Let’s get the obvious out of the way:
I’m the sideline reporter for the Crimson Tide Sports Network’s radio coverage of Alabama Football.
I host Nick Saban’s television show.
And, despite the fact I proudly graduated from the University of Montevallo, I’ve been an Alabama fan since I was born.
So, is my viewpoint slanted toward Alabama? Of course it is.
That being said, I’m not even using this space to make the argument FOR the Tide to be in the College Football Playoff.
I’m simply tired of hearing two claims being used AGAINST Bama making it to the national semifinals.
The first is who (or what) Florida State became.
Clearly, the Seminoles finished with their worst record in years, and never sniffed the expectations set for them at the start of the season.
However, from about March until season kicked off, the matchup between Alabama and FSU was hailed as “The Greatest Opener of All-Time”.
Yes, the Seminole team that walked out of Mercedes Benz Stadium was incredibly average – at best. But the FSU team the Tide beat – the one that came INTO Atlanta – was worthy of its No. 3 national ranking.
FSU lost their quarterback five minutes from the end of the game – not from the start of it.
Another dart I’m tired of seeing thrown Alabama’s way is that they didn’t play for their league title.
But, are we now going to use that as a reason to put Ohio State in, exactly 12 months after the committee refused to use it as a means of keeping the Buckeyes out?
I think division titles are important. I think l conference championships are important.
But until they are specifically identified as a requirement to qualify for the College Football Playoff, then you can’t use them as part of the conversation in that room.
If those given the charge of selecting the top four teams in the country don’t think Alabama is among them, then so be it.
Just stop telling me that Florida State losing it’s quarterback, and one road loss to a Top 10 team, should be the reasons why.
A bye-week on the Alabama Football calendar has given me a chance to take a deep breath and look back at a really enjoyable past couple of weeks on my calendar.
Last Thursday I made a trip to Oxford and had a chance to participate in the Martha Vandervoort Memorial Golf Classic. My friends at NobleBank & Trust are sponsors of this great event, which honors the memory of a lady who helped so many in Calhoun County during her lifetime.
I had a great time visiting with so many people that participated in the event, which included more than 40 teams playing in either the morning or the afternoon flights.
To those teams who benefitted from my additional shot on Hole No. 2, you’re welcome. To those that didn’t…I apologize.
After a great day of golf on Thursday, I stayed in that part of the state for our high school football game of the week. Our Friday Night Rivals matchup on My68 was Ohatchee at Piedmont. It was our second straight year to broadcast from “Field of Champions”, a fantastic facility on the Piedmont High School campus that would rival that of most 6A and 7A stadiums.
The hospitality our My68 crew receives from the Bulldog faithful is second-to-none. Great community and great environment. Mayor Bill Baker was a wonderful host. And Piedmont looks like it will tough to keep from a third straight 3A crown for head coach Steve Smith.
The past two weekends at Bryant-Denny have been so much fun – and not just because of the wins against Arkansas and Tennessee.
I love having the chance to visit with Alabama’s honorary captains during our pre game coverage for home games on the Crimson Tide Sports Network. The Arkansas game not only had only the 1992 national championship squad of Coach Gene Stallings, but also several other former greats who happened to be back in town for homecoming.
The bye week for football made it the perfect time to enjoy the Third Annual SupeStore Tide Tipoff at Coleman Coliseum. More than 7,000 fans got a glimpse of the Bama men’s and women’s basketball teams, in what is an eagerly anticipated season for both squads.
Much was made about Nifae Laelao’s exhuberant challenge to Alabama in the moments after Vanderbilt’s 14-7 win over Kansas State.
But as the Crimson Tide built a 45-0 lead over the Commodores Saturday, I was reminded of the lesson singer Jim Croce taught us in his legendary song, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”:
You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…. You don’t spit into the wind… You don’t pull the mask off the ole’ Lone Ranger….
And you don’t tell Alabama they’re “next”.
If the Commodores had simply kept quiet, and tried to sneak up on Alabama, I think the Tide likely would have walked into Nashville and walked away with a win somewhere in the range of 24 points.
But, with the gauntlet thrown down after the ‘Dores emotional home victory against K-State, Bama was completely locked in on Vandy by the time the Tide hit the practice field on Monday. A well-prepped, and ticked-off Tide, steam-rolled into the Music City and left utter destruction in its wake.
