Tag Archives: UAB Blazers

Pondering and Power Rating the SEC

It took me a few days to muster up my enthusiasm for college football after the brutal, inexcusable loss in Baton Rouge, and now I am actually now looking forward to the games this weekend. With that, here are my power ratings on the SEC.

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Texas A&M
  4. LSU
  5. Auburn
  6. Kentucky
  7. South Carolina
  8. Florida
  9. Miss State
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Arkansas
  12. Tennessee
  13. Vanderbilt
  14. Missouri

Auburn has a better football team than LSU, but LSU deserves to be rated ahead of AU by virtue of its win on Saturday. That could right itself by season’s end. The Bayou Bengals could have a big letdown this coming Saturday at Ole Miss, and the Rebels had to gain some confidence by whipping Vandy. The bottom 4 teams are utterly miserable, at this point, but Auburn better watch out for Arkansas. The Tigers are beat up and have to be a bit demoralized after the loss to LSU. We’ll see what they’re made of Saturday.

Bama continues to dominate, but Georgia is for real and both teams could be undefeated entering the SEC Championship game. The Bulldogs’ schedule certainly is not daunting although there are some potential pitfalls on there, especially Auburn at Auburn and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Texas A&M is a sleeper and has an opportunity to make some noise before it’s all said and done. Watch out for the Aggies.

“Butch Jones is probably coaching his last game as head man of the Vols.”

Kentucky? If it can get by Mississippi State, in Starkville, that could be a springboard to a very good season. The Wildcats could even make a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Conversely, if State beats Kentucky its record would be 5-2 and the Bulldogs might be poised for a run in its last 5 games. Games with Texas A&M and Alabama would loom large. The fact-of-the-matter is, State will not beat Alabama and it is doubtful to come home with a win in College Station. But win the others and that would put them at an impressive 8-4.

Cock-a-doodle-do! South Carolina is also sporting a 5-2 record and don’t forget that one of those wins came against a very good North Carolina State team. Georgia, Florida and Clemson are huge obstacles to a sterling season in Columbia.

Over in the other Columbia, the Missouri Tigers are truly stinking the woods up with a 1-5 record at its halfway point in 2017. There are a few potential wins left on the Tigers’ slate, most notably this Saturday versus Idaho and the following weekend at UConn. But Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas are winnable games for Mizzou.

Florida is a mediocre 4-3 and facing an almost certain loss to Georgia in that heated rivalry. Missouri, South Carolina, UAB, and Florida State conclude the Gators schedule and those games are all possible wins or losses. Don’t laugh at the possibility of a UAB victory in The Swamp. Bill Clark has the Blazers playing remarkably good football, especially when one considers that this team hadn’t played a game in two years before the 2017 campaign began.

We haven’t even mentioned Tennessee except by name. I don’t know if ‘dumpster fire’ is even an adequate description for what is taking place up on Rocky Top. But, historically, November has been the month when the Vols really tend to make hay. But Alabama might beat them mercilessly on this Third Saturday in October and that could complete the demoralization process in Knoxville. Butch Jones is probably coaching his last game as head man of the Vols.

After a 3-0 start the Vanderbilt Commodores have lost 4 straight games and are headed south with a bullet. The schedule is doable (South Carolina, Western Kentucky, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee) but it will have to pick up the pace to make a bowl game.

That’s my take on the Southeastern Conference here and today. A lot of football remains to be played and who knows what portends as we look down the stretch of the 2017 college football season. Good luck to you and your favorite teams!

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Image via Flickr/getmahesh

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Week 1 – September 4, 2017

Welcome back to college football, the weekend was glorious, wasn’t it? We’re left with just Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech on the Week 1 schedule, so I think it’s a good time to play the Good, the Bad and the Ugly game with Week 1. Short of Tennessee losing and Butch Jones being left on a tarmac at Atlanta’s airport, nothing can top what we’re about to talk about.

