A Letter to the Editor
Posted on Nov 15, 2010 in Sports
After UAB football clinched its sixth consecutive losing record (its fourth under Head Coach Neil Callaway) last Thursday night, I found it difficult to integrate my thoughts of where the program stands, so like any good college student, I sought the answer on Wikipedia.
The “UAB Blazers football” Wikipedia page, which is most likely tailored by the Athletic Dept. or Media Relations, states that the program “continues to make large strides both in on-the-field success and in attendance.” Dwindling attendance numbers and a collective of Owls, Mustangs, Knights, Volunteers, Bulldogs, Buffalo and even Pirates would point to a different conclusion.
We Blazer fans were willing to swallow the heartbreakers in Starkville and Knoxville as moral victories, and many of us decided to believe that the post-bye-week debacle in Orlando was evidence more of UCF’s superiority than of our inferiority. But after digesting such roughage, the Blazer Nation needed at least the comforts of a Homecoming win and a bowl-eligible season; our upset stomachs received neither.
President Garrison has hinted at an on-campus stadium being the result of increased enthusiasm and support for our football program. I’m afraid that the dying horse is lying behind the cart. The combination of the vacuum-like atmosphere at Legion Field and the program’s consistent ability to break our hearts has stifled and will continue to stifle any potential that the sort of substantial growth in attendance and support that President Garrison expects will ever be realized. Instead of planning for growth, Blazer fans and administrators are fighting football spirit collapse.
If the UAB football team consisted chiefly of mediocre, apathetic athletes and walk-ons fielded in desperation, my confusion and unsettledness about the state of the program would not be as great. But the obvious talent of such players as Pat Shed, Elliot Henigan, and Jeffery Anderson and the too frequent fourth quarter and last-minute butter-fingering of victory must make one wonder what the real difference is between an 8-2 Blazers team and the one that we currently find ourselves cheering.
I am ready and willing to give Coach Callaway credit for improving the culture and mind-set of our program during his tenure, but the fact remains that, even if the Blazers win out this season, he and his staff’s resumes will contain only 16 wins in four years, a perennial bottom 25 defensive ranking, and numerous appearances on ESPN.com’s weekly “Bottom 10” column.
In conclusion, I feel that, under their current leadership and in their current location, the UAB Football Blazers are inevitably devolving in the minds of fans, non-fans, and the Birmingham community into the UAB Football Malaisers.
Unless visible, substantial change is affected on the UAB football program in the very near future, Blazer fans will continue to increase the volume of their “Is it basketball season yet?”-filled sighs. If President Garrison continues to expect visibly increased support for our football program before advocating for a large-scale improvement in facilities, then I cannot stifle the following questions: For what reasons will Neil Callaway be retained as our head coach?
Do you not believe that many potential game attendees are repulsed by our current location? Is a one-in-three success rate satisfactory for other UAB employees, such as those working in Financial Aid, Student Life, and Campus Housing?
I ask these questions only because I am sick of such sad sights as UAB students wearing Bama and Auburn gear on game day and giving celebrities Crimson Tide neckties during Homecoming. I want anything connected to UAB to be successful, or at least to be taken seriously.
Jared A. Sutton