The Wire

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

  • Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Season Closes July 22

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the closure of Alabama state waters to the harvest of red snapper by private anglers and state-licensed commercial party boats at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 22, 2018. The quota of 984,291 pounds issued under NOAA Fisheries’ Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) is expected to be met by the closure date.

    “Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure.

    “The purpose of the EFP was to demonstrate Alabama’s ability to establish a season and monitor landings within a fixed quota and I think we have shown we can do that,” said Bannon.

    Anglers are reminded of the following:

    — Possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
    — Alabama anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state’s rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
    — The season for federally-permitted charter for-hire vessels will close at 12:01 a.m. July 22.

4 weeks ago

Ray Perkins returns to Tuscaloosa but it’s his daughter working for Nick Saban

(Paul W. Bryant Museum)

Ray Perkins, who caught touchdown passes from Steve Sloan, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, is back in Tuscaloosa where his daughter now works for Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

The man who once said he would “walk to Tuscaloosa” to follow Paul “Bear” Bryant as coach of the Crimson Tide told Alabama NewsCenter he has bought a house and moved in.

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Rachel Perkins, who studies at the university on a Bear Bryant scholarship, helps Saban in football as a recruiting student assistant.

Perkins had nice things to say about scholarships that Bryant set up for former players and their sons and daughters.

“Coach Bryant had already made a list of people from Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama and asked them to start raising money to pay for scholarships to the sons and daughters of his players,” Perkins said. “Now who else would have thought to do that?”

Alabama won two national championships and three SEC championships when Perkins played in 1964, ‘65 and ‘66. Freshman were not eligible to play on the varsity then.

Perkins was coach of the NFL’s New York Giants when he left to coach the Crimson Tide.

What does the man who played for and succeeded arguably the best coach of all time think about the coach many believe has surpassed the legend?

“I think he takes advantage of every little thing,” Perkins said of Saban.

“Here’s where I’m coming from: I’ve always been of the opinion that my job as a coach was to help the guys who play the game.”

Perkins, now 76 years old, said he enjoyed his years in football, playing and coaching the game.

He was a team captain and an All-American in 1966 and a draft choice of the Baltimore Colts, where he joined another outstanding quarterback in Johnny Unitas.

Perkins caught a 68-yard touchdown from “Johnny U” in the 1970 American Football Conference championship game as the Colts beat the Oakland Raiders to earn a berth in the Super Bowl.

Perkins had quite a career in the NFL as coach of the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, Raidersand Chargers.

He grew up in Petal, Mississippi, and most recently was head football coach at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi.

Now that he is back in Alabama, Perkins has a house in the town where he is remembered for national championships, touchdown passes and his days playing for the Bear.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 months ago

Trump hails championship Alabama football team

President Donald Trump is hailing the University of Alabama football team’s “win for the ages” in their latest championship season.

Trump hosted Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban and the players at the White House on Tuesday to honor their fifth national title in nine years.

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The president attended the championship game in Atlanta, in which Alabama staged a second-half comeback to defeat Georgia, 26-23.

Trump watched the Jan. 8 game from a private box overlooking the Alabama sideline, flanked by ROTC students. The president departed the stadium during halftime as Georgia led Alabama 13-0.

Trump says Alabama’s triumph is “one of the greatest victories ever.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former Alabama senator, was among those on the South Lawn for team’s visit.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

3 months ago

Alabama’s Saban: The show will go on despite LeBron James complaint

(Alabama Football)

Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t scrapping a program that drew a complaint from LeBron James.

And James isn’t backing down, either.

On Monday, a representative for James sent a letter on his behalf to Alabama, claiming the Crimson Tide’s “Shop Talk” trailer uses “ideas, concepts and format” from a program on the digital media platform the Cavaliers’ superstar co-founded.

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Last year, James’ “Uninterrupted” aired “The Shop,” where the three-time NBA champion, Golden State forward Draymond Green and others talk in a barber shop.

Saban said he didn’t know about James’ show, and contends the concept isn’t new.

“I think LeBron James is a great player,” Saban said. “There’s been at least 20 barbershop-type things I’ve seen. I didn’t even know he had one. I’m sorry anybody could be offended by something we were just trying to have fun with. I enjoyed it and we’re going to continue to do it.”

Alabama released a trailer on Twitter for “Shop Talk” showing Saban and NFL receiver Julio Jones in a barber shop setting. “Uninterrupted” sent a letter to Alabama, citing concerns over copyright infringement and intellectual property.

Following Tuesday’s win over Toronto in Cleveland, James was told about Saban’s stance.

“That’s exactly what I would think he would say,” James said. “I built “Uninterrupted” for a reason and for us athletes to have a platform to be able to speak about whatever we want to talk about. I respect him as a coach, but I’ll be damned if I’ll allow someone to use our platform or try to do the same thing we’re doing and just think it’s OK.

“The lawyers will figure it out.”

Update: The name “Shop Talk” has been changed to “Bama Cuts”. Watch episode 1, part 2 here.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama QB Tagovailoa back throwing in practice after injury

(NFL/YouTube)

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is back throwing in practice.

Tagovailoa made some throws and handoffs Tuesday after injuring a finger on his left, throwing hand in the Crimson Tide’s first spring practice.

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Coach Nick Saban says Tagovailoa “has made a very nice recovery” over the past week. He said the freshman from Hawaii did have a broken bone but was able to grip the ball and “could throw a little bit.”