The Good

Easily the best story in college football this week is UAB. After a three-year hiatus and my friends in Tuscaloosa doing everything in their power to prevent football in Birmingham, the Blazers have returned and were triumphant over Alabama A&M. On their first drive, UAB went 76 yards in fourteen plays and converted a touchdown on fourth down. Solid start.

UAB’s football schedule is mostly “easy,” but a solid showing against Florida on Sat Nov 18 could go a long way in bringing more of the right kind of attention to the program in 2017 and beyond.

Also, nice to see a record crowd for UAB in its return, but the long-term success of the program depends on constant support from fans and the community.

The Bad

This wasn’t a great opening weekend for three of the major football teams in Texas. Texas A&M was up on UCLA last night and forced the Bruins to score 34 points without a turnover is nothing short of amazing. Honestly, I turned the game off and switched to NASCAR then Netflix. If we started the evening with Jim Mora at the top of the coaching hot seat, he was quickly replaced by Kevin Sumlin.

Then there’s Tom Herman’s debut at Texas. For the record, I didn’t think Herman was ready for a job like Texas when he was hired and I’m not saying that Saturday’s loss to Maryland cemented that thought to me, because one game does not make a coach. Herman will have his team playing better, and as Chase will tell you this week there’s a lot that likely needs to happen behind the scenes for the Longhorns to get better. Turning non-Power 5 Houston around is a lot easier than turning Big 12 Texas around. That said, in the earlier three meetings between Maryland and Texas, Maryland had never scored; on Saturday they scored 51.

Last, we must talk about Baylor. I think we knew at some point all the shenanigans related to the off-field sexual assault was going to catch up to them in a big way. Coaching changes, players leaving or refusing to play there, negative press, and the constant stories hurt. Did I ever think it would show itself against FCS Lamar in Waco? absolutely not. Do I think this is absolute rock bottom for Baylor? Not even close.

The Ugly

99-0 was the score between St. John’s University and St. Scholastica (yes, she is real because I’m Catholic and I also checked Wikipedia.) in beautiful Collegeville, Minnesota. Per SB Nation, St. John’s used – and get ready for this one – almost 180 players in this game and wanted to play the fourth quarter with a running clock, but the men of Benedictine from Scholastica said, “No, thanks.”

Amazing.

And as a bonus: The Weird

Lane Kiffin. Down by 23 as his FAU Owls are facing the Midshipmen of Navy, the game is already in its third lightening delay and it is nearly 1am and Kiffin refuses to let the game go. He forces both teams to come back out, btw – Navy had already eaten their post-game meal, only to lose the game 42-19.

We get it, Lane – it’s still all about you.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Wikipedia

NCAA Tournament Seeds of Doubt

The science of populating the NCAA Tournament bracket is unquestionably inexact. While most of the bubble griping which goes on tends to be much ado about nothing; there are usually some legitimate cases of inaccurate seeding of the teams which make the field. There is also a lot of ranting about a handful of teams which may or may not have deserved to make the field.

What I always find fascinating is the immediate overreaction to seed placement, or inclusion in the field, based on the results of the first weekend. The action this past weekend certainly stoked the fires of those discussions. However, I’d argue that regardless of whether a team should’ve been higher, lower, or left out of the field; winning or losing in the first couple rounds doesn’t validate a team’s Tournament status.

The most prevalent argument tends to be the “Obviously (Insert School Name) didn’t deserve a (Insert Number) seed”. Villanova was the most noticeable victim of this dubious honor. The Wildcats were given the top seed in the East Region, and subsequently amplified the voice of the naysayers by losing to NC State in the round of 32.

Despite the loss to a Wolfpack squad which simply wasn’t a great physical match-up for them, Villanova more than earned the #1 seed they were given. Although they didn’t have any real headlining wins early in the season, the Wildcats did up end a tournament team in VCU. They also beat two Big 10 teams in Michigan and Illinois, along with Syracuse out of the ACC. Certainly Jay Wright couldn’t anticipate that all three of those teams would be average coming into the year.

