Oct. 23, 2015
A Memorable Win in a Special Atmosphere
Last week’s game at Texas A&M was another great SEC road win against a top 10 team in front of a very loud and boisterous crowd. Our team played extremely well on both sides of the ball and enjoyed a true team victory. Listening to our team singing “Yea Alabama” in a victorious locker room is the sweetest sound on Earth!
A&M’s redeveloped Kyle Field, a $450 million dollar project, was most impressive. It may be the loudest stadium in the country as 105,733 people packed the stands beyond the 102,733 capacity and they all were pretty close to the field. And the Aggies do know how to cheer and support their team. I didn’t get to see too much of the stadium, but what I saw was very well done.
The Tide rolled early and often, but the Aggies kept fighting and competed hard to take it into the fourth quarter before it was decided. A dominant defensive performance by our team not only held A&M in check but also produced 21 points directly on three interceptions, setting up a field goal with a fourth interception. The three interception returns for touchdowns was a first in our history. Our offense controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game and Derrick Henry rushed for a career-best 236 yards that included a 55-yard touchdown, his 12th game in a row to score (a school record).
While A&M fans are very vocal in support of their team, they may also be the best sports and most respectful to their opponents before and after the game. My hat is off to their team and fans for the playing the game as it should be played.
This Week: Taking On Tennessee
Next up is a Tennessee Volunteers team that is young, talented and improving every day. They are the best three-loss team in the SEC and, probably, in the nation. They could easily be 6-0, as they lost very close games to Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas. They came from behind two weeks ago to beat a good Georgia team. With Tennessee having an extra week to prepare for our game (the Vols did not play last Saturday, Oct. 17), it will take our best effort to earn a victory on Saturday.
Tennessee has a solid defense. Their offense features a strong running game with good downhill-style running backs and a sound offensive line. They may have the best quarterback in the SEC in Josh Dobbs. He made his college debut against us last year in Knoxville and has improved steadily from there. He is an excellent passer, but he also is a good athlete that can extend pass plays and make significant yardage running the ball.
The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry, known traditionally as “The Third Saturday in October,” despite being played on the fourth Saturday of this October, goes far back in history. There is great respect on both sides for the opposing team. It has been a great rivalry over the years and the winner has gone on many times to win the SEC championship. I look for another heavyweight contest that will be decided in the fourth quarter.
This Week’s Honorary Captain: Lee Roy Jordan
Our honorary game captain this week is my longtime friend and teammate, Lee Roy Jordan. Lee Roy and I entered school at Alabama in 1959. In 1957, Alabama lost 10 games and lost to Auburn, 40–0. In 1958, Coach Bryant came home and started to reverse that trend. Our signing class was the first full class that Coach Bryant recruited, as players signed in early December in those days and about half of the 1958 class had signed before Coach Bryant finished the 1957 season at Texas A&M by playing Tennessee in the Gator Bowl. Others in our class included Richard Williamson, Jimmy Sharpe, Butch Wilson, Cotton Clark and Mike Fracchia, in addition to many others. Lee Roy came from Excel, Ala., a town with a population of about 500. Not too many of us had heard of Lee Roy, or Excel, but it didn’t take but one or two practices to see that he was really something special. He was a great All-American linebacker for the Crimson Tide and was a perennial All-Pro linebacker during his 14 years with the Dallas Cowboys. He is as good a person as he was a football player, and he also married very well. His wife, Biddie, keeps him in check and could be confused with Martha Stewart as a primo cook and hostess!
We had three great varsity years at Alabama going 8-1-2 in 1960, 11-0 while winning the SEC and national championships in 1961, and 10-1 in 1962. By the way, Alabama beat Auburn all four years we were in school while not allowing the Tigers to score a single point in those games. We tied Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1960, beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl in 1961, and beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl in 1962. Lee Roy was the bell cow of the team and a great leader. He went on to win a Super Bowl with the Cowboys (in 1971) and earned a place in both the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame as well as the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. If you are attending this Saturday’s game, I hope you will go by the Bryant Museum and meet Lee Roy. He will be signing autographs at the Bryant Museum from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Fulfilling the Mission: NCAA Elite 89 Winners
When our great gymnast, Lauren Beers, was presented with her second consecutive NCAA Elite 89 Award prior to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships last spring, it marked our 14th Elite 89 honor since the award’s inception in 2009-10. That total ties The University of Alabama with Stanford for the most honors in the accolade’s history. The NCAA Elite 89 Award truly is an amazing honor, presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average at each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.