Tagovailoa is expected to compete with two-year starter Jalen Hurts for the starting job heading into next season.

The former five-star recruit came off the bench to lead the Tide to a comeback win in the national championship game against Georgia in January.

Saban says Tagovailoa has “a really good, positive attitude about it, and we feel good about where he’s heading.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

6 months ago

Kirby Smart supposedly took a picture that might put a damper on his friendship with Nick Saban

Kirby Smart and Nick Saban (Wikimedia Commons)
Kirby Smart and Nick Saban (Wikimedia Commons)

 

The national championship matchup has a lot of people speculating about the publicly cordial relationship between Nick Saban and his former Tide coaching colleague Kirby Smart, and a recent story by Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News adds, let’s just say, some drama to the mix.

“The Tuscaloosa News learned that on his way out the door, Smart took a picture of Alabama’s recruiting board, which hangs in the inner sanctum of the Alabama football building, and showed it to recruits who weren’t necessarily at the top of that board,” Suttles wrote. 

Why this matters: Recruiting in college football is as competitive as the games themselves. It’s so big, in fact, that it elicits publications and pundits to rank coaches in terms of how well they do it. If Smart actually took that picture, he not only disrespected his friend in Coach Saban and the entire Alabama team – he committed football treason.

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6 months ago

Left-wing activists call on Nick Saban to speak out against Trump’s NFL anthem protest criticisms, decline White House invite

(RollTide.com & White House/Flickr)

(RollTide.com & White House/Flickr)

 

 

In a press release issued Thursday, the liberal activist group CREDO Action boasted about a petition it claims that more than 72,000 people have signed calling on University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban to speak out against President Donald Trump.

The petition encourages Saban to “disavow” Trump’s criticism of the National Anthem protests by NFL players and to pledge to decline an invite to the White House should Alabama emerge victorious in Monday’s college football national championship game against the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

“Take a stand against Donald Trump’s racism. Disavow his hateful critique of NFL protesters who are speaking out against systemic racism and police brutality. Affirm your players’ right to protest and pledge not to take your team to the White House if you win the national championship.”

CREDO Action is the advocacy arm of CREDO, a self-proclaimed “social change organization” and offers fundraising methods for other liberal groups.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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7 months ago

That time Nick Saban chewed me out at a press conference

(ESPN/YouTube)

Looks like I have a new and improved excuse to stand firm as the only non-Crimson Tide fan in my family:

Nick Saban is my trigger.

I’ve been having some strange reactions to sports news lately but I couldn’t think why …

— First, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced that SEC Media Days will no longer be held exclusively at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.

Thinking about SEC Media Days made my eyes start to twitch.

— Then, Phillip Fulmer was named Tennessee’s acting athletic director after John Currie was fired.

My hands began to shake.

— Next, Saban’s defensive coordinator signed on as head football coach for the Volunteers.

SEC Media Days … Phillip Fulmer … Nick Saban … Tennessee … Alabama …

Something about it all made me break out in hives.

And then the memory came back, washing over me in one big wave.

Remember back in the early 2000s when Coach Fulmer was Tennessee’s head coach and he secretly told the SEC and NCAA about a University of Alabama booster who cheated to recruit players? All that led to an NCAA investigation, the booster’s conviction and probation for the Crimson Tide.

I was a news and sports intern at Birmingham’s WBRC in 2003 when Coach Fulmer was one controversial guy in Alabama.

I can’t remember the exact details (and calls and emails to WBRC did not receive a response), but someone in the sports department sent me — unsuspecting, no-clue-me — into SEC Media Days with one question for all the football coaches, along the lines of: “What do you think of what Coach Fulmer did by telling on Alabama?”

Can you even imagine how then-LSU Coach Saban reacted when he realized I was asking him to gossip?

Oh. My. Word.

Whatever he said sent me into a terrified stupor.

In my mind’s eye, he went from looking something like this:

(ESPN/YouTube)

To something like this but worse:

(Alabama Football/Facebook)

So, that’s right: If people can claim that Donald Trump and spiders are legitimate triggers, then I’m claiming Nick Saban as my trigger and that’s why I can’t cheer for Alabama to get to the National Championship (okay, okay I do respect the guy and won’t cry if they win).

Maybe a Saban chewing is a rite of passage? This AL.com YouTube video from Josh Snead says it all (I feel ya, Josh):

 

 

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammernews.com.

(Are you scared of Coach Saban? What would you ask him at a press conference?)

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7 months ago

Rick or Bubba? Who received more write-in votes for Alabama’s senator?

Rick Burgess & Bill “Bubba” Bussey

 

 

More than 20,000 write-in votes were cast on Dec. 12 for Alabama’s special Senate election, along with the expected names of Luther Strange and Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Republicans Martha Roby (Montgomery), Bradley Byrne (Mobile), Mike Rogers (Tuskegee), Robert Aderholt (Gadsden) and Gary Palmer (Vestavia Hills) all received votes to be Alabama’s next senator.

Of the delegation, Roby claimed the most with at least 15 votes.

Birmingham radio hosts Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey both received several votes.

While Bussey earned 5 votes, Burgess was the choice of the duo with 7 votes.

Dianne Bentley, ex-wife of former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April over allegations of finance and ethics violations, beat out her former husband 4 votes to 2.

