Roger Shultz brings humor, love for Turner in hosting golf tournament

Roger Shultz (66) teams up with Matt Hammond (63), Chris Robinette (50), Trent Patterson (65) and Terrill Chatman to open a lane for Kevin Turner (24) in 1990 Crimson Tide matchup with Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.  

Roger Shultz will be bringing his sense of humor with him to the Kevin Turner Golf Tournament.

The former University of Alabama center who went on to become a sports talk radio host, a college administrator and a popular fixture on “The Biggest Loser” has a more subdued role in the Mobile area these days, but it doesn’t mean he can’t throw out a zinger or two.

Shultz remembers teaming up with Turner in 1999 at the Prattville Country Club for the annual golf tournament “and then wondering why they haven’t been able to call me since.” He’ll be the guest host this time, serving as the emcee after Turner’s death in 2016 from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Shultz will be the seventh guest host, following in the footsteps of Gary Hollingsworth (2015), the Turner family (2016), Siran Stacy (2017), Antonio Langham (along with Andrew Zow in 2018), Sherman Williams (2019) and Martin Houston (2020).

Each of those guest hosts brought a love for Turner along with a desire to promote the tournament, but Shultz may be a hard act to follow.

He was a highly recruited offensive guard from Peachtree High in the Atlanta area who was selected to participate in the Georgia-Florida all-star game and was recruited to Alabama by then-coach Ray Perkins.

“Billy Ray was a big-time recruit and was at (nearby) Dunwoody,” Shultz said. “I think it was like, you can come see Billy at 10:30 and the coach would get there at 9:45 and say ‘I’ll just hop over here to Peachtree.’ I kind of think that’s how it happened, they had to kill time before they had to see Billy Ray and they just started liking me.

“I can remember going to Billy Ray’s first game his senior year and Coach Perkins was there. He was in the concession line and I’m behind him. I don’t know if he ever saw me there or not, but maybe I did something impressive in that concession line that he liked.”

Shultz was redshirted that first year under Perkins, the first of three head coaches he would meet at Alabama. In addition to Bill Curry and Gene Stallings, Shultz had to play under four offensive coordinators -- George Henshaw, Rip Scherer, Homer Smith and Mal Moore -- and, by his counting, five offensive line coaches.

“That’s a lot, when you think about it,” he said. “But it was an opportunity for me to meet a bunch of people.”

The transition that allowed him to meet a lot of different people also added to his resiliency as he learned to adjust to the different whims of new coaches.

“The first transition from Coach Perkins to Coach Curry, I really haven’t proven myself,” he said. “I’m just a redshirt freshman on the scout team. They won’t even let me have a real ball, I’m snapping a Nerf ball. I’m on the bottom of the totem pole and now we’re all equal. Coach Curry doesn’t know much about any of us.

”Then you go from that to being a three-year starter and you get a new coach in. You think with time, you get a little break from being so intense, but now Coach Stallings came in and you have to prove yourself to him. You want that new coach to think you’re that guy.”

Schultz’s zest for living often landed him in trouble. Stallings wasn’t nearly as amused as the rest of the world when his senior center proclaimed that “we ought to have to pay property taxes on Neyland Stadium because we own it” after Alabama’s unlikely win over the Volunteers in 1990 gave Shultz a 5-0 record against the Vols.

Nor was Stallings amused a few months earlier when Shultz stayed out late the night before the A-Day game, knowing a fifth-year senior who was an honorable mention All-America selection the year before wasn’t going to play in a spring game.

“Coach put me in for the whole game,” Shultz recalled. “I don’t know if he testing me or what but I failed. I thought I was going to stand on the sidelines and take pictures and sign autographs. I was about to die. But I ended up winning the Dwight Stevenson Award” as the game’s most valuable lineman.

He dabbled in coaching for a while, serving as a graduate assistant on Stallings’ staff in 1991 and 1992, earning a national championship ring in the process, along with stints as an offensive line coach at Sidney Lanier in 1999 and 2000, at Baldwin County in 2010 and Spanish Fort in 2011.

“I’ve always enjoyed coaching,” Shultz said. “I coached at Lanier in 1999 and 2000, I coached at Spanish Fort in 2011 and at Baldwin County in 2010. Back then, I could have gone into pharmaceutical sales and made more money. All the coaches I admired said go do something else. Then I thought about all the coaching changes I went through (at Alabama) and said, ‘Hey, they do move a lot. I don’t want to move, I want to raise a family.’ If I could go back, I’d just go back and do it. Sometimes, I thought too much.”

Instead, he got into the administrative side of athletics, working at Troy University and later at Jacksonville State, learning administrative work that he now uses each December with the Camellia Bowl.

“I’m the team host and in-stadium production,” Shultz said. “Everything that’s put on the video boards and the script for the PA guy, besides live action. I oversaw that at Troy and at Jacksonville State.”

For the past five years, he has been employed at Republic Services, a waste management service and recycling center while watching his son Ivan, an offensive lineman at St. Paul’s Episcopal who earned a scholarship to Troy University. For the previous 25 years, a lot of people in the River Region got to know him through his roles as a radio analyst for Troy University and Huntingdon College and as a sports talk radio host for various outlets throughout the state, including his own Sunday show “In the Trenches” with former Auburn quarterback Stan White.

He gave that up seven years ago but “I still dabble in it and fill in every once in a while,” he said. He walked away from the radio set just as some of the roles he embraced -- such as a Sunday show reliving Alabama and Auburn games from the day before -- were gaining in popularity.

“I had to do it when I had to stir up things,” he said. “When it’s all good, it’s easy to talk about but when it’s bad, it’s really easy to talk about. I mean, you can’t criticize (Nick) Saban. You can, but nobody will believe you. Maybe that’s why I got off the air.”

It’s a more subdued life these days -- although his outspoken personality promises to be a hit with golfers -- for a guy that found a new following after he and former teammate Trent Patterson went on “The Biggest Loser” in 2008, a reality television show that follows contestants as they attempt to lose the most weight. While the show is no longer seen in the United States, some variation of it found its way to nearly 40 foreign countries, making a Shultz an international hit to this day.

“It’s amazing that people still remember the show,” he said. “What interesting is they sold the rights and they’ll show it in Germany or run it in the Philippines and I’ll get Facebook messages from people who were inspired by me being on the show.”

Shultz will be in Prattville on June 14 for the 24th annual Kevin Turner Golf Tournament at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill. Proceeds from the tournament help fund the Coach A Child campaign which provides financial aid to make YMCA services available to all persons regardless of their inability to pay.

A record-number 69 teams have signed up to participate, but there are still spots available to participate in the tournament. Lunch will be provided at 11 a.m., prior to the 1 p.m. shotgun start. To sign your team up, contact Keith Cantrell at (334) 358-9622 or e-mail him at kcantrell@prattvilleymca.org