Feb. 13, 2015
Your Giving Can Make an Impact
One of my priorities during my tenure at the University of Alabama is to improve the financial position of our department. Our staff is very serious about being good stewards of the resources we have and managing those resources effectively and efficiently. We are in very sound fiscal shape and we have adequate reserves in place to handle emergency issues. We also have manageable, but significant, debt that we must service.
The two areas of focus are: (1) buildings and facilities; and (2) scholarships. Debt service and scholarship costs are two of the largest line items in our budget. I have stated before that the business of our athletic department generates about 80 percent of the revenue needed to accomplish our Mission. In most years, Tide Pride contributions make up that 20 percent gap – they are critical to our success.
In order to build new facilities, and keep existing facilities up to championship standards, we have relied over the years on the generous support of our graduates, friends, fans, and supporters. As you know, we just opened our $7.46 million rowing facility on the Black Warrior River next to Manderson Landing. We also are in the midst of the $42 million redevelopment of Sewell-Thomas Stadium, and have many other needs we hope to address in the future.
We currently have some $30 million in endowed scholarships, and we hope to see the number move to $100 million in the next few years. I wish everyone could see what I see around here every day with the bright, energetic, talented student-athletes who are working so diligently to become champions on and off the field. It would brighten your day and encourage you to help add to that endowment base so that, in the coming years, we can continue to support all of our current teams and more.
We are adding staffing and programs in our development department and are encouraged with the results we are getting in the marketplace. To learn more about our development effort, please go to our Crimson Tide Foundation website (www.crimsontidefoundation.org). You also can call me or one of our development officers. We will be glad to show you how you can impact our Mission, which is to recruit and develop student-athletes to compete at the highest levels in intercollegiate athletics, educate and prepare them to compete at the highest levels in life after graduation, and accomplish both with honor and integrity.
Nationally Ranked Teams This Week
At this writing, eight of our teams are nationally ranked among the top 25 in their respective sports, including three ranked in the top 10, and six are currently ranked in the top 20 nationally. Here’s a glance at this week’s rankings:
Men’s Golf – 12th (Golfweek, Feb. 8)
Women’s Golf – 25th (Golfweek, Feb. 8)
Gymnastics – 6th GymInfo, Feb. 9)
Softball – 3rd (USA Today/NCFA Coaches, Feb. 10)
Women’s Tennis – 8th (ITA, Feb. 10)
Men’s Indoor Track & Field – 15th (USTFCCCA, Feb. 9)
Men’s Swimming – 24th (CSCAA Coaches, Jan. 22)
Baseball – 20th (D1Baseball.com, Jan. 19)
*The following Crimson Tide teams received votes in the latest rankings, but did not make the top 25: women’s indoor track & field.
• I am looking forward to the start of BASEBALL season this weekend in Hoover as the Tide hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore at The Hoover Met. We couldn’t be more pleased and appreciative of the way the people at the Hoover Met have rolled out the red carpet for us. They have truly adopted our team for 2015 and are committed to creating a legitimate home field advantage for us. Coach Mitch Gaspard, his staff and the entire team hosted Fan Day last Saturday in Hoover and the event was a tremendous success. Coach Gaspard and the team hosted around 100 kids for a free clinic as part of Fan Day, an excellent turnout considering we are playing at a true “home away from home.” Later on Saturday a crowd of more than 400 turned out for a barbecue and took in a practice game. Mitch, the staff and players were very impressed with how everything went. It made for an excellent start to the 2015 season, although the real games begin this weekend. Please gather your family and friends, check out the Alabama schedule, and make it a point to come out to the Hoover Met soon and often to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. Congratulations are due to shortstop Mikey White, who was named one of 50 players nationally on the preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List (read more here). Two of our players were named to spots on the 2015 Preseason All-SEC Baseball Team announced by the SEC on Thursday. Junior Kyle Overstreet earned first-team honors at second base, while sophomore Thomas Burrows garnered second-team honors as a relief pitcher. Thomas was named by to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award watch list. As a freshman in 2014, Thomas had 11 saves and a 2.15 ERA (9 ER/37.2 IP), with 34 strikeouts while going 4-2 in 24 relief appearances while earning Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-America honors.