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7 months ago

Nick Saban and Taylor Swift have something in common: They’re both vilified for political silence

 

We have all watched as people in the sports and entertainment world have taken various positions on hot-button political positions only to be told that they are now terrible at their chosen profession.

In the world of entertainment, Patton Oswalt is told he is a terrible comedian and Alec Baldwin apparently now sucks at acting to a sizable portion of those who are politically active for holding the wrong opinions.

In the sports world, look at Colin Kaepernick… OK, that’s a bad example, he was terrible before he decided he became America’s least effective Social Justice Warrior.

You will notice most politically-active celebrities are liberal in nature; there is no danger in being pro-gay marriage, but let a random reality TV star say they support traditional marriage (or any conservative cause) and they will be targeted for destruction.

But a new thread is now emerging. Not only are we mad when people express opinions we don’t like, we are starting to get mad at celebrities who say nothing. Taylor Swift’s silence on the Trump administration is treated by some as an outright endorsement of its activities and decisions. “Is she a feminist? Is she a racist?” Why are these questions being asked? Because she has said nothing. The sound of her silence is deafening … or something.

And don’t think Alabama escapes this nonsense.

Nick Saban, who probably came in third in the Alabama Senate race, is being targeted as a “clueless, gutless, selfish coward” for daring to not say anything about the Senate. But, again, let’s be honest, the real problem is that he didn’t help obliterate Roy Moore.

The lead-up to Roy Moore and Doug Jones’ election Tuesday should have been Saban’s shining career moment to show true leadership and humanity. By remaining silent on the numerous allegations that Moore was a pedophile, Saban showed he does not care about the plight or protection of young women and girls.”

The piece also said he didn’t care about black people, all because he is preparing for a College Football Playoff game against Clemson and not lecturing his fans about politics.

The people who write these articles scolding Saban and others for not using their powerful positions as a weapon, would be demanding he be fired if he dared stated he didn’t believe the women or that he was voting for Roy Moore. They would declare that it was not his place to try to influence his football players or fans of the Crimson Tide. They would write screeds about how Saban was using taxpayer-dollars to promote his political views; they might even call for him to be charged with a crime.

They are phonies.

This stuff only cuts one way. They want their liberal views expressed and highlighted, and all other views silenced, as they are on ESPN. This isn’t about wanting people to be more politically-involved, this is about continuing to bully people into thinking the “right way” and punishing people for thinking “incorrectly”.

Saban isn’t an idiot. He knows this game and he wants no part of it.

I don’t really make political comments. So, if I say I like one person that means everybody who voted for the other person doesn’t like me. So, why would I do that?”

Nick Saban and Taylor Swift have every right to voice their opinion, but they are under no obligation to amplify your viewpoints.

Dale Jackson hosts a daily radio show on NewsTalk 770 AM/92.5 FM WVNN and a weekly television show, “Guerrilla Politics,” on WAAY-TV, both in North Alabama. Follow him @TheDaleJackson.

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8 months ago

Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn may not like the GOP tax plan (but you might)

With a most unconventional president in the White House, the current tax plan being considered in Washington is appropriately unconventional as well.

For Alabama, the plan is a mixed bag that is likely to please some but satisfy few.

College football – the sport that is synonymous with Alabama to most of the country – is strangely in the crosshairs with this tax plan.

A proposal in the plan would eliminate a deduction of 80 percent to college athletic departments for the option to purchase game tickets and obtain preferred parking, among other services. If enacted, the provision could fundamentally alter the economics of big-time college athletics.

“Some of these provisions are certainly problematic for robust athletic programs,” said Clay Ryan, the vice chancellor for governmental affairs at the University of Alabama System.

Booster programs like Tide Pride and Blazer Boosters support many non-revenue generating sports, Ryan explained. If the government alters the way they receive tax-deductible contributions, then these sports could see less financial support in the future.

Moreover, many are Title IX programs that have provided opportunity to thousands of female athletes.

The president of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, which includes Auburn University, also expressed his concern about the overall bill in a letter to Congressional leadership.

Another provision could directly affect the salaries of highly paid college coaches.

It would assess a 20 percent excise tax on nonprofit organizations, to be applied on salaries of those making $1 million or more.

In other words, it could cost universities millions more to compensate coaches like Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn.

Rather than causing these coaches to give up vacation homes, however, at worst the plan would likely cause the universities to employ more creative methods to pay for coaches of their revenue-generating sports.

For the rest of us making less than seven or eight figures annually, the plan should be somewhat kinder.

Low to middle-income married couples with children would see their standard deduction almost doubled to $24,400. While that sounds great, the proposal would also take away the dependent exemption, which is currently at $4,050 for each dependent.

The best selling point of the plan – according to its advocates, anyway – is a significantly lower corporate tax rate.

In a state like Alabama that has already been on an economic upswing, the lower rate could mean further corporate investment in the state and the jobs that would come with it.

Then again, all of the above is subject to negotiation in the horse-trading that is common on Capitol Hill.

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9 months ago

Shooting victim Scalise to be Saban’s guest at tonight’s Bama-LSU game

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and family at Tiger Stadium in September. (@stevescalise/Instagram)
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and family at Tiger Stadium in September. (@stevescalise/Instagram)

 

It’s not often that the University of Alabama honors a rabid fan of the opposing team, especially when that fan wears purple and gold.

