By Hunter Ford
An old friend recently contacted me about setting up a meeting to try and motivate UAB football fans to better support the Blazers.
UAB football is on life support right now. I believe it could be resuscitated.
UAB football has several problems, some that could be remedied quickly and others that will take awhile.
The Blazers must get more fans to games. The easiest way to do that would be to win games and create some buzz.
UAB has had some decent teams in its 12 years of playing Division One college football. But in order to earn respect, the Blazers must win seven or eight games each season and consistently finish in the top of Conference USA, which would mean playing in the conference championship game.
The Birmingham Metro area has plenty of talent. UAB should focus on keeping as much of its homegrown talent as possible. If Joe Schmo plays at Jess Lanier and has offers from UAB, Louisiana Tech and Florida Atlantic, thereâ€™s a good chance that Joe might want to stay close to home, play at a school that will be on TV a couple of times and vie for a bowl appearance, rather than go somewhere unfamiliar. Keeping local players ensures that parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and friends can see Joe play, which means more people in the stadium.
UAB has two big political problems. One is with the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. The UA Trustees have little concern for UAB athletics. The board refused to even consider hiring Jimbo Fisher, saying he commanded too high a salary. You can see the obvious hypocrisy when the board hired Nick Saban to coach in Tuscaloosa to the tune of $4 million per season.
But UAB fans are unwise to try and make enemies with powerful Alabama boosters. Agitating these folks will only result in bad things. Itâ€™s also unwise to alienate otherwise good natured â€œaverageâ€ Alabama fans by making the Crimson Tide a phantom villain of UABâ€™s. I believe there are many Alabama fans that would take in a UAB game or two each year if they arenâ€™t made to feel unwelcome.
The other political problem is with the local government. While local politicians continue the insane quest for a domed stadium, UAB remains married to Legion Field for better or worse and til death do they part.
The ongoing debate about a domed stadium has resulted in a negative publicity attack on Legion Field that is really not truthful.
Legion Field is a classic. Like an old muscle car, Legion Fieldâ€™s main structure is very sound. It occasionally needs new paint and parts, but it is solid and deserves to be taken care of.
UAB could fill an important niche in the Birmingham community. UAB games are affordableâ€¦ they are good entertainmentâ€¦they are easily accessible. The positive aspects of UAB football must be played up. The false negative statements about Legion Field must be rebutted. And UAB fans must be smarter about their relationship with Alabama fans. UAB football could still work.