In short, they completely defeated their opponent, as was the challenge from Head Coach Nick Saban. You can hear my post-game interview with him on the Crimson Tide Sports Network below, along with my locker room visit with Damien Harris.
Vandy post game interview with Coach Nick Saban
Vandy post game interview with Tide running back Damien Harris
My friends and partners on this website, NobleBank & Trust, are set to host a pair of events in the coming weeks, of which I am excited to have a part.
The first is set for next week in Birmingham. The NobleBank & Trust Appreciation Day/Meet & Greet will take place on Friday, September 15th from 11:00 – 2:00 at their branch at The Summit. The address is 361 Summit Blvd. Birmingham, AL 35243.
I will be there talking football, basketball, or whatever else is on your mind. It’s a very causal atmosphere, and NobleBank is providing lunch, along with treats from Steel City Pops. I hope you will come by and visit for awhile. A reminder for the event is available here.
If you’re not already familiar with NobleBank, this would be a great opportunity to meet some of the people involved with one of our state’s great community banks.
A testament to NobleBank’s community involvement, is their partnership with the Martha Vandervoort Memorial Classic. The golf tournament honors the memory of a lady many have described as the “Mother Teresa of Calhoun County”, due to her generosity and help for those in need.
I had the privilege of participating in this event for the first time last year, and I’m excited about the chance to join them again on October 19th at Cider Ridge Golf Club in Oxford. Sponsorship and entry information is available here.
I’ve been a NobleBank customer since their arrival in the Birmingham market, and I am honored to be in partnership with them and to have the opportunity to help tell their story.
Florida State fans had Atlanta’s shiny new stadium rocking Saturday night, after the Seminoles scored early in the 2nd quarter to take a 7-3 lead over Alabama.
But with just over 12:00 to play in the 2nd quarter of Saturday’s opener against Florida State, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts ran around left end, picked up a first down, and – with a defender closing in, wisely headed to the boundary.
That defender, Ermon Lane, got in Hurts face a little bit as the Bama QB started back toward his huddle. A tight-shot on television showed that the Tide sophomore barely acknowledged Lane, other than to give a slight smirk.
On the very next play, Jerry Jeudy came in motion to the right side. Hurts faked a handoff to Najee Harris, took a three-step drop, and quickly glanced in the direction of Jeudy in the right flat.
That ever-so-slight look drew Lane up from his free safety position, right about the time Calvin Ridley blew past him. Thanks to the misread by Lane, poor freshman Stanford Samuels was left in single coverage on Ridley, and was five yards behind him as the Bama wideout crossed the goal-line.
The poise that Hurts showed in that two play sequence, is a prime example of why there is such a strong belief that the 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, could be much better in 2017.
My post-game interview with Hurts Saturday night for the Crimson Tide Sports Network, was my first one-on-one visit with the Texas native. He was even more impressive than I anticipated. You can hear that interview below.
To steal a line from The Rock, “FINALLY….college football…HAS COME BACK……………… to us!”
Familar city, in Atlanta, but a brand new venue for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game between Alabama and Florida State. Radio coverage on the Crimson Tide Sports Network starts at 4 pm Central. If you’re heading over for the game, stop by STATS Sports Bar next to the stadium, and visit with Todd Robbins and Tyler Watts as they start our coverage for the matchup between the Tide and the ‘Noles. They will be there postgame, as well.
And before I forget, John Parker Wilson and I will be at Billy’s in English Village on Monday at 6 for the third season of “Crimson Tide Rewind”. We are there each week throughout the regular season, recapping each Bama game, and previewing the next one. We’d love to have you join us on radio, and participate via Twitter. Better yet, drop by and join us in person, as we are there from 6-7 pm for each of the next 13 Monday nights.
Today’s Notable Nuggets, presented by NobleBank & Trust
1. Deondre Francois took quite a beating last year, as the ‘Noles were among the teams who gave up the most sacks in the nation. That didn’t stop him from being the ACC’s top newcomer, and one of only two freshman in the country to throw for more than 3,000 yards. Bama’s Jalen Hurts wasn’t far behind. The SEC Offensive Player of the Year Donnette for 2,780 yards through the air. By all accounts, he has also progressed as a downfield passer at the level Coach Saban and Brian Dabol wanted to see.