But the Crimson Tide are making an exception tonight for U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), whose recovery from a nearly fatal gunshot inspired his colleagues and much of the country. Scalise is an honored guest at tonight’s Alabama game against his beloved Louisiana State University Tigers. He is watching the game with Alabama’s congressional delegation.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban — who has won national championships at both schools — extended the invitation, said Clay Ryan, the vice chancellor for governmental affairs at the University of Alabama System.

“We hoped the invitation would demonstrate the mutual respect between our universities and recognize the importance of this rivalry,” Ryan said. “Coach Saban has regularly acknowledged the fond memories he and Miss Terry have of their time in Baton Rouge. This is a special game.”

Scalise drew widespread sympathy when a gunman targeting Republicans shot him and four others at a practice of the GOP’s congressional baseball team on June 14. A bullet from James Thomas Hodgkinson’s rifle traveled across his pelvis and fractured bones. He underwent multiple surgeries.

Scalise provoked a rare bout of bipartisanship on Sept. 28 when he returned to the House of Representatives for the first time.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said fellow Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) took the lead in helping to organize the event. He said Scalise is well-liked among his colleagues but that the hosts’ hospitality will only go so far.

“After we get through recognizing him for what he’s been through, I hope, as an Alabama graduate, we whip LSU’s tail,” he said.

And don’t count on sympathy for Scalise to extend to his favorite team among the Bryant-Denny Stadium faithful.

“We’ve had to be strategic about where we placed him in the stadium so as not to set off an uproar,” Ryan quipped.

 

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9 months ago

We’ll ruffle feathers here – and kick some a-, uh, Mules

 

Alabama’s governing systems are a collective mess.

Many of my columns here at Yellowhammer will detail that mess – or those messes – and unflinchingly will advocate reforms, no matter whose toes get stomped or whose power bases get challenged.

I write as a lifelong, committed Madisonian conservative. Put the stress on “Madisonian,” which means I promote a philosophy, not an ideology. (For the difference, please read Eric Hoffer, Richard Weaver, and C.S. Lewis, among others, and also please review the actual practices of Ronald Reagan.) This means that while principles endure, mere opinions must be based in facts – and those opinions ought to be modifiable, at least at the edges, by empirical evidence.

As I wrote in an essay for a college publication more than 30 years ago, “such a conservatism is open both to question and to questing, to discussion without repercussion, not because it feels it is wrong but because it always strives to be more right.”

Within those parameters, though, opinions can still be both strong and strongly expressed. After nearly two decades of covering Alabama stories, I enter this new forum with the following opinions that, while open to further review, are currently quite strong.

First, Alabama’s state Constitution may be the worst such document in American history. Convoluted, complicated, counterproductive, and absurdly long, it desperately needs major revision and simplification. Indeed, if it were practical, Alabamans should trash the whole thing and start over, but as a practical man I accept that is an unlikely undertaking.

Second, Alabama’s government is far too centralized rather than open to local innovations, which makes it both ossified and much more easily corruptible. It also allows a small number of groups – often known as the “Big Mules” – to wield inordinate power. Now, sometimes they happen to wield it for good purposes. But if they don’t, they should be taken down a peg or two hundred.

Third, even hard-line conservatives should recognize that many solemn obligations of state government are seriously underfunded here. Among them are prisons/jails, the mental health system, some sheriffs and law enforcement agencies, and (due to federal mandates) Medicaid. One way or another, whether via savings elsewhere or new revenue sources, those functions should be fully supported. (Any conservative who is allergic to the very word “tax,” by the way, isn’t a real conservative.)

Fourth, while Alabama state government is comparatively lean, the first (but not only) focus for those wanting to meet the solemn obligations above should indeed be savings elsewhere, not new taxes. As a former staffer on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee when in just two years it was saving what was then a huge $50 billion in domestic discretionary spending (actual dollars, not merely from some projected “rate of increase”), I have no patience with government waste.

Fifth, to better apply savings from some areas to needs in other areas, state government absolutely must be allowed to modify its system of constitutionally earmarking an absurdly high percentage of its revenues. The entire idea of representative government is that the general public must entrust at least some significant discretion – must indeed delegate real authority – to those it elects to office.

Sixth, Alabama’s tax system is badly unbalanced and horribly regressive. Both state government and local governments rely far too heavily on sales taxes, and a bit too lightly on property taxes. Alabama could cut the former a bit and hike the latter just a smidgen and still be near the very bottom of states in property-tax burden while still among the highest in sales-tax burden. That last sentence isn’t mere opinion; it’s empirical fact.

Seventh, Alabama’s educational system vastly under-performs; its central bureaucracy is badly bloated; and its state school board and community of administrators are horribly incestuous (figuratively speaking). Indeed, the current state board is an embarrassment. Meanwhile, the state’s adoption of Common Core, and abandonment of full funding for the Alabama Math Initiative and Alabama Reading Initiative, reversed real progress in educational attainments, so that Alabama is again one of the worst performing states in the union.

Eighth, the truth(s) of race relations and racism in Alabama is/are far more complicated than almost anybody admits. Bigotry here is far less prevalent than most of the rest of the country believes, but still definitely more prevalent than most Alabamans readily acknowledge. (It also befouls us, at least somewhat, from more than one direction or ethnic subgroup.) Meanwhile, race relations also are more nuanced than either the national critics or the state deniers would concede.

