The 2014-’15 college athletic calendar has featured some noteworthy successes for UAB athletics, but the railroading and closure of UAB football casts a pall over all Blazer sports.
The lingering malaise of UAB football having its 2015 season cancelled, with threat of ceasing operations altogether, was evident in the Blazer basketball team’s run to the Conference-USA Tournament championship.
UAB took to the court in jerseys that read simply “BIRMINGHAM” without mention of Alabama. And why would they? Alabama failed UAB football; or at least, the Alabama Board of Trustees failed UAB football.
Some in positions of power didn’t simply fight too passively. UAB President Ray Watts seemingly worked to actively undercut the UAB football program. The latest installment in the drama is detailed in John Talty’s report for AL.com that Watts never spoke with the firm tabbed to examine UAB football’s finances.
This latest revelation only fuels the butting of heads between Watts and the football program’s supporters. Some of those supporters reportedly began UAB basketball’s C-USA title tilt not chanting for an NCAA Tournament berth, but rather the dismissal of Ray Watts.
Apparently a loud "Fire Ray Watts" chant has broken out in the C-USA Tournament finals.
— Cory Gunkel (@CoryGunkel) March 14, 2015
Indeed, the UAB football situation will continue to hang over the Blazers’ basketball run into March Madness. But that’s not a bad thing. Intentional or not, UAB’s simple “BIRMINGHAM” text across their jerseys draws attention to the Blazers playing for their program; their community.
And UAB is the only team from the state of Alabama in the NCAA Tournament field.
Continued success for other Blazers sports also gives UAB football fans reason to hold onto hope.
The football program reached bowl eligibility in 2014, the first time since 2004. Its exclusion from a bowl game was one of the more disappointing moments of last college football season.
However, the strides being made under head coach Bill Clark were obvious, and one of the first glimmers that the program, situated in a talent-rich recruiting area, could meet its potential.
The excitement of Clark’s first season, combined with the fan base’s unity against Watts and the BoT, have Blazers backers putting down deposits on 2016 season tickets. Clark himself purchased 100.
Success for the basketball team keeps that momentum and excitement alive, and it’s not just the tourney-bound hoops program.
— Taylor Reed (@rollbluetide) January 18, 2015