Alabama System board of trustees

Joe Espy III on Thursday served his final meeting as a member of the University of Alabama System board of trustees.

Espy, a world-class attorney based in Montgomery, has served on the prestigious board since 2000 representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1969, earning a Bachelor’s Degree through the School of Commerce and Business Administration after serving as SGA president. Espy then graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1972 from the University of Alabama School of Law.

The distinguished trial lawyer would go on to serve three terms as president pro tem of the UA System board of trustees. Espy has previously been named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s annual list of the most powerful and influential Alabamians.

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His departure from the UA System board is due to Espy no longer being eligible for another term because of the maximum age limit.

He is now a trustee emeritus, joining a list of legendary Alabamians who hold the same title.

Fellow trustees honored Espy at the conclusion of Thursday’s business with a formal resolution and a slew of glowing remarks.

Trustee Karen Brooks of the Seventh Congressional District moved to consider the resolution while holding up a small placard with Espy’s headshot on it. She also displayed a poster containing several Espy images in the background behind her, with the meeting being held virtually and live streamed.

Judge John England, Jr., also representing the Seventh Congressional District, was the first to speak.

“You know, I have to be careful,” England quipped. “You can’t say too many good things about lawyers.”

England continued to praise Espy as “a man of integrity” who “cares about this state, this [System] and the people in this state.”

“One of the things I’ve learned on this board is that it’s an honor to serve, but it’s an even greater honor to be able to serve with individuals like Joe Espy,” England commented. “And I mean that.”

RELATED: UA System Board of Trustees names freshman hall for John England, Jr.

Trustee Marietta Urquhart of the First Congressional District spoke next.

She lauded Espy’s record of “servant leadership,” calling him “an example to us all.”

Urquhart added that trustees moving forward will be using the litmus test of, “What would Joe Espy do?” when making tough decisions.

Next up was Brooks.

“I’ll tell you, you have been our quarterback,” she said to Espy.

“We are eternally grateful to you for being our friend and for being such a great leader,” Brooks remarked. “The legacy I hope you leave all of us is ‘put students first.’ Your passion for students is second to none.”

She outlined that she will be taking her Espy placard to every subsequent meeting to remind the board to “put the students first.”

“Matter of fact, I think I’ll give each trustee one,” Brooks stated.

Outgoing pro tem Ron Gray of the Fifth Congressional District concluded the remarks.

“Joe, this board, the University of Alabama System and the state of Alabama owes you a debt of gratitude for your 20 years of service on this board,” Gray said. “Thank you for your service and steadfast leadership.”

Following the unanimous passage of the resolution celebrating and honoring Espy’s exemplary service, the man himself delivered some brief remarks and humbly thanked his fellow trustees.

WATCH:

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

1 hour ago

What impact will Chad Morris have on the Auburn offense in 2020?

Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris’ relationship stretches back decades at this point. When Morris was hired, he told the story of badgering Malzahn for information on his innovative offensive style multiple times until finally wearing him down into sharing some secrets when they were high school coaches in Texas and Arkansas, respectively.

Those early interactions paved the way to a friendship between two men that would eventually walk many of the same roads from coaching in high school to the SEC.

When Morris was let go as Arkansas’ head coach in 2019, it did not take long for the two friends to decide to work together in 2020. In a normal offseason the biggest story for Auburn football would have been the hiring of Chad Morris as offensive coordinator. Clearly, 2020 has been nowhere near normal.

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Today, we take a deeper look at potential impacts the new hire could have on The Plains this season. Morris’ input in the following three areas could unlock the Auburn offense’s full potential this year.

Passing Game
Gus Malzahn-led teams rarely have real issues running the football. The Auburn Tigers have run the ball more frequently and effectively than most teams in the country during Malzahn’s tenure. The aspect of the offense that often struggles to find consistency has been the passing game.

While Chad Morris patterned his offensive style directly after Malzahn, in the past decade he has had more production throwing the ball than his current head coach. It appears that Chad Morris simply likes to throw the ball more than Malzahn. In the 10 seasons that Morris has been a college coach, his offenses have attempted at least 34 pass attempts a game nine times. Malzahn, on the other hand, has never had a season where his team attempted more than 30 passes per game.

