It’s heartbreaking because Bill Clark and UAB are showing new life, but I think it’s unavoidable. There are just too many obstacles for UAB football to overcome.
Even though UAB is having a great turnaround season only 9,457 fans showed up at Legion Field this past week for UAB’s loss to Louisiana Tech.
Here are five reasons why UAB football will probably not survive:
U of A Trustees want UAB Football to fail
There has been no indication that the Alabama Board of Trustees want to support Blazer football. The University of Alabama paid Southern Mississippi $1.4 million this year to play a game. This season the University has played Florida Atlantic and is scheduled to play Western Carolina. This is money that Alabama is sending to Mississippi, Florida, and North Carolina—not to UAB.
If Blazer football were successful, the University of Alabama would have to compete for recruits and fans. Alabama is not about ready to let that happen.
A great football team needs a decent stadium
Last year the Alabama Trustees refused to consider building a UAB campus stadium. Blazer football is never going to be successful at Legion Field and if and when the BJCC builds an indoor football stadium it won’t be on the UAB campus and it will be too large.
College football competition in Alabama is too great
Would you want to start an Internet search firm if you had to compete head to head with Google; or a social media company to compete with Facebook?
UAB is fighting for recruits, fans, and resources with the University of Alabama and Auburn—that is craziness. And even more perverse, UAB’s destiny is in the hands of the University of Alabama.
Athletic opportunities are greater in soccer and basketball
UAB could succeed big time with soccer and basketball.
Soccer: UAB is building a new campus soccer facility. The facility will be named BBVA Compass Field, a decision made by the University Of Alabama System Board Of Trustees in honor of a $1.5 million gift by BBVA Compass.
World Cup (soccer) was wildly popular this year in the U.S. and in Birmingham. Who would have thought it was possible? Soccer is coming on like a tidal wave.
Millions of American children are playing soccer and its popularity is growing exponentially. UAB’s men’s team is currently ranked No. 22 in the nation and UAB has a chance over time to build a dynasty. (Then maybe UAB can refuse to play Alabama)
Basketball: Alabama and Auburn aren’t exactly basketball titans.
UAB basketball was once great under Gene Bartow. Since UAB’s inaugural season, the Blazers have made 14 appearances in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament including three Sweet Sixteen appearances and one Elite Eight appearance.
Men’s basketball showed promise under Mike Anderson a few years back—but soon Coach Anderson was gone. UAB could be a top tier basketball team given the appropriate attention and resources.
Football tarnishes UAB’s brand
When you hear the name, “UAB,” these words come to mind—“excellence, cutting edge, breakthrough, world leader.”
UAB football would probably be described as—“second tier, minor-league, struggling.”
Thank goodness for UAB
The best thing that ever happened to Birmingham is UAB. And UAB will continue to make us proud—but probably not in football.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).