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What Oats said about Alabama’s NCAA Tournament matchup with Charleston

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What Oats said about Alabama’s NCAA Tournament matchup with Charleston


Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats was itching to get out of his post-selection show virtual press conference. His Crimson Tide was matched up with Charleston in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and Oats had things to do.

“Gotta get done with this Zoom so I can get to work figuring out how to beat Charleston,” Oats said.

Oats admitted that he hadn’t been especially familiar with the Cougars before the matchup was announced Sunday. However, from what he did know about the team, which earned its NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Coastal Athletic Association, he saw similarities to a group he knows well.

“Pretty similar to us, to be honest with you,” Oats said. “I mean, their offense is top 60 in the country. Their pace of play is top 50. Their 3-point rate is top 20. They’re playing fast, spreading it out, taking a lot of threes. We’re gonna have to see exactly how they get it, but I’m about to see. My staff’s already working on Charleston.”

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Oats and the Crimson Tide are limping into the big dance. UA earned a double-bye in the SEC Tournament, but fell in its first game in Nashville against Florida and is struggling on both ends of the court.

The coach acknowledged things will need to change if Alabama is to make any sort of run to end the season. Meanwhile, Charleston is on a 12-game winning streak and will be looking to start a cinderella story.

“We’re treating it like it’s a whole new season and we’re playing a really good team,” Oats said. “I’ve been on the other side of this. I’ve been a 13-seed playing a four at Buffalo and came in and beat Arizona, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of the mindset of that group. And they’re hungry. I’m sure they can’t wait to play us. They’re excited.”

The game is scheduled for Friday at 6:35 p.m. CT in Spokane. Oats said he was happy with the time and date, noting that playing on Friday helpful for the team to be rested and healthy.

Alabama will have assistant coach Austin Claunch with the team through the postseason, before he heads to UTSA as the head coach of the Roadrunners.

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“So happy for Austin,” Oats said. He’s a great culture guy. He’s a great mind as a head coach, brought a lot to the program. We both learned from each other in the year he was here. I think he’ll do a great job there.”

Alabama’s Friday game will be aired on TruTV.



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Legendary football player from Alabama surprises fans, pops up on reality TV

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Legendary football player from Alabama surprises fans, pops up on reality TV


DeMarcus Ware is a good sport. Why else would a former NFL star wear a koala costume and sing a 1980s pop song on reality TV?

Ware, an Auburn native and Pro Football Hall of Famer, made a surprise appearance on “The Masked Singer” this week, covering “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. As it turns out, the powerhouse athlete has some pretty impressive pipes. Ware showed off his vocal skills on Wednesday’s episode with a rendition of the 1985 synth-pop hit.

On “The Masked Singer,” celebrities compete in elaborate costumes, shielding their identities until they’re eliminated or declared the season’s winner.

Ware, 41, performed on the show as Koala, wearing a furry headpiece and an outfit that evoked a swashbuckling adventurer. (Think the Three Musketeers or Puss in Boots from the “Shrek” movies.) None of the judges on “The Masked Singer” guessed his identity correctly, although they came close by naming former NFL players such as Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Terry Crews.

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At the end of the episode, Ware was unmasked and eliminated. But he made a strong impression on the show, stumping judges Rita Ora, Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke and Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg. All four applauded his performance and proclaimed Ware “a really good singer,” then gasped in surprise when he lifted off the Koala headpiece. Fans in the studio audience seemed astonished, as well.

Ware was gracious as he made an exit from the show, telling host Nick Cannon he had a great time singing in costume.

“All my life, I always wore a mask, but I sacked quarterbacks doing that,” Ware said. “And now I put on the Koala mask and no one knew who I was, and so the true personality of me actually came out. I got to have fun. This was one of the funnest experiences I’ve ever had.”

Ware, an outside linebacker and defensive end, spent most of his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. With the Cowboys, Ware excelled at sacks and forced fumbles, and he helped the Broncos to win Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers. He retired from pro football in 2017.

Ware’s Alabama roots run deep; he attended Auburn High School, joining the football team in his junior year. Ware moved on to Troy University, where he was a standout on the Troy Trojans football team. As a senior at Troy, he was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

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Although Ware may have been fierce on the field, he showed his softer side during a video interview after leaving “The Masked Singer.” In the video, Ware explained that he chose a koala costume because his young son’s favorite animal is the koala, and the boy sleeps with a koala toy.

“Dad actually got to be a koala,” Ware said. “He’s going to know that a koala sings. He’s gonna know that the koala dances. So, (I’m) saying goodbye to the big head, but I know I got little man at home and we’ve still got the koala at the house.”

