By Stan J. Griffin: February 19, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

It is nearly impossible to measure the impact that Nick and Terry Saban have had on the University of Alabama campus, as well as the Tuscaloosa community in general since their arrival in 2007.
This not includes the four national championships that Nick Saban has been able to collect since becoming the head coach of the Alabama football program, including the recent 2015 national title, but also academically, and the hundreds of lives that the couple have been able to benefit through charitable entities such as the Nick's Kids Foundation.

That foundation is certainly close to the heart of Alabama's widely-respected football coach as it was established by the couple in 1998, while he was still the football coach at Michigan State University. It was named for his father, the late Nick Saban, Sr.

The good work of that foundation, which has distributed millions of dollars to deserving organizations and causes, was on display once again Friday, February 19 in the Alberta City area of Tuscaloosa as the Sabans were on hand to present a check for $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity for a new house being constructed on Juanita Drive.

That house, being built for Anthony and Angel Taylor and their two children, is being called the 16th National Championship House, in conjunction with Alabama's 16 national championships in football.

By Stan J. Griffin: February 17, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

After playing its first five games of the 2016 season at the UCF Invitational in Orlando, Fla., Patrick Murphy's No. 5 Alabama softball team finally played its first in-state game Tuesday, battling the host UAB Blazers.
And those who attended were treated to a dazzling pitching display by all three Crimson Tide weapons in the circle.
That trio combined to throw the 26th no-hitter in program history, defeating UAB 7-0. Alabama improved to 5-1 with the victory.
Crimson Tide freshman Madi Moore (3-0) earned the win in the circle, throwing 4.1 hitless innings while junior Sydney Littlejohn and sophomore All-American Alexis Osorio combined with 2.2 hitless innings in relief. The Alabama offense backed up the stellar pitching effort with seven runs on seven hits, including the first career hit for freshman Merris Schroder. Kallie Case drove in two of the Tide’s seven runs while Sydney Booker scored twice.
UAB (1-5) had no answer to the Tide pitching staff, with JoJo Fallen as the Blazers’ only baserunner, drawing two walks. Starter Madison Hir (1-2) was one of four pitchers to see time in the game, taking the loss after 3.1 innings with three earned runs allowed.

By Stan J. Griffin: February 13, 2016

Thanks to a stunning display of poise and resiliency by Avery Johnson's Alabama basketball team Saturday in Gainesville, Fla., the Crimson Tide was able to keep one good streak going, while finally putting a halt to a couple of other streaks that were not quite so palatable.
Despite senior leaders Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards fouling out just seconds apart late in the second half against Mike White's Florida team, Alabama was able to hold on for a huge 61-55 victory over the Gators at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The Crimson Tide improved to 15-9 overall on the season and 6-6 in Southeastern Conference play as it extended its current win streak to four games. It also defeated Florida on its home court for the first time since 1995. Florida had also beaten Alabama 11 times in a row entering Saturday's contest.
The Gators fell to 16-9 overall and 7-5 in SEC play, as Alabama became the first conference team this season to defeat them at their home arena.
Led by the play of forward Michael Kessens, Alabama jumped to the early 8-2 advantage before the Gators scored six in a row to tie the contest at 8-8.
The game was back-and-forth after this, although both teams were relatively cold from the field.
Shannon Hale hit a trey to put the Tide up 13-10, but Florida, controlling the boards for the most part, scored four in a row to go up 14-13 at the 8:19 mark of the first half.
With Florida up 17-15, Obasohan hit a 3-point bomb to put the Tide up 18-17. Florida, though, used a 6-2 run after this to take a 23-20 lead at the 2:26 mark.