The Wildcats also finished the regular season on a 15 game winning streak, winning the Big East regular season going away; and then completing the sweep by taking the Conference Tournament crown. Undoubtedly one could lobby for Arizona, or perhaps Virginia over them, but Villanova was worthy of the #1 seed they achieved.

While Villanova fell on the proverbial “Over Seeded” sword, there were a couple of glaring examples of “Under Seeded” teams. These squads typically garner an outpouring of sympathy and outrage from the College Basketball public, as they are perceived to deserve a much higher seed. Wichita State and Dayton filled this role nicely.

Let’s start with Wichita State. The Shockers somehow fell to a #7 seed in the Midwest Region. As a champion of the mid-major, and more specifically, representatives from the under-appreciated Missouri Valley Conference; I was amongst the loudest voices crying foul on their assignment.

While most will say that performance in previous seasons should have no bearing, I’m of a differing opinion. That’s not to say that results from last year should allow a team to be handed an invite. However, based on their Final Four appearance in 2013, and 34-0 start last year, which was accompanied by a #1 Seed, the Wheat Shockers have earned some street cred.

Being under seeded can have some interesting consequences. Either said recipient runs into a stronger opponent earlier than they should, or they serve as a much more difficult opponent than a higher seed should have to face in the early rounds. Wichita proved to be the latter. Beating Indiana was expected, and to some, it came as no surprise that they were able to oust #2 Kansas in the round of 32.

The other prime example of a team which deserved a significantly better seed is Dayton. Heading into Selection Sunday, the Flyers by all accounts were a safe bet to join the party. On the day of reckoning they ended up as the last team in, drawing the #11 seed in the East Region, coupled with a play-in game. In similar fashion to Wichita, the slight by the committee proved to be detrimental to their opponents.

The Flyers were awarded a game on their home floor, and took advantage as such. Again, that’s not to say they wouldn’t have won a couple of games regardless; but Dayton was able to dispatch Boise State and Providence, before battling Oklahoma to the bitter end. Ultimately, both Wichita State and Dayton won in spite of the fact they weren’t given the respect they were due.

Since Dayton received a snub from the committee, someone else had to be awarded. Now, there were a few culprits who could be named. Indiana, Texas, and UCLA all should have been left out of the field of 68 in my estimation. While I champion the cause of the deserving mid-major, I am staunchly against rewarding the mediocre high-major. All three of these teams fit the description.

The big boys from the power five conferences have chance after chance all season to get “good” wins. None of these teams did that. As expected, the Hoosiers and Longhorns went out with a whimper. On the other hand, UCLA is still hanging around, so of course the “UCLA was deserving” crowd are shouting from the rooftops.

The Bruins trip to the Sweet 16 has been a perfect storm of good fortune. After SMU coughed up a multiple possession lead in the waning moments, UCLA was catapulted into the next round with a huge assist from the infamous goal tending call. One of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in NCAA Tournament history. Perhaps they would’ve found a way to win without the help, but we’ll never know.

Earlier that day, the first stroke of luck went the Bruins way. When the UAB Blazers upset the Iowa State Cyclones, it removed a large obstacle from their path. Taking nothing away from the Blazers victory, but one upset was all they had in them. It showed when they were overwhelmed by UCLA, allowing the Bruins to make another appearance in the Sweet 16.

None of the success UCLA has experienced to this point expunges their pre-tournament rap sheet. Yes, the Bruins did manage to finish above .500 in a very average PAC 12 Conference. However, finding a good win on their schedule is near impossible. The win over Utah in late January has gained some legs now that the Utes have made the Sweet 16; and they did beat those same UAB Blazers way back in November.

Otherwise, they got blasted by every legitimate team they faced, and mustered seven points in the first half against Kentucky in December, on a neutral floor. Based on the body of work UCLA put together throughout the regular season, there had to be at least one candidate more deserving of a bid.