Alabama and Stanford are five ahead of North Carolina and Nebraska, which are tied for third. The NCAA Elite 89 Award is unique because it honors the top scholar-athlete on that sport’s largest stage. Kassi Price, a three-time Academic All-American gymnast, earned Alabama’s first Elite 89 Award in its inaugural season back in 2010. She was followed by golfer Brooke Pancake that same spring, who would go on to lead our women’s golf team to its first NCAA Championship in 2012. From there, we have had at least one student earn the award each year including Nathan Corder (cross country, 2010), Rachel Terry, who became the first UA student-athlete to earn the honor twice (gymnastics, 2011 and 2012). Mary Ann MacFarlane (2012) and Emily Zabor (2013 and 2014) combined to bring three Elite 89 trophies to our women’s tennis program. Honda Cup winner Kim Jacob earned the honor for gymnastics in 2013. Cory Whitsett, who led our men’s golf team to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2013 and 2014, is another two-time Elite 89 Award recipient (2012 and 2013) while Stephanie Meadow, a member of our 2012 NCAA women’s golf championship team, also earned Elite 89 recognition (2014).
Of the 10 Crimson Tide student-athletes to earn this honor, all of them were part of either an NCAA or SEC championship team or, in the case of Pancake, Terry, Whitsett, Jacob and Meadow, both. Eight of our honorees – Price, Pancake, Terry, MacFarlane, Whitsett, Jacob, Beers and Meadow – also earned All-America honors. Alabama gymnastics is the only program in the history of the award, regardless of sport, gender or division, to win the NCAA Elite 89 Award in every year of its existence, going a perfect 6-for-6 through last spring.
Crimson Tide Foundation Honors Lifetime Giving
As the Department of Athletics is self-sustaining, all private gifts contribute directly to the needs of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Private support enables Crimson Tide Athletics to increase its standing, in both athletics and academics, over competing universities. The Lifetime Giving Society was created to recognize the generosity, loyalty, pride and passion displayed by donors to the Department of Athletics.
The Crimson Tide Foundation recognizes the lifetime contributions of donors by placing them into one of four levels within the Society. The pinnacle of this organization is the Bryant Society, distinguishing individuals and organizations who have made contributions of at least $1 million. Last night, we formally inducted 16 individuals and organizations as the inaugural class of the Bryant Society.
These supporters have made an immeasurable difference to Crimson Tide Athletics. Without their unparalleled support, we would not have the championship facilities, top-tier coaches and talented student-athletes currently calling Alabama home. They have transformed Alabama Athletics with their generosity. We are humbled to thank them for their unwavering support. The 2015 Bryant Society Inductees include:
- A-Club Alumni Association
- Bill Battle
- Paul Bryant, Jr.
- Angus R. Cooper, II
- James M. Fail
- Johnny Johns
- Edward A. Labry, III
- Judy Livingston
- John McMahon
- Beverly and Larry Morris
- Carol and Tom Patterson
- Barbara and John Plott
- Ann Rhoads
- Phillip Shapiro, Jr.
- Steven D. Smith and Sarah Frances Smith
- Sallie and Warren Williamson
Honoring Our Champions from the 2014-15 Year
Earlier this afternoon, I took part in one of my favorite events on the annual calendar as we celebrated our latest team and individual champions with an unveiling at the Sarah Patterson Champions Plaza, located in front of Coleman Coliseum. The ceremony included the student-athletes and coaches from the Tide’s 2015 SEC gymnastics championship as well as Alabama’s individual national champions from the 2014-15 academic year. The plaza honors all of Alabama’s SEC and national championship teams other than our football program’s championships, which are recognized in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Today’s was our second ceremony since the plaza was dedicated in 2013. The plaza is a monument to the tradition of excellence and legacy of champions as our late, great Director of Athletics, Mal Moore, intended. The following individual NCAA champion athletes were recognized:
- Remona Burchell (Track & Field) – a three-time NCAA sprint champion, including last year’s championship where she set the collegiate record in the 60-meter dash. Remona graduated in July.
- Quanesha Burks (Track & Field) – the NCAA outdoor long jump champion who became Alabama’s first women’s field event national champion since 2005.
- Kristian Gkolomeev (Men’s Swimming) – a two-time NCAA champion who won the 100 freestyle last spring, the Tide’s first NCAA 100 freestyle champ since current Associate Head Coach Jonty Skinner won it in 1975.
- Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe (Women’s Tennis) – the Crimson Tide’s first national champion doubles team in 2014, they became the first Alabama tandem to win two NCAA doubles titles when they repeated as champions last spring. They also became the first doubles pairing in history to twice be named the ITA National Women’s Doubles Team of the Year.
- Emma Talley (Women’s Golf) – the first individual NCAA golf champion for either the men or women in our storied golf history.
Another Youngster Taken Too Early
This week we learned of the passing of one of our former players who recently left our football program, Altee Tenpenny. His death this week was a shock to us all, as well as a reminder of how delicate life is. It’s always particularly sad when someone dies so young, with all the great possibilities of life still ahead. Our thoughts and prayers are with Altee’s family, friends, teammates, and former mentors and coaches.
Coach Wes Hart’s team earned its second overtime victory of the season last weekend, defeating Georgia, 1-0, on Friday night in Athens. Ga. Sophomore Lacey Clarida scored the game-winning goal in the 109th minute, swiping the ball away from the Georgia goalkeeper before finding the back of the open net to seal the win. This weekend the Tide is looking to keep the momentum going in a pair of home matches vs. Missouri tonight at 7 p.m. and hosting Mississippi State on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Coach Ed Allen’s team bounced back from a Friday loss at Texas A&M with a stellar Sunday performance at LSU, coming back from a 2-1 match deficit to win in five sets, 3-2. Tied at 13-13 in set four, the Tide closed out the match in dominant fashion with a 27-7 run to win set four, 25-16, and set five, 15-4. The match was aired live on The SEC Network, extending our undefeated streak on the network to 8-0. Tonight’s match against Kentucky is the team’s annual Power of Pink event, which raises awareness for the fight against breast cancer. The team will be wearing pink jerseys and the first 150 fans will receive a free Power of Pink t-shirt. The match starts at 7 p.m. so we’d love to see a big crowd at Foster Auditorium to support the team and a great cause. Coach Allen is well-known for his game day attire, always patrolling courtside in a stylish sweater vest. Now, fans have the opportunity to pick what vest he will wear this Sunday against Georgia. There’s the traditional grey sweater, and then there’s one with a little more school spirit. Fans can vote online through Saturday to pick a winner.
Coach Larry Davis’s rowing team earned two top-20 finishes at last weekend’s Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass., placing sixth and 20th. With the sixth-place finish, Alabama is guaranteed one spot in next year’s event, while the 20th-place finish was just short of giving the Crimson Tide a second spot next season. Given the adverse weather conditions on race day, Coach Davis felt the Tide’s two finishes showed plenty of resilience and strength. The Charles River presents a unique challenge with its twisting course and tight turns. The coxswain, who is in charge of directing the boat, is crucial on a course like this and Coach Davis was very impressed with the job that sophomore Emily Navin and senior Kendall Scullion did in that role. Kendall is one of 15 seniors on this year’s team and was an Academic All-Big 12 selection last season, while Emily is one of the team’s two Student-Athlete Advisory Council representatives.
Coach Dan Waters’ men’s and women’s cross country teams hosted the annual Crimson Classic on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Harry Pritchett Running Park in Tuscaloosa. The Tide women took second behind nationally-ranked Oklahoma State, while the men placed sixth. The women’s team had four runners finish in the top 20, led by senior Katelyn Greenleaf’s time of 16:47.41, the fastest time recorded by an Alabama runner in Crimson Classic history. Seniors Meropi Panagiotou and Rebecca Stover, along with junior Hannah Waggoner, also turned in top-20 performances. On the men’s side, junior Antibahs Kosgei was the team’s top finisher. His time of 24:17.47 earned him a runner-up finish and was the top time among all competitors from the Southeastern Conference. Junior Conner Thompson produced a solid race as well, crossing the finish line in 25:04.75, a personal best on the Crimson Tide’s home course. In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region rankings, the men’s and women’s teams remained in the top 10. Both squads will have this weekend off to prepare for the SEC Cross Country Championships, which will be held on Friday, Oct. 30, in College Station, Texas.
Coach Mic Potter’s team is in action this weekend at the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, N.C. This is the sixth appearance at the tournament for the Tide, with the 2013-14 squad claiming the team title. The Landfall Tradition will wrap up the fall portion of this season’s schedule, as the team will continue competition in February.
