Dec. 4, 2015
Another Tense Iron Bowl Victory
The 2015 Iron Bowl was typical of our series with Auburn – a hard-fought, emotional and physical game that went down to the fourth quarter, just as we all expected. The weather was beautiful, the crowd was electric, and the Crimson Tide rose to the occasion winning the fourth quarter in championship fashion and winning the game. It was a true team effort with offense, defense, and special teams all making outstanding plays to ensure the victory.
The win propelled Alabama into the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta this Saturday against a 10-2, 18th-ranked ranked Florida Gators team that locked up the SEC’s Eastern Division championship several weeks ago. The resilience and tenacity of this Alabama team is very impressive to me. We have played a very difficult schedule in the toughest division in college football, with road games against Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn, and have improved as the season went along. Our coaches and players have worked hard and deserve all the credit that goes with being the SEC Western Division Champions. Now, we look forward to the challenge and opportunity to win back-to-back SEC Championships.
Every team that makes it to the SEC Championship is good and this Florida team, led by former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, is no exception. Jim inherited a top-ranked defensive team and a struggling offensive unit when he came from Colorado State last year to bring the Gators back to respectability. Florida has one of the best defensive teams in the country again this season, and they present a formidable challenge to our team. Jim worked miracles with the Florida offense and built confidence and instilled energy enough to win 10 games and earn a berth in this year’s SEC Championship Game. We need to play our best to win against a talented Gators team that has great speed and a lot of experience. We are counting on a strong showing of Crimson Tide fans to give us the home field advantage we have enjoyed in previous games played in Atlanta.
SEC Championship Game Sets the Pace for All Others
The SEC Championship game has been, by far, the most successful college football conference championship game in the country. The fans have embraced it, and its central location, great team match-ups, and excellent game production have made it a play-in game to the national championship for the last several years.
It is an honor and a privilege to participate in the SEC Championship Game. We are very proud to have played in and won as many as we have. In the 24 years since its beginning in Birmingham in 1992, Alabama teams will have played in 10, counting this year’s game. Under Coach Saban’s leadership, Alabama will have played in five of the last eight including Saturday’s contest. It is interesting to note that, in the 10 games we have played, we have faced the Gators eight times, and Georgia and Missouri once each. We are excited about the opportunity to represent the SEC Western Division this Saturday.
A-Club Jacket Ceremony
This past Monday I had the pleasure to participate in a ceremony in Coleman Coliseum in which almost 100 student-athletes received their first Alabama letters for participating in their respective sports. The letters, of course, were sewn onto good looking crimson and white jackets and we hope they will wear them proudly for many years to come. This is their first letter and they will get other awards as they earn letters in the future.
The A-Club Alumni Association is open to former letter winners in all sports that the University of Alabama has offered over its history. Under Mal Moore’s leadership, along with several who have taken on leadership roles, a once dormant organization has turned it into a very active and special asset. They have been on a mission to expand membership, organize sport-specific committees, and provide support to the athletics department, in general, and individual sports, in particular. Over the last few years, the A-Club Alumni Association has given more than a million dollars in endowed athletic scholarship funds in the names of Mal Moore, Sarah Patterson, Jay Seawell, Mic Potter and Patrick Murphy. Another Alabama national championship coach is expected to be so honored during the 2015-16 academic year.
The A-Club also donates a percentage of its revenues to the A-Club Educational and Charitable Foundation, a separate organization designed to help former student-athletes in need. The A-Club is also the largest donor in the building and operation of our new Susan & Gaylon McCollough A-Club Career and Leadership Development Center, housed in our Academic Center. Jessie Gardner, Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement, has been on board for more than a year now and is making great progress in building something that we think will be very valuable to current and former Alabama student-athletes.
Our vision is to see the A-Club become a large international network of former Alabama letter winners, actively engaged through technology as well as through trips back to the campus. We see that as a powerful network that can benefit all current and former student-athletes in many different ways. I invite you to explore and find out what Jessie is developing on our behalf.
A Great Week for Alabama Basketball
Thanksgiving week turned out to be a significant one in the progress of our men’s and women’s basketball programs, with the men’s team earning landmark wins over a couple of nationally-ranked teams (Wichita State and Notre Dame) at the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Fla., while the women’s team won the tournament title at the Nugget Classic in Reno, Nevada.