Ninth, on the plus side, and amidst a general paucity of truly excellent elected officials, Alabama also has boasted (in just the 20 years I’ve been here) a few of the finest public servants I’ve come across in my entire life. (I was born into a very political family, 53 years ago.) I won’t name those still active in politics today, because I’ll be covering them and there’s always the chance they’ll screw up. But as I write these columns I’ll surely be dropping the names of those who are retired or passed away – the late state Sen. Hap Myers of Mobile comes to mind – because, even though Alabama’s government needs improvement, that doesn’t negate the many things and people of which it should be proud. And as with some public figures, so with its culture: For all my current criticisms, Alabama is a magnificent state with wonderful people, and I intend to trumpet our great strengths to a national audience.

Tenth and finally, and even writing as a huge, lifelong fan of football, I must insist that Alabamans in general are far too obsessed with football, to the absolute detriment of education and the broader culture. (And Nick Saban is overpaid)….

Okay, now I’ll show myself through the door, before I’m tarred, feathered, blitzed, and body-slammed. But please do watch this space. There’s lot of ground to cover.

Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017, available via Amazon.

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9 months ago

Alabama Football’s Twitter Account Makes Spooky Change

If you follow Alabama Football’s Twitter feed then you might have noticed a slight change in their cover photo. It’s not a red elephant or a Heisman Trophy-winning running back – its Pennywise the Clown from Steven Kings mega-hit “It”.

Besides changing the photo, the Twitter account gives no explanation of what the image is supposed to mean. Is it just a funny joke for Halloween, or does it have something to do with the upcoming game against LSU? A recent interview of LSU players revealed that the Bengal Tigers don’t fear the Tide (at least publicly). When asked about facing Alabama, players from the LSU locker room said: “we’re bigger, stronger, and it’s time to beat them up.”

Maybe Alabama is sending a message to LSU or maybe it’s just in the spirit of Halloween. It would be interesting to see if there’s a reporter out there that brave enough to ask Saban.

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9 months ago

Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand To Return During Bye Week

Screenshot from Youtube
Screenshot from Youtube

After suffering a knee injury against Ole Miss during week five of the season, Da’Shawn Hand is expected to return to practice this week.

As reported by 247 Sports, Alabama coach Nick Saban gave an update on the defensive end after Alabama’s dominating performance against Tennessee. “Da’Shawn will be working out all week. We do expect him to be able to practice. We’ll see how it goes to see if he’s ready to play in the next game.”

Hand is one of Alabama’s leading defensive players. While his absence has been felt on the defensive line, the Tide have continued to dominate opponents by relying on their talented second and third string players.

LSU is set to visit Bryant-Denny Nov. 4. After a devastating defeat to Troy University earlier this season, the Bayou Bengals have turned their season around. The annual match-up is set to be a competitive game, so Alabama is banking on Hand’s return.

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9 months ago

College Football Preview: Alabama vs. Tennessee

Can you believe it’s already the third week in October? Time flies when you’re having fun (at least for ‘Bama fans). We’ve seen some great college football the past seven weeks. There have been some quality opponents and compelling storylines. If you regard Saturday as your Sabbath, then you’ve not been disappointed. However, none of the games or headlines until this point can rival the third week in October. All Alabama and Tennessee fans mark their calendars for this marquee matchup. Heck, some even plan their wedding around it.

This Saturday at 2:15, Alabama and Tennessee will face off in Bryant-Denny for their 100th match-up. Alabama leads the series 53-38-7, and with so much riding on the line for both teams, football fans might be treated to a good one. Alabama is 7-0 and looking for the 17th National Championship. Tennessee’s head coach, Butch Jones, is fighting for his job.

With so much on the line, will Alabama continue to roll, or will the Vol’s be able to turn their season around? Here are our weekly keys to success, we will let you decide.

Tennessee Defense: As the old saying goes, “defense wins championships.” Tennessee ain’t winning any championships this year, but the principle still holds true here. If you want to win games, then don’t let your opponent score more than you. What’s the best way to do that? Stop them with your defense.

Tennessee is operating with a freshman QB that will be making his second start of the season. If that were not bad enough, he’s starting his second game in Bryant-Denny. That’s a challenging place to play for the most seasoned of QBs.

Most Tennessee fans will agree that they are not expecting the Vol’s to put up massive points. While they can score, their best strategy will be to keep Alabama out of the end zone and make the most of the points they do get. If the Vol’s defense can slow Jalen Hurts and Co., then they “might” have a shot at pulling off an upset. If they allow Alabama to run downhill, then their fate is all but sealed. So, the key factor is for Tennessee to stop the Tide from scoring, and hope you can sneak in enough points to beat them.

Alabama Offense: Alabama shouldn’t have a tough time stopping the Vol’s offense. It’s underpowered and outgunned. What they don’t want to do is get into a slugfest with Tennessee’s defense. This will give the Vol’s some life, potentially allowing them to play at a higher level than we’ve seen. If you’re Nick Saban, you want to jump on Tennessee fast and strong. If Alabama can run the score up early, it will be nearly impossible for Tennessee to mount a comeback.

Alabama vs. Tennessee

Alabama – 49

Tennessee – 10

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9 months ago

All He Wanted Was a Chance: The Empowering Influence of Coaches Like Alabama’s Gene Stallings

When Dabo Swinney was in Alabama for the Rane Foundation Charity Banquet last May, a small group of journalists gathered in a room to interview Mr. Rane and the Clemson coach. While Swinney was clear on his tremendous respect for Nick Saban and spoke about the good-natured jousting the two enjoy, it didn’t take long for someone to ask him about Gene Stallings, the man Swinney simply calls “Coach.”

