A Season in Rewind; A recap of the 2011-2012 UAB athletic season
Posted on Jul 13, 2012 in Sports
Let’s face it, when it comes to UAB sports, no one thinks collegiate sports powerhouse.
In a land where “Roll Tide” and “War Eagle” echoes throughout the stands, Blazer fans have not had much to cheer about this past year.
With head coaches of other sports being fired while the men’s golf team rises, UAB has seen its share of ups and downs this past season. Here’s a recap of Blazer sports in 2011-12.
First, the bad news. Gene Bartow, known as “The Father of UAB Athletics,” died at the age of 81 after a two-year battle with stomach cancer.
Bartow, who also served as the school’s first athletics director, guided his first team to a 15-11 record and followed that with an 18-12 season that ended at the National Invitation Tournament.
The program then made seven consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, beginning with a Sweet 16 appearance in 1981 and an Elite Eight trip in 1982.
Bartow retired from coaching in 1996, handing the program’s reins to son Murry, and remained as the athletics director until 2000.
This year also saw the Blazer fans hopes of getting an on-campus stadium reach an all-time high. UAB announced a plan and design of the stadium, but the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees crushed the opportunity.
Then there was the firing of Mike Davis, the men’s basketball head coach. This came after a year after he led the Blazers to a fourth-consecutive, 20-win season and into the NCAA tournament.
With questionable recruiting, Davis couldn’t sustain the momentum. A depleted squad fell to 15-16, matching the record of his first season at UAB.
Davis led the Blazers to the NIT three times and took them to the NCAA tournament for the first time during the 2010-11 season. They also claimed their first C-USA regular season title. It earned the former Indiana league coach of the year honors, but no raise or contract extension.
Athletic director Brian Mackin said wins and losses weren’t the only factor. He also cited waning fan support and lack of postseason success.
In December, the men’s football head coach, Neil Callaway, was also fired, a day after the Blazers lost to Florida Atlantic 38-35 to finish the season with a 3-9 record.
Callaway had an 18-42 record in five seasons with the Blazers. Having the smallest recruiting budget in Conference USA, Callaway never had a winning season at UAB. His team’s best finish was 5-7 in 2009.
Then there’s the good news. Jerod Haase was named the men’s basketball head coach.
Haase’s entire college coaching career has been spent as part of Roy Williams’ staff. He served for five seasons under Williams at Kansas and the past nine seasons at North Carolina.
Blazer fans can also look forward to a more productive football season with the hiring of Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee as head coach.
McGee is a former Oklahoma quarterback who spent the past four seasons at Arkansas, including two as offensive coordinator.
The Razorbacks lead the Southeastern Conference in total and passing offense and are second in scoring.
The men’s soccer team got the Blazers athletic season starting in the right direction. They where the 11th overall seed in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament under the direction of head coach Mike Getman.
Marla Townsend followed suit and led her softball team to one of its best seasons to date, recording a 37-22 record and earning a large bid into the NCAA tournament.
The baseball team pulled together for a late surge despite a conference schedule skid. They rallied to win the C-USA baseball tournament to earn them a spot in the NCAA championship as well.
Last, but not least, is the emergence of Alan Kaufman’s men’s golf team. The team was one of 30 teams to qualify for the NCAA Men’s Golf Nationals after finishing third in regional competition.
The Blazers finished the spring regular season ranked No. 34 in the country and had their strongest regional showing in the eight trips in school history.
UAB also introduced two new sports this year with the addition of women’s bowling and sand volleyball.
With all of the hiring and firing at UAB, the future looks bright for Blazer fans. As showed by the most recent Learfield Cup Standings — which compares around 350 Division I schools — UAB placed at its highest since the 1999-2000 campaign. The Green and Gold rose to a 122 and sixth in conference USA and was just a single point away from fourth.