Beyond a sheer disparity in volume, there is also a difference in the kind of passes that the offenses frequently attempt. Chad Morris was a much earlier adopter of the RPO (run-pass option) and also tends to have more passes target the middle of the field. Malzahn’s passing game has been primarily based around deep shots off play action or various screens that attack the perimeter quickly.

All of those passing schemes (and more) are effective when called cleverly and executed properly. It will likely be an indication of Morris’ involvement if the Tigers average somewhere near 35 pass attempts per game with more targets happening over the middle of the field this season.

Personnel
When referencing personnel, we are simply pointing out the grouping of players on the field and how they are deployed on a given play. Gus Malzahn tends to favor two backs (tailback and H-back) and three receivers. Chad Morris on the other hand, has deployed one tailback, one tight end and three receivers as his most common grouping.

The use of an H-back versus a tight end may seem small, but it can lead to pretty significant differences in the choices that opposing defenses make to counter an offense. Some tight ends and H-backs are interchangeable, which can be a strength if used creatively. However, most H-backs are primarily blockers (like an I-formation fullback), whereas tight ends are valuable targets over the middle of the field in the passing game and valuable blockers on the edge in the running attack.

For example, last season at Arkansas, TE Cheyene O’Grady accounted for 33 catches for 372 yards along with three touchdown receptions in only seven games played. By contrast, Auburn’s John Samuel Shenker and Harold Joiner combined for nine catches, 129 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games last season.

Chad Morris’ history of using the tight end along with a renewed focus on recruiting the tight end position my signal more use of that position going forward. Expect to see a continuation of the use of an H-back, but a dramatic uptick in the use of the tight end position could point to Chad Morris exerting his influence on the gameplan.

Pace
Auburn fans are likely familiar with the fact that Gus Malzahn literally wrote the book on the hurry up no huddle offense. Clearly, the use of pace was one of the key factors in Malzahn’s rise as coach, and it continues to be a weapon today.

However, last week when Chad Morris addressed the media, he seemed to indicate a slightly different take on how an offense’s pace of play should be used in today’s game. In Morris’ opinion, it is now less important to snap the ball as quickly as possible every play than it is to be able to change the speed of play effectively.

Morris conveyed that he hopes to use versatile players that are able to line up in different places and perform multiple skills so that when Auburn gains an advantage in matchups, the offense can then speed up to require the defense to remain on the field and at a disadvantage.

It will be interesting to see if a revamped passing game, new personnel groupings, varied pace or any other noticeable wrinkles, coincide with Chad Morris’ arrival on The Plains this fall.

Auburn’s offense must take the next step to being a consistently explosive group this year to contend for the SEC championship. If Morris can facilitate that production, then the Tigers will have a chance to make the 2020 season one that Auburn fans remember fondly for years to come.

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

Regions Bank offering disaster recovery assistance to Alabama customers impacted by Sally

Regions Bank on Thursday evening announced a series of generous financial services that are available to help people and businesses in portions of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi that were negatively affected by Hurricane Sally this week.

According to the Birmingham-based company, options include payment extensions, the waiving of certain fees and interest rate discounts, along with additional offers.

“Regions Bank has been part of the Gulf Coast and our inland communities for many years, and we will be here in the days, weeks and months to come as storm recovery moves forward,” stated John Turner, president and CEO of Regions Financial Corp.

“These financial services are designed to make the recovery easier, and we encourage all customers impacted by Sally to contact us and discuss your individual needs,” he continued.