“It’s great to be around Coach,” Swinney said talking about their time together at the Banquet…”And I always feel like I’m 20 again when I’m with him. It’s ‘Yes Sir and No Sir,’ ” Swinney quipped, as Jimmy Rane added with a chuckle, “We all say ‘Sir’ to Coach Stallings!”

When asked what his May trip to Alabama meant to him, Swinney continued:

“I try to always remember where I came from and I’m not any different now than I was years ago as a G.A. (graduate assistant) working for Coach back then. It’s just the light’s a little brighter now, but I don’t do it any different. I think the key to coaching is to love my players. I’m relationship driven and it’s hard to have a relationship with someone unless you know them and care about them. The whole philosophy of our team is to love, serve, and care for our players. If we do that, we will empower young men to go out in life and do the same thing. They’ll love others, serve their families, and their communities, and I think that’s been the key for our success at Clemson. If there’s a secret sauce, that’s it. Nobody’s perfect, but we truly try to love our guys. That’s the culture we’ve built at Clemson and I think it’s the key to most anything, just love your neighbor.”

Clearly, Dabo Swinney didn’t just decide to approach coaching that way out of the blue. Gene Stallings played no small part in imparting this vision to Swinney, not only with words but with deeds.

William Christopher Swinney showed up at Alabama with a huge hole in his heart from his father’s struggles of losing a business and (during those years) succumbing to the bottle. But Dabo Swinney possessed a passion that equaled his pain. What he lacked in physical prowess, he more than made up for with an indomitable spirit. Though no one had asked him to come, Gene Stallings embraced the walk-on from Pelham, Alabama and treated him like a son.

Just as Swinney strives to do with his own players today, Stallings loved Swinney, invested in him, cared about him beyond his performance on the field, and played a big part in empowering him to be the man he is today. As Swinney put it: “It’s simple; I’m not sitting right here right now if it weren’t for people like Coach caring about me.”

Following Clemson’s surprising loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last Friday night, Swinney spoke to TigerNet.com’s, David Hood about his decision to come to Tuscaloosa Saturday to take part in celebrating the Tide’s 1992 National Championship team, which he played on under Stallings. “The last thing I wanted to do is get on a plane Saturday morning and go anywhere, but I’m glad I did. It was a very special day. My senior year in 1992…I have such great relationships with so many of my teammates to this day, 25 years later.”

Continuing to reflect on his trip to Alabama Saturday, Swinney said:

“First of all, it was just great perspective for me. It was just what the doctor ordered. Just seeing my teammates and spending time with them. They did a great job of how they organized it…With the way God worked it out, we had a game on Friday night. For me to have a Saturday is a rare thing. It’s probably the last time we’ll be together with Coach (Stallings). Coach just had a heart attack last week. When he said he was going, I really didn’t have any excuse…They were so helpful. They took us straight from the airport over to the stadium. We had about an hour and a half with just the team in the big letterman room with nobody in there. It was just the team—us and Coach. It was really a special time. I saw guys I hadn’t seen since 1992. We’ve had a couple of reunions but not even close to the turnout. It was pretty much just about everybody. It was a special time. Everybody was just so complimentary of Clemson and what we’ve been able to do here.”

Turning his focus back to Coach Stallings, Swinney added:

“It was great just being able to be with Coach and have that special time. He was fussing at me. He was still being Coach and he said he didn’t sleep all night. He said he got up at 3 a.m. eating grapes and still mad about the game (Clemson’s loss Friday night). He was walking with a cane. It was tough to see him like that, but it meant that much to him to get there. I was really thankful that I was able to go and be a part of that. They did all of the stuff in the pregame and then once they cleared the field they announced the team, it was great to be a part of that moment.”

Dabo Swinney’s trip to Alabama on Saturday is a great reminder that regardless of the color of one’s skin or jersey; and no matter what games one may win or lose; the lifelong bonds that often come from sports can be lasting and powerful. This is all the more true when a coach decides to truly invest in a kid—especially in a kid nobody recruited—a kid that’s asking for nothing more than a chance.

Most folks would write that kid off, or at best just ignore him. But most folks aren’t Gene Stallings. Today, untold numbers of young men (and their families) benefit from the fact that Coach was wise enough to know that life is far bigger than football and that every person matters and deserves to be treated with love and respect. Because Coach knew that only God knows who those kids may one day become.

As Swinney told Yellowhammer last May, “Being home reminds me that I was a kid who didn’t have much of a chance that God gave a chance.” And there’s little doubt that God chose Gene Stallings to give Dabo Swinney that chance.

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9 months ago

College Football Preview: Alabama vs. Arkansas

Set for a 6:15 kickoff, Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks are traveling to Tuscaloosa to take on the #1 Crimson Tide. While the matchup has become a midseason right of passage, it’s hardly an even contest. Over the past ten seasons, Alabama has gone undefeated against Arkansas. Some games haven’t been pretty, like the 2014 game where the Tide narrowly escaped with a win, but it’s no secret Alabama owns this annual matchup.

Most consider it a foregone conclusion that Nick Saban will out game Bielema on Saturday. Should they be that comfortable, or is there more to this game then meets the eye?