• Our MEN’S BASKETBALL team held on for a tough road win on Tuesday at Mississippi State (recap here), our second win in the last three games, to improve to 15-9 on the season, 5-6 in the SEC. Our team plays with a lot of toughness and grit, qualities that were evident against the Bulldogs as it was our defensive pressure that was the decisive factor in the game. The Tide forced 15 turnovers that led to 18 points. Seven steals as part of 11 forced turnovers helped us to a 25-21 lead at halftime. The victory improved us to 13-1 this season when leading at the half. Next, the Tide returns to Coleman Coliseum this Saturday night to host Vanderbilt with tipoff at 7 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The Tide has four of its next six games at Coleman Coliseum. Through games of Thursday, Feb. 12, Alabama had an RPI of No. 48 in the nation according to KenPom.com, and the Tide was one of eight teams in the Southeastern Conference to boast a top 50 RPI. Our team was playing short-handed against Mississippi State, missing our top two point guards (Ricky Tarrant and Retin Obasohan) due to injuries while both Michael Kessens (ankle) and Rodney Cooper (illness) were playing at less than 100 percent. Rodney is nine points shy of reaching 1,000 points for his career. Levi Randolph reached the 1,000-point mark earlier this season. Should Rodney achieve that, it would mark the first time since the 2007-08 season that Alabama teammates have reached 1,000 points for their career in the same season. As of Feb. 11, Alabama led the league in SEC games only in three-point field goal percentage defense (.278), ranked second in scoring defense (60.1) and was fourth in fourth in field goal percentage defense (.408). The Tide has played the second-toughest SEC schedule through 11 league games, according to KenPom.com (through games of Feb. 11). The Tide only trails Missouri in league schedule strength.
• Our young WOMEN’S BASKETBALL team stands 13-13 overall, 2-9 in the SEC coming off a victory over Missouri on Thursday night in Foster Auditorium (recap here). The win over Mizzou was exciting as Sharin Rivers knocked down a go-ahead three-pointer with 7.8 seconds remaining to seal the 67-64 victory. Our ladies bounced back from a tough road loss last Sunday at LSU (recap here) as they continue to fight through a tough year in the second season of Kristy Curry’s rebuilding of the program. We are optimistic about the future and the direction of the program. This team is very young and is playing in a very difficult conference, but it’s obvious to anyone watching closely that they are an improving team that has a bright future. We have two more opportunities to cheer on the Tide at home as the regular season starts to wind down (Feb. 22 vs. Mississippi State and Feb. 26 vs. Florida). Coach Curry is big on community service and made sure that became a part of the program when she took over. At the end of her first season, the team won the Community Service Award at the academic banquet for the most hours spent volunteering. The team has taken on even more this season and recently visited the VA Medical Center as part of National Salute to Veterans Patients Week, in addition to spending time visiting patients at the DCH Manderson Cancer Center. The trip to the cancer center this time of year is in conjunction with women’s basketball’s designated Power of Pink/Play 4Kay game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 22, against Mississippi State.
• Our consensus number one FOOTBALL signing class not only solidified the excellent reputation of Coach Saban’s recruiting operation, it also led to some well-deserved recognition for his staff as offensive line coach Mario Cristobal has been named National Recruiter of the Year by both ESPN and Scout. Congratulations, Mario, on a job well done! In other football news, mark Saturday, April 18, on your calendars as we will host our annual Golden Flake A-Day Spring Football Game that day. Our passionate fan base has earned a tremendous reputation nationally by its incredible support of our A-Day Game every year since Coach Saban arrived in 2007, and I am challenging you again to pack Bryant-Denny Stadium. Coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State recently challenged his fans to “sellout” Ohio Stadium for this year’s spring game in Columbus. We usually have very good weather for our A-Day Games in Tuscaloosa. Plan to join us to get your first look at our 2015 football team on April 18. Further information will be shared as it is finalized. Check rolltide.com and follow future editions of this blog for updates.
• Coach Mic Potter and the WOMEN’S GOLF team figures to be among the nation’s top teams again this year. Our ladies opened their 2015 season this past Sunday through Tuesday at the Northrop Grumman Invitational in California, finishing eighth overall (recap here). Junior Janie Jackson led the Tide on Tuesday with an even-par round of 71. She carded four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey in the final round to finish tied for 18th at 8-over-par 221. Judging by his post-match comments, Coach Potter was encouraged by what he saw and feels he has something to build on. Based on his record, that’s good reason for optimism.