By Stan J. Griffin: February 8, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

For the No. 4 University of Alabama gymnastics team, the midseason point has arrived, with its first six meets now out of the way.
And although Dana Duckworth's team (3-3 overall, and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference competition) is a bit banged up, much like many other squads around the nation at this point, there are still five meets left before the Crimson Tide competes at the SEC Championship on March 19 at North Little Rock, Ark.
Two of those meets are set for this coming weekend, as Alabama will battle arch-rival Auburn on the Plains on Friday night, and then will turn around and square off against West Virginia at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday (3 p.m.).
Duckworth said Monday that she feels her squad is in fairly good shape for this juncture of the season.
"We are halfway there, and there are typical banged-up little things here and there and (athletic trainer) Monica Kirkpatrick is doing a phenomenal job and making sure we stay consistent with our treatments, our massages, our rehab and trying to get as much rest,"  she said. "Last week (the time spent on training leading up to this past Friday's meet against Kentucky) wasn't nearly as much as it should have been, and I think that's what really translated when I said (to the media) that we kind of competed how we practiced. That's why I'm not that upset because we're putting more time in this week, and by the design of our schedule, we kind of had to do that. We had to give them that downloading week to now build back up. We're pretty healthy, and we've got (senior) Carley (Sims) coming back (from an ankle procedure) and we've got some issues that we've got to keep going in the right direction. We still have to watch (junior Amanda) Jetter's ankle and we still have to watch (freshman) Ari (Guerra's) ankle and we have to watch (sophomore) Kiana (Winston's) hamstring and the list goes on and it gets scary, but it's all manageable."

By Stan J. Griffin: February 4, 2016

Although it will soon be a whole new, and possibly scary world for the 17 brand new members of the University of Alabama football Class of 2016, a class that was once again hailed as the nation's best on Wednesday, eight other members of Wednesday's talent-rich class already have a head start on life in Tuscaloosa and getting acclimated to the Crimson Tide system.
Alabama's big National Signing Day group included the signings of eight prospects who enrolled in January at UA, and, therefore, will be eligible to participate in spring practice early this semester.
Those include offensive lineman Charles Baldwin of Windsor, Connecticut, linebacker Christian Bell of Hoover, tight end Miller Forristall of Cartersville, Ga., quarterback Jalen Hurts of Channelview, Texas, linebacker Shawn Jennings of Dadeville, offensive lineman Chris Owens of Arlington, Texas, wide receiver T.J. Simmons of Pinson and offensive lineman Jonah Williams of Folsom, California.
One of those early enrollees, Bell, who played for Josh Niblett at the prep football powerhouse that is Hoover High School, actually committed to the Tide in April of 2014, but was requested by UA to grayshirt, meaning that he did not become part of Alabama's scholarship count until this year.
Grayshirts are not immediately permitted to enroll as full-time students or receive scholarship benefits or be a part of the program in any official capacity, including practices.
Bell said the grayshirt process ultimately became a positive experience for him.
"I learned a lot mentally, and physically on my body," he said. "I became mentally strong and I know I got a lot faster since last year. (Some members of the UA program) were telling me what I needed to work on and I had a trainer that I would go to in the morning and I was coaching a Little League team."

By Stan J. Griffin: February 1, 2016

Much like Avery Johnson with the University of Alabama basketball team, Ben Howland is in his first year of leading the Mississippi State hoops program, while also facing a similar rebuilding process that Johnson is encountering with the Crimson Tide.
Under Howland, a veteran coach whose impressive resume includes taking tradition-rich UCLA to back-to-back Final Fours in 2007 and 2008, the Bulldogs have struggled thus far to a 9-11 overall record, including a 2-6 mark in Southeastern Conference play that matches the Tide's conference record.
Those two rebuilding programs square off Tuesday night in Starkville as Johnson's Crimson Tide team (11-9 overall) will battle the Bulldogs in Humphrey Coliseum.
The game is set for an 8 p.m tip and will be televised by SEC Network.
Johnson, whose team is coming off a physical 78-64 loss at South Carolina on Saturday, a foul-plagued effort by his team which saw four of his players disqualified due to fouls, said Monday that he hopes his team is ready to rebound from the loss with another road challenge.
"Ready to get back on the court and we had a really good practice today and we get back on the road tomorrow," he said. "We're playing against a team that's pretty dangerous, and they've got a lot of guys that can handle the basketball with (freshman guard Quinndary) Witherspoon, (freshman guard Malik) Newman and (senior guard Craig) Sword. They can all handle the ball and make 3s, they can get inside your defense and they have a couple of big guys that can shoot the ball for three. So it puts your defense in a bind, and we've got to play well and sustain more of our effort for a longer period of time, handle some of the what I call down cycles of the game better as we continue to go through this maturation process. We're always excited to strap it up today in practice and then we'll be ready to play tomorrow."