The men’s team played three ranked teams in a span of four days in Orlando, and won two of those games, knocking off then-No. 20 Wichita State, 64-60, on Friday and defeating then-No. 17 Notre Dame, 74-73, on Sunday. Those victories marked the first time since the 2006 season that Alabama has captured consecutive wins over ranked teams. Coach Avery Johnson has delivered on his promise to increase the team’s tempo. The Tide’s adjusted tempo is at 70.1 possessions per game, a significant increase from a year ago when the Tide ranked 293rd in adjusted tempo with an average of 62.4 possessions per game. Our dunk statistics affirm that as well. The Tide has 20 dunks through six games, an average of just over three dunks per game. Our opponents, meanwhile, have combined for only seven dunks so far this season.
The Tide women are off to a 6-1 start after playing five games in 11 days. Coach Kristy Curry and her team started off 6-0 for the first time since 2002 with a 67-60 victory over Utah Valley last Saturday in Reno. Sophomore Hannah Cook was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while fellow sophomore Meoshonti Knight earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Hannah recorded her first career double-double in a win over Middle Tennessee and averaged 12 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals at the tournament. Meoshonti averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds 1.5 steals and led Alabama with 3.0 assists per game.
The men’s team continues its five-game road trip tonight in Hattiesburg, Miss., against Southern Mississippi. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT. The women’s team absorbed its first loss of the season at Tennessee-Martin earlier this week, and is set to host Alcorn State on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT in Foster Auditorium.
SEC Legend Woodrow Lowe Honored This Weekend
This weekend in Atlanta the SEC and The University of Alabama are former Crimson Tide linebacker Woodrow Lowe as a 2015 SEC Legend. Woodrow was one of our all-time great linebackers, playing for Coach Bryant from 1972-75, and he is one of a select group of Alabama players to be named a three-time All-American, earning the honor from 1973-75. As a junior in 1974, Woodrow earned consensus All-America honors and led the Crimson Tide to a third straight SEC title and a berth in the Orange Bowl. As a senior in 1975, he again earned first-team All-America honors and served as team captain for the Crimson Tide as Alabama captured its fourth straight SEC title and a trip to the Sugar Bowl where they beat Penn State, 13-6.
Woodrow was Alabama’s all-time leading tackler with 315 when he finished his career in 1975 and still ranks fourth in career stops now. Following his senior season, he was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He missed only one game in 11 seasons with the Chargers and tallied 21 interceptions while returning four for touchdowns. Woodrow was named to Alabama’s first-team All-Decade Team and was a second-team All-Century selection in 1992. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. Following his career with the Chargers, Woodrow served as an assistant coach with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders and in the college ranks.
Crimson Tide Football Leads the Way in Awards Finalists
The Crimson Tide leads all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools for the most nominees for national college football awards this season as three of our players are up for several awards. The annual ESPN College Football Awards show moves from Orlando to Atlanta this year, and will be held next week (Thursday, Dec. 10) at the College Football of Fame in downtown Atlanta.
Our outstanding running back, Derrick Henry, is a finalist for two awards to be presented that night, the Maxwell Award for the outstanding player in college football, and the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in the country. Of course, as you know, we are hopeful that Derrick will be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy to be awarded on Saturday, Dec. 12, but finalists for the Heisman will not be announced until Monday evening, Dec. 7. Joining Derrick in Atlanta will be our great linebacker and team leader, Reggie Ragland, who is up for the Bednarik Award as college football’s best defensive player. Reggie is also a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy as college football’s finest defensive player as well as the Butkus Award as college football’s finest linebacker. Our fine defensive lineman, A’Shawn Robinson, is a finalist for the Outland Trophy for the nation’s best interior lineman.
The entire Crimson Tide offensive line is also up for an award, the Joe Moore Award, an honor that will recognize the toughest, most physical offensive line unit in the country. Joe Moore was a long-time offensive line coach at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The award was created with the help of former Notre Dame All-American offensive guard Aaron Taylor, who played for Moore, and is college football analyst for CBS Sports. Moore is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the history of the sport. The five finalists and the winner are selected by a committee of voters made up of all 128 FBS offensive line coaches, media members who played offensive line and a legacy committee including colleagues of Moore and players who were coached by him.