2. FSU has faired well against the SEC since Jimbo Fisher took over as head coach, with their in-state rivals suffering the bulk of the damage. The Seminoles are 9-1 against the league with Fisher in command, going 6-1 against Florida, and winning their only matchups with Ole Miss, Auburn and South Carolina.
3. Nick Saban doesn’t own Atlanta, but he has to like it. His teams are 13-1 in the city, counting his time at LSU (3-0) and in Tuscaloosa (10-1).
Josh Jacobs is listed was still listed as day-to-day, and while the Tide has no shortage of talent at the position – with or without Jacobs, he does bring a dimension that is different from the rest of the stable. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, along with his quickness, make him a “change of pace” guy very similar, in my opinion, to what Roy Upchurch brought to Tide teams. Alabama can overcome it, but don’t discount his value.
DataPerk Data of the Day
The Associated Press started producing a college football poll back in 1936. Alabama has played 74 games while ranked No. 1 in those rankings. Of those 74, an amazing 50 of them have taken place since week number nine of the 2008 season.
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The Alabama Athletic Department is doing it’s part to help with recovery efforts in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. There will be an 18-wheeler departing from Tuscaloosa next week, loaded with relief supplies for the Texas coast. You can learn more about the efforts, and ways that you can help, buy clicking here.
Last night I taped the academic year’s first edition of “Crimson Tide Today”, which is a daily Bama sports report airing weekdays on CTSN radio affiliates around the state. Ordinarily, we lead off with preseason football news, but not on the day after an Alabama golfer claimed a major golf title for just the second time in history.
Jerry Pate won the 1976 US Open title, and it didn’t happen again for a former Crimson Tide player until Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship yesterday at Quail Hollow in Charlotte. Thomas led the Tide to a national title, and was a two-time All-American, as well as being a national collegiate player of the year.
As much of a crowd-favorite as he appeared to be in Charlotte, I couldn’t help but think about how incredible it would have been to witness something like that at Shoal Creek – which played host to the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championships.
Can you imagine how loud the “Roll Tide” chants would have been on every great shot by Thomas coming down the stretch?
1. Thomas has now won a major title among his four PGA victories and nine Top 10 finishes..this year…AT THE AGE OF 24!!!
2. Nick Saban’s Alabama Football team went through its first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday. Each scrimmage, and each practice (heck, each rep), carries a lot of weight with Saban and his staff. But traditionally, the next scrimmage (the one scheduled for this weekend), will be the one that wraps up a large portion of the pre-season evaluation. After this week, most of the work locks in on the guys you will go with in the opener against Florida State. Scrimmage notes are here.
3. Alabama’s Men’s Basketball team wrapped up it’s three-game trip to Canada, with an 81-71 win over Ottawa. The Tide posted a pair of victories during the week-long visit. The practice time and game experience could be huge in preparation for what will be a tough early-season schedule. While it was disappointing that injuries limited the play of Collin Sexton (missed one game), Herb Jones (missed two), and Dazon Ingram (missed all three), none are apparently serious.
Haylie McCleney continues to represent Alabama Softball in a major way. The four-time All-American for Patrick Murphy’s Tide helped the US National Team to a gold medal at the Pan American Championships. McCleney hit .613 for the tournament, with 17 runs scored.
DataPerk Data of the Day
Thomas and McCleney were not the only ex-Alabama stars to have big wins over the weekend internationally. Jereem Richards won gold for Trinidad & Tobago as part of the 4×400 relay team at the IAAF Championships in London.
There’s absolutely no reason to run out and book your reservations for The Final Four, based on one win over a Canadian college team Monday night in Montreal.
However, if you’re like so many of us that are anxiously awaiting the official start of the 2017-18 Alabama Men’s Basketball season, the Tide’s 96-57 win over McGill certainly won’t pour any cold water on that enthusiasm.
Nor should it.
Forget the opponent. Alabama looked really good for stretches Monday night in its first of three games over four nights. Scoring droughts aren’t likely to be a frequent occurrence.
John Petty made his much-anticipated Bama debut. The Huntsville native scored 22 points (on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc), while grabbing five rebounds.