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

In its last non-conference game before entering Southeastern Conference play next week, Avery Johnson's University of Alabama basketball team struggled somewhat in the early going against Robert Jones' Norfolk State team on Saturday, allowing the Spartans to hang around for a half.
But the Crimson Tide (9-3), led by seniors Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards, turned it up a notch offensively and defensively in the final 20 minutes on the way to a 68-49 victory in front of 10,884 at Coleman Coliseum.

Courtesy of DCM Fan Zone

By Erik Stinnett

He's been called a machine. As he powered his way into the history books last Saturday at Auburn, Derrick Henry looked every bit of that description.

Prior to last Saturday, only two running backs in the SEC have ever rushed for 200-plus yards four times in one season. Two guys you might be familiar with. Herschel Walker. And Bo Jackson. Well, now there's three. Add Henry to that super short list.
And the way Henry accomplished that feat Saturday was just as impressive.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 25, 2015

Where have we seen this script before?
The No. 2 University of Alabama football team, very much in the chase for Southeastern Conference and national titles, heads into Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday as it looks to at least lock up the SEC West championship against its biggest rival in the Iron Bowl.
If it sounds familiar, it should, as this was the exact scenario entering the Iron Bowl on The Plains in 2013 as Nick Saban's Crimson Tide entered that game with similar aspirations.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 21, 2015

On a wild and wacky day of college football that saw South Carolina fall to FCS opponent The Citadel at home, No. 8 Florida forced into overtime before finally getting past 30-point underdog Florida Atlantic and No. 3 Ohio State beaten at home by Michigan State, Nick Saban's No. 2 Alabama team made it abundantly clear early that it was not about to become yet another victim to the chaos of the day.

The Crimson Tide used an efficient and balanced offensive onslaught, while the Alabama defense registered yet another shutdown performance, to lead Alabama to a convincing 56-6 romp over FCS member Charleston Southern Saturday before a crowd of 100,611 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Tide improved to 10-1 on the season, guaranteeing a seventh-consecutive season of 10 victories or more, while Jamey Chadwell's Buccaneers of the Big South Conference fell to 9-2.

“I was really pleased with the way our guys came out today," said Saban about his team's big win on Senior Day. "Sometimes we have played a little lackluster in games like this, especially this time of year. With the players, I told them if you’re not inspired to play every play that you play, then you’re kind of cheating yourself because you’re not who you are and how you compete. I certainly was pleased with the way we went out there and executed well. Their guys really played well when they believe in what they do, and they do it well. I was surprised that they didn’t play No. 4 (senior Austin Brown) at quarterback. I thought our guys did a better job on the option today, which was hard to simulate. We got to play a lot of players on both sides of the ball, and I think that’s something that we really needed to do in this game to get those guys some experience and to get more guys ready to play down the road. I thought it was great to recognize our seniors as they have made a tremendous contribution to the program not only on the field, but additionally in the way that they represented off the field with how well they’ve done in the classroom and the kind of ambassadors they’ve been for the University and the program."


Alabama, led by the big efforts of Cyrus Jones, Derrick Henry and Calvin Ridley among others, rolled to a 28-0 advantage at the end of the first 15 minutes, a 49-0 cushion by halftime, and then cruised in the second half, playing a host of reserves and younger players.

The Tide scored on its first five offensive possessions, and also scored on a pair of punt returns for touchdowns by Jones to overwhelm the visiting Bucs early and often.

The UA defense, meanwhile, held CSU to 134 total yards (85 rushing, 49 passing) and eight first downs in the game, holding the Buccaneers to 1-of-10 on third downs while causing two turnovers (one fumble and one interception).