So, without further ado, here are our weekly keys to success.

Razorback Physicality and Talent: It’s hard to deny that, under Bielema, Arkansas brings tenacity to any game they play. If you think they are just going to lay down for Alabama, then you need to think again. There probably aren’t many better examples of a team that encompasses SEC football. When you tune into Saturday’s game, you’re going to see smash mouth football at it’s best. The Razorbacks are going to make Alabama fight for every yard, just like they have in previous years. So, don’t expect to see a crazy high score like you did against Ole Miss.

That said, physicality and determination can only take a team so far and that’s the problem with Arkansas. While they play with a lot of grit, they just don’t have the talent to compete with the Tide. Case in point: the loss they suffered last week to a mediocre South Carolina team. By all accounts, Arkansas should have asserted their will, but they didn’t. Why? They fundamentally lack the talent and depth necessary to win consistently.

The Alabama Strategy: There is a very compelling argument for Nick Saban being the best coach of all time. His football aptitude and attention to detail effectively make him the 12th man.

The biggest advantage Alabama has this week, other than a roster packed with NFL talent, is Nick Saban. We know Arkansas doesn’t have the talent to compete with Alabama and so does Saban. He’s known for breaking down a team and hitting them where they are most vulnerable, and that is what you’ll see again in this game. Nick has had 10 seasons worth of strategy against Arkansas, and he knows right where to hit them.

The biggest factor on the Alabama side will defiantly be the game plan. Arkansas will put up a valiant fight, but you’ve got to bring more to the table when you take on the Tide. Saban knows there is no point in slamming against a wall; he will meticulously pick through the Razorbacks weaknesses until they lose their will to fight.

Alabama vs. Arkansas Prediction

Alabama – 33

Arkansas – 7

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9 months ago

See Whats Got Coach Saban Fired Up This Week

Following their somewhat narrow victory over Texas A&M this weekend, coach Nick Saban made it abundantly clear that it takes a lot more than just winning football games to make him satisfied.

Not to take anything away from A&M, but it was apparent Alabama didn’t come with the same type of focus we’ve seen the last two weeks. They looked sluggish at times, and Robert Foster committed the Tide’s first turnover in 38 quarters of play.

After the game, Saban had a pretty good idea of what caused his team to miss a step this week.

See the video below to see what Coach Saban had to say:

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10 months ago

A Special Day, For a Special Girl At Alabama Football Game

Photo courtesy of Aubreigh's Army Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Aubreigh’s Army Facebook page

If you’re from the south, then you know how serious we are about college football. “House divided” tags are commonplace across Alabama, and a bitter rivalry can call into question the strongest of friendships. But every now and then there are circumstances that surpass the games we play and remind us what’s really important. That’s what happened this weekend when Alabama head coach Nick Saban went out of his way to make a little girl’s dream come true.

Aubreigh Nicholas, 10, is like a lot of girls her age. She’s full of life, and an avid Tide fan. By all accounts she’s your typical Alabama girl, except for one major difference – she suffers from a rare and inoperable brain cancer known as DIPG.

Saturday, before kick-off, she visited Bryant-Denny, and the university made sure it was a day she would never forget.

Given V.I.P. access, Aubreigh and her family spent time with players, cheerleaders, and even Big Al. However, Aubreigh’s day was just getting started. As she approached the North end zone, there stood Coach Saban, waiting to make this little girl’s day as special as she is.

In pictures posted on Aubreigh’s Army Facebook page, Saban can be seen hugging and kissing the little girl on the head.

After the meeting, the Aubreigh’s Army Facebook page posted, “. . . Can’t say enough about the Army, the Bama Nation, and the University of Alabama for making a reality out of what was a week ago a long shot dream. Aubreigh like so many of our little curls has a die-hard allegiance to SEC football. What the Tide and the University did today, beyond words. . .”

The games we play matter, but people matter more. Keep up the fight Aubreigh, we’re for you!

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11 months ago

Alabama Football Coach Suffers Devastating Loss

Photo Courtesy of Bama Fever
Photo Courtesy of Bama Fever

As reported by Yahoo Sports, the son of Alabama co-offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley, was shot and killed in Baltimore over the weekend.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting are still unclear, but Baltimore police reported that the 25-year-old, Meiko Locksley, was found on a sidewalk bleeding from a gunshot wound. He was then transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. According to ABC 2 in Baltimore, the younger Locksley’s neighbor heard what she believed to a firecracker at the time of the shooting, but looked outside and saw Lockley lying on the sidewalk.

Commenting on the tragic situation, Nick Saban said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike, Ms. Kia [his wife], and the entire Locksley family over this tragedy. We’ll do everything we can to support Mike and his family in this time of tragedy.”

Mike Locksley is from Maryland and has since returned to be with his family. Before taking his current position with the Alabama football staff, Locksley was Maryland’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for three seasons. He also served as the interim head coach there in 2015 after the departure of head coach, Randy Edsall.

No arrests have been made in connection to the shooting.

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11 months ago

Alabama v. Clemson: Has it turned into Warriors v. Cavs rivalry?

Alabama has faced Clemson in the last two title games. The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers have faced the Golden State Warriors in the last two title games. Alabama won the first and lost the other. The Cavs won the first and lost the other. In light these similarities, ESPN raised an interesting question: Are Alabama and Clemson destined to become a rivalry equal to the one dominating the NBA?