• Just a reminder that head coach Jay Seawell’s MEN’S GOLF team is set to begin its 2015 season in two weeks at the Puerto Rico Classic, Feb. 22-24.
• Coach Dana Duckworth’s GYMNASTICS is 4-1-0 overall this season, 3-1-0 in the SEC, after beating Auburn last Friday, Feb. 6 in Coleman Coliseum (recap here). The win was the Tide’s 111th straight in the 120th meeting with the Tigers. To say that’s an amazing streak doesn’t really do it justice. Consider this: Alabama lost the first 9 meetings in the series, with the most recent Auburn win in the series taking place on March 13, 1979. That’s right – almost 36 years ago. The current Alabama streak began on Dec. 19, 1979. Auburn is a very good team and it’s conceivable that we could meet up with them 3 more times this year as we have upcoming road meets at Auburn, the SEC Championships and the NCAA Tournament. Tonight we are hosting Boise State at Coleman Coliseum at 7 p.m. for the 11th annual Power of Pink meet, an initiative started by former head coach Sarah Patterson prior to the 2005 season. We will honor Sarah and David Patterson during the meet for their 36 years of Crimson Tide excellence. The Boise State meet will also be Alumni Night, with more than 80 members of our all-time roster returning to Coleman Coliseum. So, this evening promises to be a special one. Don’t miss it.
• Coach Patrick Murphy’s SOFTBALL team is off to an 8-0 start through the first week of the season. The Tide opened with six wins over a span of four days (Feb. 5-8), taking victories over 23rd-ranked South Alabama (recap here), Eastern Kentucky (recap here), Houston (recap here), Florida Gulf Coast (recap here), Florida International and McNeese State (recap here). All eight games so far have taken place away from Tuscaloosa with the opener against South Alabama at a true road site in Mobile, five games coming in Gulf Shores in the Sand Dollar Classic tournament, a road game at Samford on Wednesday evening (recap here) followed by a win over Pacific (recap here) earlier today in Palo Alto, Calif. The flawless opening weekend marked Alabama’s fifth consecutive unbeaten opening weekend as the pitching staff has a combined 0.97 ERA while the team is hitting .373 overall through the first six games. Freshman Demi Turner was named the Sand Dollar Classic MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Haylie McCleney, Leslie Jury, Sydney Littlejohn and Alexis Osorio. Sophomore Sydney Littlejohn threw a perfect game in her first start last Friday against Eastern Kentucky. The perfect game, along with a shutout victory over McNeese, helped Sydney earn SEC Pitcher of the Week honors. Against Samford on Wednesday, the Tide was led offensively by Haylie McCleney’s 3-for-4 hitting performance as Alabama had 12 hits to move to 7-0 on the season. Earlier today, the Tide opened action at the Stanford Nike Invitational by shutting out Pacific in five innings, 13-0, as four different players had multi-RBI performances at the plate. The Tide remains in the top five in both national polls, ranking third in the USA Today/NFCA poll and fourth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. The Tide continues action tonight at the Stanford NIKE Tournament in Palo Alto with a 7:30 p.m. CST clash with host team Stanford.
• Coach Dennis Pursley and the Crimson Tide SWIMMING & DIVING team heads to the SEC Championships, the start of the postseason, next week. The championships will be held in Auburn, next Tuesday through Saturday, Feb. 17-21. Emma Saunders has had a particularly good season to this point, bettering her own 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke school records in the fall. Defending NCAA 50 freestyle champion Kristian Gkolomeev is the No. 1 seed in the 50 going into the SEC Championships. The team made a breakthrough at last year’s SEC meet with a fourth-place team finish on the men’s side, and this could be another strong meet for both the men and the women. We also believe our team is well positioned for the upcoming NCAA Championships.
• Our young and maturing MEN’S TENNIS team is 2-5 overall in the early going as Coach George Husack has a talented young team that is playing a very tough schedule. The Tide lost a couple of matches last week, first at Oklahoma State (recap here), then at No. 2 Oklahoma (recap here), but gained valuable match experience against quality opponents early, which will be beneficial when entering the grueling SEC schedule (seven SEC teams are currently ranked in the top 25 nationally). Our No. 1 doubles team of junior Becker O’Shaughnessey and freshman Korey Lovett has won two of its three matches against ranked opponents, knocking off the No. 12 and No. 24 teams in the nation. Next up for the Tide is the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala., which will run Feb. 20-21. If you are in the area, come out and support George and his team.