Part of what makes the NCAA Tournament so great is the emotion it stirs amongst all of those watching. Naturally, in the “what have you done for me lately” culture of sports, it’s easy to assume that a team’s recent performance is their true identity. However, whether a team deserves to move up a seed, down a seed, or receive no seed at all, should be determined by what they did to get there; not justified by their subsequent Tournament performance.

Best and Worst: Second Round of NCAA Tournament

Saturday Best: One of the things that college basketball fans love about the tournament is the unexpected. I love it, you love it, and if you say you don’t love it, well, you are just full of malarkey. North Carolina State provided the unexpected on Saturday. They showed what some determination and a belief in one’s self can do for a team. The Wolfpack played great, hardnosed ball, and did what they had to do to beat Villanova 71-68. Once that final horn went off the Wolfpack team stormed the court and for a brief moment it reminded me of a Wolfpack team in 1983. The Wolfpack guards Cat Barber and Desmond Lee shared a long hug after the game and Barber pounded his chest and said “All heart!” That kind of emotion by Barber tells you everything about what these tournament games mean.

With that being said, the emotion that teams, coaches, and fans show is a lot of people see. However, the bands show the emotion just as much. The young woman who was playing her piccolo as they played at the conclusion of the game puts an exclamation mark on March Madness emotion. I have it down as a best of the weekend because of what her team means to her, the fans, the rest of the band, and the coaches. People may joke about it, but it’s her school, and she was probably not the only one crying about the loss. The players probably were in the locker room and nobody will make fun of those guys.

The other part of the weekend that has been nice has been the play of the teams from the Pac-12. Going into the tournament, the Pac-12, in my opinion should have only got three teams in, with UCLA on the outside looking in. Arizona has shown that they belong for certain with their play in the first couple of rounds, Utah has raised some eyebrows with their play, and the yellow highlighters from Oregon have also moved on into the next round. UCLA has moved onto the round of 16 with their wins over SMU and UAB. I am still not convinced they should have got in, but the tourney is about match-ups and the Bruins have got two match-ups that worked for them. Nevermind the controversial call against SMU, the way they stacked up against the Mustangs and the Blazers were favorable towards them. To see the Pac-12 at 7-1 in tournament so far, with an Oregon loss to number one seed Wisconsin the only blemish, the Pac-12 is surpassing everybody’s expectations. In honesty, the Pac-12 was down as conference this year, but the Pac-12 teams that are in the tournament have shown a bit of resiliency so far which may bode well for the future of the conference in basketball.

Worst: The micromanaging by college coaches. The NCAA tournament is great fun to watch, but watching games where the halftime score are in the teens or twenties, and even low thirties is brutal to watch. Coaches want to control everything during the game and I get that, but at some point you have to let these players just “play”. There are so players that good/great college players, but they get to the NBA and are a fish out of water. I almost look at the coaches as people who are stifling the progress of these college players. Let these players do what they do best and that is get up and down the court like basketball players want to do. I know the micromanaging is not coming to an end anytime soon, but I, and many other fans would appreciate a little more “flow” with the college game.

Sunday: One of the best things from Sunday’s action was the Michigan State Spartans. It’s Coach Izzo’s time of year to remind some people that he is one of the best college coaches in the business. Teams take on the personality of their coaches and that is so apparent with the Spartans. They play tough, gritty defense and play disciplined offense with a ton of multiple offensive sets. Izzo is a tough, gritty, and in your face type of coach, so the comparison with his team is quite valid. The Spartans took the court with a determined mind frame and wanting to play physical with Virginia. In the own right, the Cavaliers, play a tough, deliberate type of offense and defense, plus they don’t mind being physical. The Spartans got out of the gate quick and in the end, came out with a tough, physical victory over the number two seed in their East region.