Coach Avery Johnson and our men’s basketball program hosted a special reunion for former players, coaches and staff members last weekend. More than 80 members of the Crimson Tide men’s basketball family attended the unique event, and were treated to a variety of activities during the two days in Tuscaloosa. The event was part of an effort to reunite former our basketball alums with the current program’s players and staff members. Among the attendees were Keith Askins, Melvin Cheatum, Jim Farmer, Wendell Hudson, Buck Johnson, Derrick McKey, Terrance Meade, Mike Nordholz, Bryan Passink, Eddie Phillips, Wimp Sanderson, Andrew Steele, Gary Waites, Eric Washington, Ennis Whatley and Brian Williams, along with many others. The event began on Friday evening when former letterwinners and staff members enjoyed a social hour, dinner and video presentation. Following dinner, Coach Johnson spoke to the crowd, which was then followed by former players swapping stories and sharing memories. On Saturday, the former players and staff members took part in a complete facility tour, which included seeing the practice gym, locker room area and dressing room. The alums then watched the team’s two-hour practice, followed by lunch alongside current players and coaching staff. As I mentioned last week, signing day is November 11 and we are excited about what is in store for this recruiting class. Also, we are looking forward to the 2015 Tide Tipoff set for this Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Coleman Coliseum. Admission is free to this new season-opening event designed exclusively for students, season ticket holders of all sports, and faculty and staff. Tickets will be required, at no charge, and we are expecting a big crowd. An autograph session will start it off at 6 p.m., followed by a skills completion. After the skills competition, hip hop artist Rae Sremmurd will perform.
Coach Kristy Curry and sophomores Hannah Cook and Karyla Middlebrook traveled to The SEC Network studios in Charlotte, N.C., for SEC Tipoff ’16 on Thursday, an event that serves as the conference’s basketball media day. The Tide will join the Alabama men’s team to officially welcome the season this Tuesday, Oct. 27, when they host Tide Tipoff. The 2015-16 season will open with an exhibition game on Monday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. against Faulkner before opening up the season with a doubleheader with the men’s team on Friday, Nov. 13, in Coleman Coliseum. The women’s game against Alabama A&M will start at 4:30 p.m., while the men’s game versus Kennesaw State is slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip. The excitement generated by last year’s excellent recruiting class figures to be built upon by another top-notch signing class that will be announced on the November 11 signing day.
Coach Patrick Murphy’s team played four games at Rhoads Stadium last weekend, defeating its opponents by a combined score of 28-5. The Crimson Tide showed poise in the pitching circle and excellent balance at the plate, with key contributions from players throughout the entire lineup. The weekend provided our fans with a first look at our newcomers. Those rookies didn’t disappoint, as each of the five new hitters hit above .300 for the weekend while freshman pitcher Madi Moore allowed only three earned runs over 10 innings pitched. Freshmen Reagan Dykes and Caroline Hardy showed their power over the weekend as well, knocking out a pair of home runs. Next, the Tide will close its fall season at Rhoads Stadium this Sunday, Oct. 25, with a doubleheader against Shorter College starting at 1:30 p.m. Game two will start approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Admission will be $5 (cash only). This will be the final opportunity for fans to see the Tide in action before the start of the 2016 season. In honor of its 20th anniversary season, softball will welcome back a large contingent of alumni for a Saturday tailgate prior to the football game, plus a Sunday brunch before the 1:30 p.m. doubleheader. The alumni will be honored on the field at Rhoads Stadium, as they will take their former defensive positions as the team is being introduced. The event is one of two alumni weekends scheduled for this year, as a second one will be held in late April during the Kentucky series, tentatively scheduled for April 22-24.
Coach George Husack’s young, but talented, team hosted 13 teams from across the South for the 2015 USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships last weekend at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. Fourteen of the 18 Southern Region teams were represented, including SEC schools Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide’s duo of sophomore Korey Lovett and freshman Mazen Osama represented the Tide in the championship match of the doubles main draw on Sunday, falling just short in the finals. It was the first time since 2009 that Alabama had a doubles duo play for the regional title. Tide sophomore Sam Edwards won the consolation singles draw. This weekend through Monday a few of our players will compete at the SEC Fall Classic at Auburn.