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Disaster recovery financial services available for a limited time will include the following:

  • No check-cashing fee for FEMA-issued checks cashed at Regions branches in impacted areas
  • Regions Mortgage Disaster Relief Purchase and Renovation loan programs
  • Personal and business loan payment assistance
  • Regions fees will be waived when the bank’s customers use other banks’ ATMs in the impacted areas for 30 days beginning Friday, Sept. 18
  • One penalty-free CD withdrawal
  • An interest rate discount of 0.50% on new personal unsecured loans
  • Business loan payment deferrals available up to 90 days beginning Friday, Sept. 18
  • Payment extensions available for qualified credit card holders
  • An interest rate discount of 0.50% on standard rates for new business loans and/or lines of credit up to $1 million to help with recovery needs in affected areas
  • An interest rate discount of 0.50% on a new unsecured business term loan of up to $50,000 with a term of up to 36 months, including waived origination or loan document fees and options for the first payment to be deferred up to 90 days

People and businesses in need of assistance are encouraged to contact Regions to discuss individual needs and sign up for applicable services.

More information from Regions can be accessed here.

Additionally, for questions regarding a mortgage, customers can call Regions  at 1-800-986-2462. For assistance regarding home equity and other consumer loans, dial 1-866-298-1113. The general number of 1-800-411-9393 is available for help with other questions and general banking needs.

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

14 hours ago

One of Alabama’s richest men kidnapped in Birmingham home; Suspects arrested

Elton B. Stephens, Jr., the retired CEO of EBSCO Industries, was reportedly kidnapped from his bed last Friday and held for ransom. He is currently safe, and two suspects are in custody.

EBSCO is one of the state’s largest privately held companies, with annual sales of about $3.2 billion as of 2018 counting subsidiaries. Stephens is the son of the company’s late founder. Their family was estimated to have a net worth of $4 billion as of 2014, per Forbes.

Alabama Media Group on Thursday reported that Blount County’s Matthew Amos Burke, 34, and Tabatha Nicole Hodges, 33, have been charged with burglary, kidnapping an adult for ransom, extortion and theft of property.

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The pair allegedly broke into a Birmingham home Stephens is renting in the early morning hours of this past Friday. When Stephens awoke that morning, Burke was standing over him, per reports.

Burke and Hodges are alleged to have robbed the house of valuables and three firearms.

They reportedly threatened to kill Stephens if he did not comply with them or if he attempted to call for help.

“They took him to a trailer in St. Clair County where they had him wire $250,000 into their account. They returned him to his home about 4:30 p.m. [on Friday]. Police were called,” Alabama Media Group wrote.

Law enforcement officials declined comment on the pending case. Stephens says he did not previously know the suspects.

Stephens’ attorney released a statement, saying: “Elton Stephens Jr. was kidnapped in a home invasion last Friday. I ask that his privacy be respected by the press and the public to allow him time and space to process and deal with these very traumatizing circumstances.”

“We are thankful and grateful for the hard work of the Birmingham Police Department, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney’s office for their hard work in investigating this horrid life experience for Mr. Stephens,” the attorney concluded.

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

15 hours ago

Winston Groom, beloved Alabamian and author of Forrest Gump, dies at 77

Winston Groom, Army veteran, Alabamian, and writer of the bestselling novel Forrest Gump, passed away recently at his home near Fairhope at the age of 77.

The Tuscaloosa News first reported the news of Groom’s death, citing confirmation from a local official with the City of Fairhope.

Groom was born in Washington, D.C., but spent most of his life in the Yellowhammer State. He spent his childhood in Mobile and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965.

While in Tuscaloosa, Groom was in the ROTC. Groom served in the U.S. Army after graduation, rising to the rank of captain and serving a combat tour during the Vietnam War.

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The author lived in both Washington and New York after leaving the armed forces, during which time he transitioned from journalism to authoring books.

According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, Groom returned to Mobile in 1985 at which point he began work on what would become his career-defining work, Forrest Gump, which published in 1986.

The book did not immediately leap off the shelves. It was the runaway success of the 1994 movie that catapulted Forrest Gump to the top of bestsellers lists across the nation.

As noted by many, Groom’s novel is quite different from the best picture winning film that made its central figure a pop-culture touchstone.

“Most writers never put a character into the popular imagination … but Winston did,” Don Noble, professor emeritus of English at the University of Alabama and a longtime friend of Groom’s told the Tuscaloosa News.

Groom was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame in 2018, he is survived by his wife and a daughter.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95