  1. Alabama and Clemson are both entering the season highly touted. Both ranked within the top ten. While the ranking system in the NBA is different from college football, the Cavs and Warriors are both the top picks to win their conferences.
  2. Alabama and Clemson both lost key players. Alabama lost defensive star, Jonathan Allen. Clemson lost superstar QB, Deshaun Watson. The Cavs still have James, and the Warriors still have Curry and KD.
  3. Both teams have a culture of success. Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney push their teams forward. The Cavs and the Warriors have a similar situation.
  4. Alabama is angry over their loss in last January’s championship. LeBron James is out for blood after he was nearly swept by the Warriors.

So, is there a connection? It certainly seems like there could be. Thankfully, we’ll know soon enough. College football is here, once again!

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11 months ago

Lane Kiffin: Clemson Never Wins if I’m Still Calling Plays

Lane Kiffin told the Washington Post that if he’d been offensive coordinator during the National Championship game last year, the Tide would have won the game.

In an interview with the Post, Kiffin said,

“It’s no disrespect to Steve. No matter who it was, you’ve been there all year long. You’ve been there for the quarterback. You’re all he knew. You were undefeated together. We’ve won (26) straight games together. You feel like, OK, it’s different. . . As great as Sark is, it’s just different. Again, if it had been 14 points either way … when it’s one play here or there, you think if those guys had the person they were used to, it would have made a difference.”

Kiffin spent three seasons at Alabama, helping the Tide secure one National Championship. He was offered the head coaching job at FAU in the final games of the 2016 season at Alabama. Originally, we had planned to coach along Saban during the championship but instead left for Florida.

Touching on what it was like to watch his team play the biggest game of their season he said, “It got really rough when you watched the game,” He said. “At first, the idea of, ‘OK, do your job. Focus on this one.’ But really, when you watched it, and because they lost, and it was so close…”

Alabama enters this season looking to gain their first win over Florida State Saturday. They are currently ranked number one.

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11 months ago

College Football Preview: Alabama vs. Florida State

College football is finally upon us, and ‘Bama fans across the South are getting ready for a marquee match up. This Saturday, in the first college football game at the new Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta, the Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Florida State Seminoles.

If you’re a Crimson Tide fan, then you know how big this game is, especially as a season opener. Since Nick Saban took command of the Tide in 2007, Alabama has played several box office openers. However, with the way Alabama ended its season last year, some are calling this the biggest season-opener of all time.

No doubt one of the key positions to watch will be the quarterback. With it being the first game of the season, you can bet that there are going to kinks to iron out on both sidelines, but will either team’s quarterback be able to maintain the poise needed when adversity strikes?

Jalen Hurts had a very strong season last year, barely missing another Championship with his impressive touchdown run with only a couple of minutes left in the game. We know he’s a tough competitor, but it seems the biggest question still centers around his passing ability. In his freshman season, he was able to create big plays with his legs, but he often missed the big passes Bama’ uses to open up the run. A critical factor behind the successful running attack Alabama is known for is the play action pass. It will be interesting to see if Hurt’s has improved his accuracy enough to keep the highly-touted Seminole defense on their toes.

Florida State is bringing the 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year, QB Deondre Francois to the field. There is no doubt that Francois is a dangerous man with the football. With his diverse skill set, Bama’ could get hurt if they don’t put pressure on the dual threat QB all day. Alabama lost numerous starters from last year’s team to the NFL but still look for Alabama to exploit Florida State’s biggest weakness last season: their struggling offensive line. Any success created by Florida State will start with allowing their QB room to breathe as he seeks to get the ball in the hands of their super-talented skill players.

Saturday is also another ACC vs. SEC game, but with Jimbo Fisher calling plays from the sideline, I’d expect this to look more like your traditional SEC smash-mouth show down. With so much on the line for both teams, the story Saturday will likely be one of two exceptional defenses looking to exploit two talented, but young quarterbacks. However that turns out, it will be a game for the ages.

Alabama vs. Florida State Prediction

Alabama – 17

Florida State – 10

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11 months ago

Crimson Tide Named Preseason #1

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban (Photo: YouTube)

It’s that time of year again, and as we eagerly await the start of the 2017 college football season, Alabama fans have a reason to smile a little brighter.

For the second straight year in a row, and the fourth time under Nick Saban, Alabama is number one in the AP preseason poll.

The poll was released Monday, with Alabama receiving 85% of the votes cast.

Of course, this comes as welcome news to the Tide. However, you can be sure that Coach Saban has already reminded his team that they were in a similar position last year, only to lose in the National Championship to Clemson; A game that would be decided at the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

Coming in just behind Alabama in this poll is the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are led by Urban Myer. They’ve had a strong team since Myer took over the program, and it looks like they will continue to compete at a high level this year.

Most notable in the AP Florida State’s number three position. Alabama and Florida State will face off in their opening season game in the new Georgia Dome. Whether or not the ranking was a ploy by the AP to boost ratings has yet to be seen, but it will definitely make for an interesting game.

Here is the complete Top 25 ranking:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Florida State
  4. USC
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Michigan
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Stanford
  15. Georgia
  16. Louisville
  17. Florida
  18. Miami
  19. South Florida
  20. Kansas State
  21. Virginia Teck
  22. West Virginia
  23. Texas
  24. Washington State
  25. Tennessee
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