This isn’t the first time Ware has appeared on reality TV, by the way. He competed on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2018, performing with pro partner Lindsay Arnold. Ware had a good run in the ballroom, leaving the ABC reality show tied for seventh place.

Alabama people haven’t often been featured on “The Masked Singer,” but country star Sara Evans, a former Birmingham resident, competed on Season 9 as Mustang, covering “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. Also, some “American Idol” fans are convinced that an “Idol” winner from Alabama appeared on “Masked Singer” earlier this season, singing in a costumed duo known as The Beets. (The identities of The Beets haven’t been revealed yet.)



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Explaining the format changes for Kalen DeBoer's 1st A-Day

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Explaining the format changes for Kalen DeBoer's 1st A-Day


The old and new eras of Alabama football will link together Saturday. While Nick Saban will stop by Denny Chimes to honor last year’s captains — his first time around UA fans at a football event since his Jan. 10 retirement — Kalen DeBoer and the 2024 Tide team will be preparing for its annual A-Day spring game. That won’t be the only change featured in UA’s annual scrimmage this weekend.

Under Saban, the Tide was split into Team Crimson and Team White. Coaches would draft between the first- and second-team options with the winners achieving a steak dinner and the losers earning a can of beans. The steak and beans tradition remains, but the game won’t be as traditional.

Alabama will be split into offense and defense. Points will be allotted at the end of each drive depending on the result. Stats will kept by UA officials and distributed through the media. There will be the Dwight Stephenson Award for Most Valuable Lineman and the Dixie Howell Memorial Award for Most Valuable Player.

DeBoer explained the reasoning behind the changes on Thursday:

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“A couple reasons, No. 1, I like to look at it as practice No. 15. We’ll see a lot of scrimmaging out there, but it’s a chance for us to get better. It’s a chance for us to take a next step. A chance for us to evaluate, as well. And so try to really get down to the bare bones of playing some football. It gives us a chance to really also celebrate what we’re doing and where we’re at and enjoy the moment with the fans. So excited to see a packed stadium there and looking forward to seeing everyone come and support our program.”

Saban’s first A-Day in 2007 famously brought over 90,000 screaming fans into Bryant-Denny Stadium. The anticipation for practice football diminished through the 17-year dynastic run, but there’s potential in a debut. After not being televised a year ago, UA’s scrimmage is one of the only airing on ESPN.

DeBoer has already maximized his first recruiting class and junior day, pulling in multiple blue-chip commitments, and now has to see where his roster stands before the spring portal opens.

Positions to watch on Saturday include offensive tackle — where freshman and Tyler Booker have taken reps — to center and presumed starter James Brockermeyer; Parker Brailsford remains away from the team. It’ll be the first time Jalen Milroe and the Tide’s other quarterbacks publically perform DeBoer’s offense. Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack will counter with his 4-2-5 ‘swarm’ scheme, similar to Saban’s but with different position names.

“I’m laughing because when I talked to the guys about the steak dinner, I referred to it as, what did I say, ‘beenies and weenies,’ a slip of the tongue. Of course we had a good little laugh out there on the field,” DeBoer said. “There’s some traditions that the guys certainly bring up that have been important, that they feel strong about. I’m still learning some of those, things that haven’t maybe come up yet. You’re still learning some of those really neat things that are important to these guys because it’s happened in the program for many years.”

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DeBoer said the team, particularly the offense, is “fullsteam ahead” despite the looming transfer portal window (April 16-30).

Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at NAlvarez@al.com.





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Sources: Alabama starter Griffen to enter portal

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Sources: Alabama starter Griffen to enter portal


Alabama sophomore Rylan Griffen, who started 33 games on the Crimson Tide’s Final Four team this season, plans to enter the transfer portal, sources told ESPN.

Griffen, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, made significant strides during his season in Tuscaloosa. He averaged 11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds, shooting 39.2% from 3-point range.

He was at his best during the middle part of the season, averaging nearly 14 points per game during a 17-game stretch from late December to the end of February. After an inconsistent finish to the regular season, Griffen regained his shooting stroke in the NCAA tournament, making better than 48% of his 3-point attempts.

Griffen went for 19 points and five 3-pointers in Alabama’s Sweet 16 win over top-seeded North Carolina and then had 13 points and eight assists in the regional final against Clemson to help lead the Crimson Tide to the program’s first Final Four.

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A former ESPN 100 prospect in the 2022 high school class, Griffen averaged 5.9 points off the bench as a freshman.



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