Coach Jenny Mainz’s women’s team traveled to Auburn last weekend for the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships. Junior Erin Routliffe and freshman Andie Daniell claimed the tournament’s doubles title in dominant fashion. With the victory, Erin and Andie earn an automatic entry into the USTA/ITA National Collegiate Indoor Championships, which will be played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., Nov. 12-15. Up next for the Tide is the annual Roberta Alison Fall Classic, hosted here in Tuscaloosa. The two-day event is scheduled to begin on Friday, Oct. 30.
Swimming and Diving
It’s business as usual at the Alabama Aquatic Center, which means Coach Dennis Pursley and his staff have our swimmers and divers hard at work preparing for a busy month of competition, which gets underway on Halloween in Columbia, S.C., against South Carolina. The Tide follows that up with the Georgia Tech Invitational on Nov. 19-21 and the USA Winter National Championships in early December. All of these meets will play a key role in preparing the team for the championship season after the New Year. The USA Championships will also help some of our athletes prepare for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio.
Gymnastics: The Goblins team won the annual Crimson Tide gymnastics Ghosts and Goblins Intrasquad competition on Thursday evening in front of a big crowd at the Frances Smith Practice Facility in Coleman Coliseum. Coach Dana Duckworth was excited about the energy from the crowd and her team, which is slated to host an open practice on the Coleman Coliseum floor on December 18. The intrasquad marked the beginning of a busy weekend for the Tide gymnastics team, which took part in today’s Celebration of Champions at the Sarah Patterson Champions Plaza, as its 2015 Southeastern Conference title was unveiled. The gymnasts will receive their 2015 SEC championship rings during halftime of the Alabama-Tennessee football game on Saturday afternoon.
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, MT is Mountain Time, PT is Pacific Time):
Saturday, October 24
|Football||vs. Tennessee||Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa||2:39 p.m. CT|
|Women’s Golf||The Landfall Tradition||Wilmington, N.C.||All Day|
|Men’s Tennis||SEC Fall Classic||Auburn, Ala.||All Day|
Sunday, October 25
|Soccer||vs. Mississippi State||UA Soccer Complex in Tuscaloosa||2 p.m. CT|
|Volleyball||vs. Georgia||Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa||2 p.m. CT|
|Women’s Golf||The Landfall Tradition||Wilmington, N.C.||All Day|
|Men’s Tennis||SEC Fall Classic||Auburn, Ala.||All Day|
Monday, October 26
|Men’s Tennis||SEC Fall Classic||Auburn, Ala.||All Day|
Wednesday, October 28
|Volleyball||at Missouri||Columbia, Mo.||7 p.m. CT|
Thursday, October 29
|Soccer||at Arkansas||Fayetteville, Ark.||7 p.m. CT|
Friday, October 30
|Men’s Cross Country||SEC Championships||College Station, Texas||10 a.m. CT|
|Women’s Cross Country||SEC Championships||College Station, Texas||10 a.m. CT|
|Men’s Tennis||USTA $10k Futures||Birmingham, Ala.||All Day|
|Women’s Tennis||Roberta Alison Fall Classic||Tuscaloosa||All Day|
Where to See, Listen and Follow Alabama Sports
Here’s how to follow Crimson Tide teams via TV, radio, rolltide.com, Twitter and Facebook:
Live Stats: www.rolltide.com
TV: CBS Sports
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (check local listings); (Sirius 84/XM 84)
Live Stats: SEC Championships – www.aggieathletics.com
Live Stats: Sunday & Friday – www.rolltide.com
Watch: Sunday www.watchespn.com; Friday – SEC Network +
Radio: Sunday & Friday – 90.7 (WVUA-FM)
Live Stats: Sunday – www.rolltide.com; Wednesday – www.mutigers.com
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. If you can’t make it to our games in person, catch us on radio or TV.
(All times listed are Central Time)
Saturday, October 24
|6 a.m.||REPLAY: 2014 Football at Tennessee||SEC Network|
Sunday, October 25
|2 p.m.||Volleyball vs. Georgia||SEC Network|
|6 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 Football vs. Tennessee||SEC Network|
Wednesday, October 28
|2 a.m.||REPLAY: 2015 Football vs. Tennessee||SEC Network|
|7 p.m.||REPLAY: 2014 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Missouri||SEC Network|
|11 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 Football vs. Tennessee||SEC Network|
|7 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 Football vs. Arkansas||SEC Network +|
Our teams need your support, so please plan to attend to do your part! A rising tide lifts all boats and it takes all of us to Keep the Tide Rising!