Overshadowing Tony Brown’s outstanding season in track and field for Alabama this spring is the question of his football eligibility going forward. Brown continued his outstanding work for the Crimson Tide track team Friday when he qualified for Friday’s final in the men’s 110-meter hurdles during day one of the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., Wednesday.
Brown, an upcoming junior who is on scholarship for Coach Nick Saban’s Alabama football team, was suspended by Saban during preparation for the Cotton Bowl semifinal College Football Playoff game against Michigan State and did not play in that game or the title game win over Clemson. He had been sent home to Beaumont, Texas.
Later Saban said that Brown had an NCAA issue, which was not disclosed, which meant he was still suspended, but he did take part in spring football practice.
Brown, who had eight tackles in play on special teams last fall, also saw limited action at cornerback last season. He was ranked fourth in the nation in the Scout 300, the top player in Texas, and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation coming out of high school. In track, he had the nation’s top times in both the 60 hurdles (7.76) and the 110 hurdles (13.38) and had a wind-aided best time of 10.37 at 100 meters.
The unanswered question could be: If Brown has an NCAA issue, how can he participate in track for Alabama, but not football? Or the question may be something else, perhaps: Is Brown no longer facing an NCAA issue and is thus now eligible for football in the fall?
On Wednesday in Oregon, Brown rolled to a time of 13.71, finishing third in his heat and earning the final qualifying spot for the Friday night’s final round in the 110-meter hurdles. It was the second-fastest time of Brown’s career, trailing the 13.52 he turned in the NCAA East Regional final in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 28.
Brown could join former Alabama track stars Ron Bramlett (2001, 2002) and Keith Talley (1986) as the only national champions in the event with a victory Friday night. In all, Tide 110-meter hurdlers have earned All-America honors five times in school history – Bramlett three times (2000-01-02) and Talley twice (1985-86).
Also from the NCAA Championship meet:
Crimson Tide hammer thrower Elias Hakansson finished 12th in the men’s hammer throw final. Hakansson began the day for Alabama with a 220-2 (67.11m) effort in the hammer throw, good for 12th place in his third career appearance in the NCAA Championships. The junior from Halmstad, Sweden earned All-America honors as a freshman at the 2013 championships.
Competing in Alabama’s last final of the day, Anitbahs Kosgei turned in his second-fastest time of the season in the 10,000 meters (29:42.89) to finish 18th in the event.
Senior Ahmed Ali finished 15th in the semifinals of the men’s 200 meters with a time of 20.84, while fellow senior Tadashi Pinder finished 19th in the 100 meters with a 10.42. In the men’s shot put final, junior Kyle Felpel (60-8.75) and freshman Kord Ferguson (59-6.25) finished 21st and 24th.
The Alabama women will be on the track on Thursday with junior Quanesha Burks looking to defend her NCAA title in the long jump. Also in action will be Alex Gholston in the 400 meters, Haley Teel in the shot put, Vanessa Clerveaux in the 100-meter hurdles and the Tide 4x400 meter relay team.