The excitement kicked off with our gymnastics team beating Florida on Friday night in a down-to-the-wire contest that ultimately required our two seniors, Diandra Milliner and Kim Jacob, each scoring 9.85 in the final event of the evening to bring home the victory.
Jay Seawell has not only rekindled the proud tradition of the Alabama men's golf program, he has entrenched the Crimson Tide in the forefront of the nation's elite teams and secured the program's first national championship.
Seawell guided Alabama to the sport's pinnacle in 2013 and the 12th year head coach is charged with sustaining one of the country's top programs. The golf team's success under Seawell has energized the Tide's alumni base and created an excitement for Alabama golf not seen in recent memory.
Named the University of Alabama's head men's golf coach on July 26, 2002, Seawell's teams have captured three Southeastern Conference championships. He has led the Tide to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and seven NCAA Championships berths - all in the past nine years. His 2012 team reached the NCAA Finals, falling by one shot to Texas. The Crimson Tide then used that experience to fuel a return trip to the NCAA Finals in 2013 and the program's first NCAA National Championship title.
Seawell consistently has been producing headline-worthy student-athletes, on the course and in the classroom, while his golfers also are among the most active in the Tuscaloosa community, volunteering their time at schools and helping host athletic-department sponsored events for local children.
In the classroom, the men's golf team has put 59 players on the SEC Academic Honor Roll in the past 11 years while eight players (13 honors) have been named to the Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar Team. Joseph Sykora was a three-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American and was voted by the league golf coaches as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year an SEC-record three times. In 2008, Sykora received the SEC's H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award (all sports, all males in the league) and Alabama's Bryant Award, as the top male student-athlete from any sport. Cory Whitsett received the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Elite 89 Award, presented annually to the golfer at the NCAA Championships with the highest GPA. He also was named a 2013 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
On the golf course, Seawell has coached 24 All-Americans during his career, with four in 2011-12 (Justin Thomas, Whitsett, Bobby Wyatt and Hunter Hamrick) and five in 2012-13 (Whitsett, Wyatt, Thomas, Trey Mullinax and Scott Strohmeyer). His golfers at Alabama have been nominated for the sport's highest national awards, including the Ben Hogan Award, the Jack Nicklaus Award, the Fred Haskins Award, the Phil Mickelson Award and the Byron Nelson Award. Thomas received the Nicklaus, Haskins and Mickelson awards in 2012. Seawell has coached Alabama to 33 team tournament championships, with 25 individual medalists in 11 years in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama's 2013 NCAA Championship title concluded an historic season at the Capstone that saw the Crimson Tide win a school-record eight times in 12 events and post a 154-15-3 (.904) cumulative record. Alabama won seven of eight events that spring, including the final six events.
The Crimson Tide finished tied for third in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships before rolling through three rounds of match play with victories over New Mexico (4-1), Georgia Tech (3-0-2) and Illinois (4-1) in the finals. Alabama also won the school's fourth SEC Championship title, second straight and third under the direction of Seawell, with a two-shot win at the Sea Island Golf Club. The Tide then went on to win the program's second straight NCAA Regional Championship title with a victory in Baton Rouge.
The 2012-13 Crimson Tide team was led by a trio of first team All-Americans: Whitsett, Wyatt and Thomas. The Tide boasted five All-Americans in all, with Trey Mullinax (PING) and Scott Strohmeyer (Golfweek) both receiving honorable mention All-America honors. Whitsett was the SEC Player of the Year and one of the league's Scholar-Athletes of the Year while winning two times and being selected to the All-Nicklaus team. Thomas, a sophomore in 2012-13, also won twice to set Alabama's career record for victories with six. Whitsett, Thomas and Wyatt all were selected for the United States 2013 Walker Cup team.
Seawell was named the 2013 SEC Coach of the Year for the second time in as many years and third overall while also being named a finalist for the 2013 Dave Williams Award (national coach of the year).
The 2011-12 Alabama team captured the SEC Championship, NCAA Athens Regional and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships. The Tide won the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships at Riviera Country Club with a 7-over 859. Alabama then dispatched of Kent State (3-1-1) in the quarterfinals of match play and California (3-2) in the semifinals. The Crimson Tide's bid for the national championship fell one match short, as the Tide were edged by Texas (3-2) in the NCAA Finals.
Alabama won five of the final seven team events heading into the 2012 NCAA Championships with victories at the Puerto Rico Classic, the Schenkel Invitational, the Linger Longer Invitational, the SEC Championship and the NCAA Athens Regional. The 2011-12 Tide set school records for team season scoring average at 284.56 (.78 vs. par), low round vs. par at 20-under 268, and low 54 holes vs. par at 47-under 817. Seawell was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the second time and was a finalist for the 2012 Dave Williams Award (national coach of the year).
Seawell also coached impact freshman Thomas to unseen heights in 2011-12. The rookie from Goshen, Ky., won a school-record four times, including medalist honors at the SEC Championship. For his efforts, Thomas was named the SEC Player and Freshman of the Year and was the first Tide player to be selected as the national player of the year.
Whitsett and Wyatt turned in successful sophomore campaigns in 2011-12. Whitsett won twice, capturing the 2011 Western Refining All-America Classic and the 2012 Linger Longer Invitational. He finished with a 71.38 scoring average and earned second team All-America and first team All-SEC accolades. Wyatt averaged 71.70 strokes per round and was a second team All-American and first team All-SEC choice, after recording seven top-five finishes. Hamrick wrapped up his decorated Alabama career by earning 2012 honorable mention All-America and second team All-SEC honors.