How about those Shockers from Wichita State? They have been the forgotten school in Kansas for years and now…not so much. With a state that already boasts Kansas and Kansas State, Wichita State is the odd man out. They were until Sunday afternoon in Omaha. For years the Shockers tried to get games with Kansas to avail. Kansas coaches always put out the thought that having games in bigger cities where they could show the program was a better deal for them instead of playing the Shockers. Now, there may be thought of making this a yearly rivalry game. The Shockers took down the RockChalk Jayhawks in a huge shooting barrage and in my opinion, better athleticism. The Shocker fans, coaches, and players enjoyed every minute of it as they should have. What the Jayhawks need to worry about now is how many kids want to go play in Wichita than in Lawrence. The Shockers made a statement and the rest of the state of Kansas took notice. I know the rest of the college basketball world took notice.

Worst: Oregon losing. It ended the run of the Pac-12 being perfect in the tournament. They put up a valiant fight against the number one seed in the West, Wisconsin. Besides losing the game and the hurt that comes with that, once the dust settles and the players can look back on the season, they will see how successful they were in 2014-2015. Oregon was picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12 and nowhere near the NCAA tournament. Now, the Ducks have things to work for next season and build upon the success of surprising season.

In the end, the first week of March Madness was one to remember. It had everything people come to expect with the tournament. There were lower seeds beating higher seeds, drama in the final minutes, seconds of games, and most of all, people talking about college basketball. The second week of the tournament should be just as good. The stakes get raised, the tension mounts even more, and getting closer to the championship is in the team’s sites. All sorts of questions remain. Will Kentucky lose? Who will continue to surprise? Who has the best shot at getting to the title game? It’s going to entertaining to watch for sure, let’s just hope the coming weeks live up to what the first week provided for us.

Leave a comment below or e-mail Mike at [email protected].

Death of a Football Program – UAB Calls it Quits

Board-of-TrusteesUAB football is no more. For the first time in almost twenty years a FBS / Division I football program called it quits. On the surface, the decision made sense. UAB football was running in the red and had been running in the red for a long time. Attendance at UAB football games was abysmal. UAB didn’t even sport its own stadium. The UAB campus, located in the middle of downtown Birmingham, used Legion Field as its football stadium. Legion Field was the historic home of the Iron Bowl in its heyday but with the transition of the Iron Bowl to a home and home series and Birmingham’s horrendous money woes, the lack of repairs to its failing infrastructure was a symbol for Birmingham’s own failings as a city.

Football at UAB was always a hard sell. Alabama, the state, has been about Alabama and Auburn football since both schools took to fields in leather helmets. UAB’s success as a University has been with its graduate medical programs. Many of the students who attend UAB are not native to the state or even the country. College football of any kind would have had a hard time getting traction at UAB. The only chance UAB had was to have success on the field. Success would be the answer to forging its own identity, igniting its small fan base, and getting the local community around it. Unfortunately, for UAB, success never really came. In a state that is brimming with football talent, UAB had a hard time getting great players to commit to UAB. It really should come as no surprise that UAB football was killed.

Scratching below the surface, there are other factors. As mentioned in my previous article the Board of Trustees for UAB are the same Board of Trustees for the University of Alabama. This factor alone has provided the UAB fan base with ammunition that the Board of Trustees do not support UAB athletics as UAB’s success could come at the expense of the University of Alabama. One of those Board members is Paul Bryant Jr., son of legendary Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

No one holds any illusion that Bryant Jr. is loyal to UAB football but it would seem a stretch to say that his allegiance to the University of Alabama football program would make him want to deliberately shut down UAB’s athletic department. If you ask a UAB alumnus why Bryant would do this, they refer to “The Grudge.”

In terms of UAB athletics “The Grudge” is not a remake of a Japanese horror film but it is a supposed grudge that Bryant Jr. held against former UAB basketball coach Gene Bartow. Bartow, who was the UCLA coach that followed John Wooden is UAB’s version of Bryant Sr. Bartow put UAB basketball on the map and generated the biggest success that UAB has had in athletics. His success wasn’t an issue but his opinions were. In 1991, Bartow penned a letter to the NCAA reporting the Alabama basketball team for infractions. In the letter he wrote:

I have had four ex-Alabama players. In each case, they have described rules violations (involving) them and other players there. Not once did an NCAA person investigate them to ask any questions about what went on at Alabama. . .

