The fairy tale story of Ray Watts and UAB football

Drawing Aly Martin-6 years old--who loves fairy tales
Drawing by Aly Martin-6 years old–who loves fairy tales & UAB

Don’t you love stories with  happy endings?

Once upon a time in the sleepy village of Birmingham, Alabama, an evil UAB President Ray Watts (or his Trustee Roundtable) made the decision to terminate UAB football.

The UAB students took up arms, the faculty revolted, and the townspeople arose.

Chicken Little ran through the streets yelling, “The sky is falling—the sky is falling.”

There was distrust everywhere.

Dr. Watts was the Big Bad Wolf—and he was going to blow our UAB house down.

But then a miracle happened…

Glinda, the good witch of the South, smiled down on UAB and as quickly as you can say ‘Abracadabra,’ beauty kissed the beast, the ugly duckling matured into a swan, and UAB turned into a handsome prince…

  • UAB football was reinstated
  • A new athletic director was selected
  • Generous business people donated much needed money at the 11th hour
  • Coach Bill Clark signed a five year contract
  • A new football facility was announced
  • The UA Board of Trustees committed to support a long term lease for a new football stadium
  • A study was initiated by the BJCC that will likely result in a new stadium
  • The UAB football foundation was established
  • UAB football recruiting is going better than expected*
  • UAB revealed its 2017 non-conference football schedule

Kind of takes your breath away.

When the history of UAB is written, this past year will go down as one of the greatest years in UAB and Birmingham history.

It’s difficult to comprehend, but one the best things that may have ever happened to UAB and Birmingham will be the termination of UAB football.

We reaffirmed what we already knew–Birmingham’s not going anywhere without UAB and UAB is not going anywhere without Birmingham.

We proved—maybe for the first time ever– that we could work together as a community to achieve a meaningful goal.

And we will never be able to use the excuse again that we in Birmingham are losers and we cannot do anything right.

This is truly a Birmingham and UAB fairy tale.

And here’s our happy ending…

“Everyone lived happily ever after.”

*According to Kevin Scarbinsky: The latest bright spot is the mid-year signing class of 19 players. It’s the top-rated class in Conference USA, and it includes players who started their college careers at Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia and Michigan State.

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David Sher is co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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6 thoughts on “The fairy tale story of Ray Watts and UAB football”

  1. *Well said David. This story of the people standing up and demanding that their leaders listen can become addictive. Watch out!

  2. *Great story …”The fairy tale story of Ray Watts and UAB football”.  This is a fairy tale that is becoming more real with the passage of time.

  3. *I’m looking forward to UAB football’s resurgence but I’m afraid all is for naught if the fairy tale does not include a new stadium. I hate to be a downer, but a large faction of the supporters demanding the program’s reinstatement never (and never will) attend UAB games at Legion Field. UAB football’s long-term success depends on a new stadium that is safe and convenient for the fans to support our city’s team. 

  4. All UAB Athletes and UAB proper had to do was tell supporters about the (alleged – see Andy Schwarz) financial situation of the football program, ask us for $17.2 million over five years, AND ALLOW US TO GIVE THEM THE MONEY DIRECTLY TO THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, and we’d be on the exact same positive path we are on now, without missing any football seasons.

    Shutting down football is not the best thing to happen to UAB Football. Finally soliciting donations for football, like every other school ever, is the best thing to happen to football. Shutting the program down was just the way Watts managed to accidentally fail up.

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