Oh, and he did it in just 16 minutes of playing time.
Collin Sexton and Daniel Giddens – two other highly acclaimed newcomers – combined for another 26 points.
It was McGill. It wasn’t Arizona.
But it was impressive, and it was a heckuva start.
1. Alabama made 14-of-25 as a team from three-point range.
2. Playing under FIBA rules, the Tide and Redmen played four quarters. The lowest overall shooting percentage came in the 2nd Qtr., when Bama “only” shot 56% from the field. The team finished at 59.6% (34-57) overall.
3. Avery Johnson started Donta Hall, Riley Norris, Sexton, Petty, and Braxton Key against McGill. Before the team left for Canada, Johnson said he would likely mix up the starters for game two.
Ar’Mond Davis played 19 minutes off the bench. The senior, who many thought would transfer out of Tuscaloosa for his final season of eligibility, had 14 points. I can’t tell you where it will happen, but I believe at some important juncture of the season, he’s going to make a shot that makes Tide fans extremely grateful he stayed put.
DataPerk Data of the Day
Alabama’s overall free throw numbers were a little misleading. While the Tide finished only 60.9% from the charity stripe, Bama was 8-of-11 at intermission. The Tide did not attempt a free three in the 3rd qtr., and really only struggled in the 4th, making just 6-of-12 attempts. But by then, the outcome was far from being in doubt.
Hope you had a great weekend. Mine was quiet, thankfully, after what was an interesting week – to say the least.
Last Monday started with a great family trip to see the Braves host the Cubs in Atlanta.
Beautiful new stadium. And despite a one hour rain delay to get started, it was a great experience.
About an hour from home, an armadillo wound up in the grill of our car.
Yep. An armadillo.
An 18-wheeler struck it first, slinging the critter in front of our car. My wife did an incredible job keeping control of the wheel as that thing collided with our car, taking both the animal and the vehicle out of commission.
By the grace of God, and the help of our new best friends, Officer Johnson in Lincoln and Kenny from Hank’s Towing, we were only stranded on the side of I-20 for about an hour and a half. Felt really blessed to get safely home with my family a little after 2 am.
On a related note, when you see cars on the side of the road, please get over!
1. The fallout from last week’s shocking news in Oxford still ripples throughout the world of college football. Conversations will go on all season concerning who the next permanent coach will be, what will the NCAA ultimately decide about further punishment for the Ole Miss program, and what future – if any – Hugh Freeze will have in coaching.
Time will tell on all of the above.
My guess is that the majority of the Rebel fan base would want a bigger-name candidate than the current interim, Matt Luke. At the same time, most would take a six-win season right now, and gladly fast forward to 2018.
But here’s the reality. If Luke manages to somehow steer the ship to a .500 record, won’t he likely get a chance on a permanent basis?
2. Alabama Men’s Basketball has started practice for next month’s trip to Canada. The Tide will play three games in early August against high-level competition north of the border. I’ll be taking in a team practice Monday afternoon, and will have a lot more on the squad in the days to come.
3. If you live outside of Huntsville, this story may not seem like a big deal to you. However, it has a loose connection to Alabama Basketball. The Tide announced it’s non-conference schedule last week, and included in the mix is a second straight trip to Huntsville. The Von Braun Center is the site for the Tide’s matchup with Mercer, and will soon undergo a large renovation and addition. That could make the venue even more attractive for future Bama games in the Rocket City.
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Eryk Anders first hit in UFC, had roughly the same impact as his final hit in an Alabama Football uniform. The man who forced the game-clinching turnover in Alabama’s Rose Bowl win over Texas, made his debut at MMA’s top level Saturday night. Anders made quick work of Rafael Natal, knocking out the veteran fighter in the first round. My friend Vince Ferarra has broadcast a couple of Anders MMA events, and thinks the former Bama linebacker has a bright future in the sport.
DataPerk Data of the Day
Chandler Taylor finished second in a home run derby competition for the second time in a month. The Alabama outfielder was a swing away from winning the College HR Derby in Omaha last month, and made it to the final round of a similar event this weekend. The rising junior was a swing away from matching Vanderbilt’s Stephen Scott during the Cape Cod League All-Star Weekend.