Bartow went on to accuse football coaches at Alabama of widespread cheating and alleged that they were trained in their ways of cheating by Bryant Sr. Bartow’s letter, penned in 1991, was made public in 1993, the year after Alabama had won their first, post-Bryant national championship under former Bryant assistant, Gene Stallings. According to UAB conspiracy theorists, Bryant Jr.’s grudge against Bartow and extended to UAB, led to a deliberate, general mismanagement of the football program. The theory being that UAB’s lack of success was orchestrated by Bryant and various members of the Board of Trustees under Bryant’s direction.

The theory itself seems a little farfetched. Bartow retired from coaching at UAB in 1996 and in 1997, the UAB Basketball facility was named in his honor. Also in 1996, UAB made the transition to Division I-A, (FBS). If the Board of Trustees were set in demolishing UAB athletics and Gene Bartow, blocking the move to Division I and not approving the basketball facility name change would have been more obvious decisions.

Regardless of whether there was a clandestine plan or not, it is obvious that UAB, in terms of its decisions in football, clearly mismanaged its resources. UAB is not on the chopping block from a foregone destiny that could not have been changed but because of bad decisions through the various entities with the ability to make those decisions. UAB has always had only one foot in the pool in terms of football. With the exception of the last hire, mediocre coaching hires, a general unwillingness to put money into facilities, and no desire to try and incorporate the city of Birmingham to get behind UAB football has led UAB to a place where nixing the football program made sense. Had those same decision makers been less incompetent or less corrupt, depending on your view, UAB could be having the same success as programs like TCU, Baylor and UCF. In short, similar programs with the same perceived disadvantages as UAB. Instead of being the defending conference champion or being on the threshold of making the four team playoff, UAB is making its final walk to the executioner.

Sadly, the death of UAB may be the beginning and not the end of the nightmare for fans of UAB athletics. Rumors are again swirling that the ultimate goal is to shift UAB out of an undergraduate program and move it to a graduate only school. If those rumors are true then all UAB athletics will eventually be shut down. It is even possible that UAB will follow the model as set by Auburn University at Montgomery, (AUM), in which the colors and athletics are actually Auburn University’s and not separate. If so, then it is not just football that is at risk but the very identity of UAB as the green and gold Blazers. Only time will tell if UAB can justify this decision. It’s timing, when the football program had finally found success and had become bowl eligible for the only the second time in its Division I-A / FBS team, couldn’t have been worse.

UAB Considers Nixing Football

Board-of-TrusteesRumors swirled around Birmingham this week that the University of Alabama at Birmingham was considering bringing an end to its football program. UAB has been a staple in Conference USA since making the jump to Division 1-A, (FBS) in 1996. Two contributing factors giving life to those rumors were that current coach, Bill Clark, was only signed to a three year contract to end in 2016 and that UAB has scheduled no out of conference games past 2016. As the rumors gathered steam, UAB President Ray Watts confirmed that the entire UAB athletic department was undergoing a comprehensive study regarding the future of athletics at UAB and football was included in that study. In short, the rumors are true; UAB football is on trial and may be non-existent come 2017.

UAB fans are the state of Alabama’s version of Roswell conspiracy theorists. One doesn’t have to talk to a UAB grad for very long before they will expound on theories revolving around the Board of Trustees and the son of a famous coach who bears his name. If you are unfamiliar with the politics of football in the state of Alabama, let me give you a crash course.