Alabama's 2010-11 team captured five tournament titles and finished outside of the top four only once in stroke play. The Tide posted a 137-24-0 record in head-to-head meetings and had four players ranked in the top 65 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index at the end of the season. Alabama posted a runner-up finish at the SEC Championship and qualified for the NCAA Championship with a third-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Indiana Regional.
Bud Cauley rewrote the Alabama record book in 2010-11 with a 70.75 scoring average over 36 rounds. He finished 15 shots under par and was named a first team All-American by both PING and Golfweek while also being selected to the All-Nicklaus team. Whitsett garnered 2011 All-America honors under Seawell's tutelage, being named to the second team by both PING and Golfweek while garnering first team All-SEC and SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Wyatt was a second team All-SEC choice.
Returning only two lettermen for the 2009-10 season, Seawell was presented one of his biggest challenges. The veteran coach responded with a squad that captured its fourth straight Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate title and boasted four medalists throughout the season.
Hamrick captured medalist honors at the 2009 JPNI and the Western Refining All-America Classic while tying for first the following spring at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational, on his way to honorable mention All-America honors. Cauley set a then-school record for scoring average at 71.32 while Hamrick finished second on the team at 72.88. Cauley won the Isleworth Collegiate and the Linger Longer Invitational while garnering 2010 first team All-American honors.
The 2008-09 team added a program first to Seawell's resume with a victory at the NCAA Northeast Regional. It was the first regional title for the Crimson Tide's men's golf team and the club's second win of the season. That team finished with two tournament titles, at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and the NCAA Northeast Regional. Seawell's five-man team almost always included at least three freshmen and finished with a 292.06 average score per round.
Freshman sensation Cauley received 2009 first team All-America honors from Golfweek and second team honors from PING, along with first team All-SEC and SEC Freshman of the Year. Cauley won medalist honors at the United State Collegiate Championship while Hamrick was the medalist at the NCAA Northeast Regional. Cauley also was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award (national amateur of the year) and selected to play for the American squad at the 2009 Walker Cup and the 2009 Palmer Cup.
Alabama's 2007-08 team finished the season ranked No. 3 in the final Golf World/NIKE coaches poll and captured its first SEC golf championship in 29 years. Seawell's success caught the attention and respect of his coaching peers, who voted him the 2008 SEC Coach of the Year. His 2008 Tide team co-led the nation in team tournament championships with six wins and also produced four medalists. The team set the school's 54-hole record with the 810 it shot to win the 2007 Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. In 2007-08, the golf team won both of the Alabama athletic department's biggest awards: the men's team with the highest GPA and the men's community service award.
Seawell's program made Alabama history in 2006-07, catapulting to the nation's No. 1 ranking in all three collegiate polls in September of 2006 and holding the top spot in the coaches poll from September through early February of 2007. The team won four tournaments and set school scoring records en route to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championship, after a runner-up showing at the SEC Championship.
Seawell's teams from 2007-09 finished sixth, 13th and 15th, respectively, at the NCAA Championships while the 2008 team captured the school's first Southeastern Conference Championship title since 1979.
After arriving at the Capstone for the 2002-03 season, Seawell quickly established a formula for success. His first Crimson Tide team finished sixth at the SEC Championship, after a ninth-place showing the previous year. Alabama also qualified for the NCAA East Regional, only the second appearance in a six-year span for the Tide.
The 2003-04 season helped build the foundation for the coming years at Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished 11th at the SEC Championship but earlier captured its first tournament team title with a win at the Conrad Rehling Invitational, proving that the program was building for the future.
That future came quickly, as the Crimson Tide qualified for not only the NCAA Regional in 2005 but went on to finish 28th at the NCAA Championships. It was Alabama's first NCAA Championship appearance since the 1996 season. The Tide posted a sixth-place finish at the NCAA East Regional to earn their spot in the championship field
The Crimson Tide again qualified for NCAA regional play in 2006, finishing 14th at the NCAA West Regional. Alabama also recorded a third-place finish at the SEC Championship, its best at that time since a third-place showing in 1990.
Seawell began his coaching career at Anderson (S.C.) College, where he coached from 1991-96 and won five consecutive Region 10 championships. His work earned him five regional coach of the year awards. After briefly leaving Anderson for another career pursuit, Seawell returned to coach Anderson again in 1997-98.
Hired by Augusta (Ga.) State as its head coach prior to the start of 1998-99 season. Seawell led those teams to four straight NCAA Regional appearances and three trips to the NCAA Championship. Seawell's 2001 team finished seventh at the NCAAs before turning in the best finish in school history the following year with a fifth-place showing. He coached three All-Americans during his tenure at Augusta State, including two-time All-American Jamie Elson along with All-American and eventual Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson.
Seawell is a 1988 graduate of the University of South Carolina, with a bachelor's degree is in hotel and restaurant management. He lettered on the Gamecocks golf team and served as the president of the University's Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Seawell and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Brooke, Jackson and Lauren.
THE JAY SEAWELL FILE
Hired: July 26, 2002
Education: University of South Carolina (1988)
Head Coach, Anderson College (1991-96 & 1997-98)
Heach Coach, Augusta State (1998-2002)
Head Coach, Alabama (2002-present)
NCAA Postseasons (14):
Alabama: 2003, 2005 (28th), 2006, 2007 (6th), 2008 (13th), 2009 (15th), 2010, 2011 (14th), 2012 (2nd), 2013 (1st)
Augusta State: 1999, 2000, 2001 (7th), 2002 (5th)