Cornerback Bradley Sylve and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson both had four tackles each to lead Alabama.

After taking the opening kickoff, it did not take long for the Crimson Tide offense to get going behind the play of Coker and Henry.

Beginning its initial possession at the UA 36, the Tide methodically drove 64 yards in 9 plays, with Henry capping the march with a 17-yard touchdown run, his 20th TD of the season. Despite playing only the first quarter of Saturday's contest, the junior tailback  rushed for 68 yards on 9 carries with two touchdowns.

With just under six minutes left in the opening quarter, Henry capped a 10-play, 55-yard Alabama drive with his 21st touchdown of the season, a 2-yard run to make the score 14-0. His 21 scoring runs ties the UA single-season touchdown rush record of Trent Richardson, set in 2011.

Following a poor punt by the Buccaneers later in the period, Alabama set up shop at the CSU 35.

On the second play of the series, Coker found senior receiver Richard Mullaney on a 21-yard scoring pass in which Mullaney did a nice job of keeping his feet in bounds and corralling the pass. Alabama now led 21-0.

With no time remaining in the quarter, Jones took a CSU punt and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-0. Jones, the senior cornerback,  also had a punt return for a touchdown in the Tide's previous game against Mississippi State.

"It was a bittersweet moment with it being my last game here with the guys I came in with," said Jones, who also had a forced fumble and recovered fumble on the same play in the contest. "Just with this team, it’s been a special year. I felt good about that, making plays and doing what I had to do.”

About midway through the second quarter, Alabama put together a solid 86-yard drive, and the Tide went back to the air to complete the march as Coker connected with Ridley on a 30-yard TD pass to build the advantage to 35-0.

A few moments later, Jones took another line drive punt by the Bucs and went the distance again for a 72-yard touchdown. He became the first Tide player to return two punts for scores in a game. Alabama's advantage had now swelled to 42-0.

With just under two minutes left before halftime, freshman tailback Bo Scarbrough accounted for Alabama's final points of the first half as he scored on a 1-yard run.
The 49 points scored by the Tide were the most in a half by an Alabama team since scoring 52 points against Vanderbilt in 1990 when Gene Stallings was coaching the Crimson Tide

After a scoreless third period, the Buccaneers struck for their only points of the contest early in the fourth quarter as quarterback Kyle Copeland scored on a 3-yard run to cap a 7-play, 74-yard CSU drive to prevent a shutout by the home team.  A two-point conversion failed and the new score was 49-6.

Late in the fourth quarter, Alabama scored its final points as freshman tailback Damien Harris scored his first touchdown at UA via a 6-yard run.

The Tide racked up 23 first downs in the romp, as well as 403 total yards (195 on the ground and 208 in the air).

Scarbrough, in his first significant action at UA, led the Tide in rushing with 69 yards on 10 carries and a score. Harris added 44 yards on his 10 carries while also adding his late TD.

Coker was an efficient 11 of 13 on the day for 155 yards and two TDs while backup Cooper Bateman completed 7 of 11 passes for 47 yards.

Ridley had 4 catches for 49 yards and a score while Ardarius Stewart also caught 4 passes for 45 yards. Cam Sims caught 3 passes for 25 yards.

Jones totaled 115 return yards on his two big scoring plays. 

He also had three tackles for loss in the Tide win while Jabriel Washington contributed an interception.

"Well, the outcome was probably what we expected," said Chadwell. "I was hoping we would put up a little more of a fight there in the first half. Our other guys came out and competed in the second half, which was good to see. Our main goal was to come in here and not get hurt, not get injured. I think we accomplished that. They’re obviously a good team.”

Alabama completes its regular season next Saturday, Nov. 28 in arguably college football's biggest rivalry, as the Tide travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the annual Iron Bowl clash with Gus Malzahn's 6-6 Auburn Tigers. Auburn defeated Idaho Saturday to become bowl-eligible.
Kickoff is slated for 2:39 p.m. CST, and the game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine


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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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