And our fine defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, has been named a finalist for the Broyles Award honoring college football’s finest assistant coach. This is nothing new for Kirby, as you know, who won the honor a few years ago. It is a fitting tribute to his outstanding work for our program over the last nine seasons. We know he’s the best, but here’s hoping the voters make if official, once again.
More Than 30 Student-Athletes Will Graduate Next Weekend
Final exams get underway next week, which means graduation is right around the corner. This semester we have more than 30 student-athletes slated to earn their degrees, which is one of the primary tenets of our Mission. More than 20 football players are on the list this semester, including Kenyon Drake, Reggie Ragland, Cyrus Jones, Jarran Reed, Alphonse Taylor and Dominick Jackson. Our quarterback/center tandem of Jake Coker and Ryan Kelly are both graduating again after finishing up their master’s degrees this semester. We’re very proud of our graduates, who have balanced academics and athletics beautifully during their Crimson Tide tenures.
Fulfilling the Mission: NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships
On the national stage, the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship is highly coveted, allowing student-athletes to continue their education after their eligibility has ended. This is another area where The University of Alabama has been highly productive. In fact, since 2010, Crimson Tide student-athletes have earned two dozen of the scholarships in 10 different sports, including a school-record seven in 2014. Our 2014 total led the nation. Sarah DeMeo, Kim Jacob and Diandra Milliner from our gymnastics squad earned scholarships that year, as did Stephanie Meadow (women’s golf), Cory Whitsett (men’s golf), Mary Anne Daines (women’s tennis) and Daniil Proskura (men’s tennis). This is just another area where the pursuit of excellence in all areas of our Mission has provided outstanding opportunities for our student-athletes beyond athletics pursuits.
What Sport Are You Most Passionate About?
What Crimson Tide sport or program are you most passionate about? Do you cheer the gymnastics ladies at every meet? Are you excited about watching your first Crimson Tide baseball game at the new “Joe”? Do you count down the Saturdays waiting to watch the Crimson Tide take the field at Bryant-Denny? With 21 teams, there is definitely something for everyone to be passionate about. Each team also has specific needs that will allow them to prepare to compete at a championship level. I encourage you to think about your fondest memories of Crimson Tide Athletics and support that program. The Crimson Tide Foundation development staff is always available to help you find a way to support the sport or program most important to you. You can learn more about each of our sports and ways to support them at the Crimson Tide Foundation website. You can also reach out to a Development staff member for assistance or to answer any questions.
Track & Field
The most recent recruiting class signed by Coach Dan Waters and his staff has been ranked third in the nation by Track and Field News, as released by the publication in its January 2016 edition. This marks the third straight season that Dan and his staff have signed a recruiting class ranked in the top five nationally, as the 2013 class also ranked third while the 2014 class was fifth, one of only two schools nationally (Florida State is the other) to have signed top-five recruiting classes during that same stretch. The Crimson Tide’s indoor season begins Friday, January 15, at the Commodore Indoor Invitational in Nashville, Tenn.
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, December 5
|Football||SEC Championship Game vs. Florida||Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.||4 p.m. ET|
Sunday, December 6
|Women’s Basketball||vs. Alcorn State||Foster Auditorium||2 p.m. CT|
Where to See, Listen and Follow Alabama Sports
Here’s how to follow Crimson Tide teams in action this week via TV, radio, rolltide.com and social media (access a complete listing of Alabama Athletics social media platforms):
Online Streaming: SEC Network +
Live Stats: www.rolltide.com
TV: CBS Sports
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (check local listings)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 81; XM 81
Live Stats: www.rolltide.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, December 5
|8 a.m.||REPLAY: Football vs. LSU||SEC Network|
|11:30 a.m.||REPLAY: Football at Auburn||SEC Network|
|9 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
Sunday, December 6
|4 a.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
|11 a.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
|2 p.m.||Women’s Basketball vs. Alcorn State||SEC Network +|
|3 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
|7 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
Monday, December 7
|3 a.m.||REPLAY: Football at Auburn||SEC Network|
|8 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
Tuesday, December 8
|2 a.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
|11 a.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Florida||SEC Network|
Thursday, December 10
|12 a.m.||REPLAY: Football at Auburn||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!