- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- First African-American faculty member speaks at UAB
- UAB Relay for Life All-Night Event on the Green Starts Friday
- The Nile Project to be in residence at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center in 2015
- Libertarian Gary Johnson joins Tuesday panel for Earth Month
- Jalapeno Popper Pull Apart Bread
- Women’s Softball vs Tulsa a rain victim
- UAB, UAH student groups to host sustainability debate
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- UAB Celebrates Earth Month
- Cellular Stress May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
- Blazers Defeat Gamecocks
- Study War No More
- 2014-2015 UAB USGA General Election Results
- Celebrate Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Future of UAB football
The UA system Board of Trustees has a long history of tampering with UAB Athletics, most notably in 2006 when Jimbo Fisher’s appointment as head coach was blocked by the board. Recently, and to the scorn of Blazer fans, they have indefinitely tabled talk of building an on-campus football stadium for the Blazers.
These actions by the BOT have made me sick. Many fans, myself included, are looking for a reason to believe. Something has to be done.
For 20 years the BOT has held the Blazers back in Athletics, denying UAB the essential threads necessary to be relevant. UAB and its faithful have been looking for a reason to believe in their school.
Early in fall 2011, I sat down with former Blazer offensive lineman Daniel Seahorn. The evening started with the normal southern salutations and quickly moved into a moment for Seahorn to clear his heart and soul of pain and embarrassment of his time at UAB.
Seahorn made it known that he loved UAB and it was special, but there was something wrong.
“We should be able to win,” said Seahorn. “You lose hope when they reward failure. How could they give Coach Callaway an extension last year?”
“Why [is the Board of Trustees] trying to hold us back? The on-campus stadium is waiting on them,” added Seahorn. “We have the medical school. Why can’t we make our own decisions? It frustrates me to see my teammates struggling. When is enough, enough? When are you going to get tired of being below average? When are you going to be tired of being the butt of the jokes? Why can’t we go on our own?”
Seahorn spoke with such eloquence and passion that I almost missed the power of his statements.
Why can’t we go on our own? When are we going to be tired of being below average?
In October 2011, UAB President Carol Garrison reported in her State of the University Address that UAB has a $4.6 billion annual impact on Alabama’s economy.
Garrison also brought attention to the fact that UAB ranks among the top 20 universities in the nation in federal research, that UAB is the top research university in the state, and that it receives more funding than all the other universities in Alabama combined.
The 2012 U.S. News and World Report ranks a number of programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham among the nation’s Top 10, including primary care, AIDS, health services and nursing services administration.
UAB supporters rarely, if ever, accuse the Board of Trustees of derailing the fortunes of the School of Medicine or other programs. However, the mention of Jimbo Fisher or the on-campus stadium ignites the flame of Blazer fans everywhere. As the fight for independence and an equal voice marches on, has UAB really been doing the best they can with the athletic cards that have been dealt to them?
In the ever-changing world of college football, UAB has done little to compete in the 20 years of their program. After two seasons in Division III and three seasons at the FCS (fomer Division I-AA) level, UAB ascended into big time football with a less than stellar record, tradition and facilities.
Since the 1996 season, when UAB first played as an FBS (Former Division I) football school, the college football world has changed arguably more than any other time in college football history.
With the recent surge in television contracts, coaches’ salaries and athletic budgets, UAB has been left behind, scratching its head and praying for a miracle.
The future of Blazer football looks even bleaker as mega-conferences continue to arise and rumors of the defection of fellow conference schools dominate the news.
Without East Carolina, Houston and UCF, can Conference USA really survive? When did the goal of college sports become survival?
It seems the whole goal of Conference USA football has always been survival. National Championships are out of the question, and the best a UAB team can do is play a .500 SEC school at the Liberty Bowl to finish their season. When did it become an accomplishment to beat a subpar team?
Though the unthinkable may happen, if the dominos align and fall just right, the conference winner could find themselves as a whipping boy in Glendale for the Fiesta Bowl.
The UAB athletic department has had plenty of success in other sports, boasting the only men’s NCAA Division I soccer team in the state and achieving unparalleled basketball success since the 1978 season.
Men’s basketball first came to UAB in 1978. Since its inception, the Blazers have 15 NCAA appearances, six Conference titles and an Elite Eight appearance.
No other university in the state has matched UAB in men’s basketball success.
The Blazer women have a WNIT title, two NCAA appearances and four conference titles also in their short history.
It is often said amongst Blazer alumni and students, “We can never compete with Auburn and Alabama in football.”
But UAB can and has in other in other sports. So why doesn’t UAB make a move to compete in football?
In a school smaller in size than Auburn and Alabama, and with a significant commuter population, would it not serve the Blazers more to play at the FCS football level?
The move down a division would not end the fight for freedom against the Board of Trustees. It would give UAB a chance to move to Regions Park, where fans would feel safer and the stadium would be constantly filled to capacity. Tickets would no longer have to be given away by the thousands.
The city of Hoover could partner with UAB, and UAB would, for the first time, make money as a football program.
As a member of the Ohio Valley Conference or the Southern Conference, UAB would be able to challenge Jacksonville State, Samford and Appalachian State, while still maintaining the ability to play Troy and Memphis.
With coordinator salaries soaring above the head coaching salary at UAB, the Blazers would be able to compete for the top coaches as they are now unable to do.
The Green and Gold could be a powerhouse and develop traditions that they never acquired. As a self-sustaining program, it would be one more leg the university would have to stand on.
And, just maybe, the recruits could visit the locker room after a game.
The smaller football budget would make other programs greater threats in the future.
If UAB does not change their focus, they will lose their competitive basketball program as their facilities and budget lag behind Auburn, Alabama and South Alabama.
If the football team’s only goal is to beat a bunch of Conference USA schools with zero academic standards and head to Memphis to play an irrelevant Kentucky team, the athletic program has missed it.
UAB supporters say their goal is not to compete with Auburn and Alabama because they can’t.
“When are we going to be tired of being below average?”
If UAB is not below average, they should prove it.