• The Crimson Tide WOMEN’S TENNIS team has a 5-1 overall record and is ranked 8th nationally as a team this week. Alabama went 2-1 last week at the ITA National Indoor Championships in Virginia. bouncing back from an upset loss to Miami (recap here) by beating Oklahoma State (recap here) and defending champion No. 4 Duke, 4-1 (recap here). The defending NCAA champion doubles team of Erin Routliffe and Maya Jansen are ranked No. 6 nationally this week. In singles rankings, both Erin and Maya are ranked in the top 50 nationally: Erin is 33rd and Maya is 50th. Like the men’s team, the women are taking the week off from competition before traveling to Montgomery to take part in the annual Blue Gray National Tennis Classic Feb. 20-22, leading up to the start of SEC play on Feb. 27 at Florida. I am very pleased to learn that head coach Jenny Mainz will be inducted into the 2015 Alabama Tennis Foundation Hall of Fame at a banquet in Montgomery on Saturday, Feb. 21, during the Blue Gray Tournament. Jenny is an outstanding coach and person. It’s rare that someone so successful is also so well-liked by her peers. This honor is richly deserved.
• Our talented TRACK & FIELD team is entering a crucial part of its indoor season, and looks to be rounding into excellent form. The men’s team is ranked 15th nationally this week, while both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked No. 4 in the NCAA South Region. According to most observers, both teams figure to do well at the NCAA Indoor Championships this year. Coach Dan Waters and his staff have several world-class athletes on this year’s squad and an entire team developing into a squad that could end up among the national top 10 or 15 in both genders.
Last weekend, three wins in middle distance races highlighted the team’s performance last at the Husker Invitational (recap here) at the University of Nebraska. Over the two-day meet the team produced 21 season-best performances, including four performances on the men’s side that rank in the school’s all-time top 10. The team is peaking at the right time. Alabama competes in Arkansas this Friday-Saturday before taking next week off. The SEC Indoor Championships are scheduled for Friday-Saturday, Feb. 27-28, at Kentucky with the NCAA Indoor meet slated for March 13-14 at Arkansas.
Here’s a summary of athletic events over the next several days (times listed are for the location of the event: CT is Central Time, ET is Eastern Time):
Saturday, Feb. 14
|12 p.m. CT||Softball||vs. Cal Poly||Stanford, Calif.|
|7 p.m. CT||Men’s Basketball||Vanderbilt||Tuscaloosa|
|2 p.m. CT||Baseball||Maryland Eastern Shore||Hoover, Ala.|
Sunday, Feb. 15
|11 a.m. CT||Softball||vs. Pacific||Stanford, Calif.|
|1 p.m. CT||Baseball||Maryland Eastern Shore||Hoover, Ala.|
Monday, Feb. 16
|6 p.m. CT||Women’s Basketball||at Texas A&M||College Station, Texas|
Tuesday, Feb. 17
|6 p.m. CT||Softball||at UAB||Birmingham, Ala.|
|8 p.m. CT||Men’s Basketball||at Auburn||Auburn, Ala.|
Catch Alabama Athletics on the SEC Network
Here’s a summary of our athletic events to be televised over the next week on The SEC Network and its platforms. Read this schedule closely as some events can be seen via SEC Network +, which is available online via ESPN3 here. If you can’t make it to our games in person, catch us on radio or TV.
(All times listed are Central Time)
Saturday, Feb. 14
|2 p.m.||Baseball vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore||SEC Network +|
Sunday, Feb. 15
|1 p.m.||Baseball vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore||SEC Network +|
|5 p.m.||SEC Rewind: 2004 Mississippi State vs Alabama Basketball||SEC Network|
Monday, Feb. 16
|6 p.m.||Women’s Basketball at Texas A&M||SEC Network|
|11 p.m.||REPLAY: Women’s Basketball at Texas A&M||SEC Network|
Tuesday, Feb. 17
|11 a.m.||REPLAY: Women’s Basketball at Texas A&M||SEC Network|
Our teams need your support, so please plan to attend to do your part! A rising tide lifts all boats and it’s up to all of us to Keep the Tide Rising!