The University of Alabama and Auburn University each have a Board of Trustees. The Governor appoints that Board and he sits as a member on each board. Many a story has been told about Auburn’s Board of Trustees that feature prominent members like Bobby Lowder, Auburn’s biggest contributor and Jimmy Rane, (The Yella Wood spokesman). Terry Bowden painted a picture of Lowder having almost total control of Auburn athletics and claims it was Lowder telling Bowden that he was going to be fired at the end of the season which prompted Bowden to resign mid-season. It was Lowder’s plane that flew Auburn’s athletic director up to Louisville to attempt to hire Bobby Petrino in a scandal later known as Jet-Gate.

The University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees has lacked some of the flair of Auburn’s but a common belief is that Alabama’s Board has its own version of Bobby Lowder with its best known member Paul Bryant, Jr. Bryant is the son of the legendary coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant. Bryant is perceived as the face of the Alabama Board of Trustees. Whether true or not, it is Bryant that is seen as the man behind the board’s major decisions.

Both Alabama’s and Auburn’s respective Boards of Trustees have had their fair share of mud thrown at them over the years but no one ever argues that the Boards aren’t loyal to their schools. One would think that UAB would have its own Board of Trustees that is fiercely loyal to UAB. However, UAB is a part of the University of Alabama system. Therefore its Board is the same board as the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees. When it comes to football at UAB, the decisions regarding football are directly or indirectly made by the Governor and members whose football loyalty is aligned, not with UAB, but with its western neighbor, the University of Alabama. When one considers the situation regarding the Board of Trustees, it becomes easy to understand why fans of UAB think there is a conspiracy to keep UAB down.

It isn’t just having a Board of Trustees loyal to Alabama football alone that creates this theory that UAB football is being held down, ask a UAB fan and they will point to a history of questionable decisions by the Board that did not appear to be in UAB football’s best interest. One of the most famous decisions was when Neil Callaway was hired to coach UAB. Callaway had strong ties to the University of Alabama and to Coach Bryant. Callaway wasn’t being pursued for any other head coaching decisions. Prior to Callaway’s hire, Jimbo Fisher was seen as a top candidate but when that fell through, there were rumors that Alabama’s Board of Trustees had vetoed the contract with Fisher which basically forced UAB to go after less profile coaches. Callaway did not excel at UAB and was fired after compiling an 18-42 record. Following Callaway was Garrick McGee. After two years, McGee, unprompted, voluntarily gave up his head coaching position to accept a coordinator position at Louisville. His bizarre departure just added fuel to the conspiracy fire. UAB has also suffered from a lack of funding of facilities and plays their games at legendary Legion Field. Legion Field may be legendary but it is also badly in need of improvements and repairs.

UAB is a team that had all the natural advantages of UCF, USF and TCU yet where those schools managed to claw their way to bigger and better futures, UAB now stands on the precipice of extinction. UAB is cradled in the biggest city of one of the best football recruiting states in the nation but because of bad coaching hire decisions and a lack of funding, UAB is unable to take full advantage of the cast off talent that Alabama and Auburn do not recruit. Instead, those recruits go to rival schools like Southern Mississippi and other in-state schools like Troy State and relative newbie, the University of South Alabama.

Whether it is a clandestine plan to keep UAB down or just a series of bad decisions, ending football at UAB is not the answer. A better answer might be to rewrite UAB’s charter so that UAB has its own Board of Trustees made up of those who do not have to split loyalty with other schools. If there is a plan to keep UAB down, it is based on faulty logic. UAB being successful is not detrimental to the University of Alabama nor any other school situated in the state. One doesn’t have to look far to see that multiple school football success in a state is good for every school. This year arch-rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State have helped bring attention to each other by their success. Over the last few years, focus has been in Alabama not because of one school but because of both schools. That attention equates to better recruiting for both schools. In the 1990s, Florida, Florida State and Miami all enjoyed success and that success was amplified, not diminished because of their mutual success. There is plenty of room for UAB to be successful and there is a host of reasons why they should be and already should have been. Hopefully, those that conduct the study and those that will make decisions based on that study will see that and allow UAB to live another day.