To be, or not UAB. Could ‘autonomy’ kill the Blazers?

Many Alabama fans reluctantly accept the existence of UAB football and simply ignore it.  Others are often quite vocal about their desire to see UAB’s program die and go to football hell.

For those in the latter camp, autonomy for the Power 5 football schools could give them their wish.  Recently, the University of Hawaii’s athletic director, Ben Jay, said Hawaii may not be able to afford to play football in the future.

Empty seats at Legion Field are the norm at UAB football games

If Hawaii can’t afford a football program, how could others, like UAB?  The folks who believe UAB should scrap its football program often cite lack of revenue and poor attendance.  Others probably don’t care much about the financial issues.

There are some people who will always hate UAB athletics because of a 20th century squabble between former UAB basketball coach and AD Gene Bartow and former Alabama basketball coach Wimp Sanderson.  This incident (or incidents) led Bartow to write an angry letter to the NCAA accusing the Alabama program of cheating in recruiting.  The accusation did not sit well with fans of the Crimson Tide, or then athletic director Paul “Bear” Bryant.

That old feud is moot in the 21st century.  However, the future of Hawaii, UAB, and other football playing schools outside the Power 5, will most certainly be affected by whatever transpires in this new age of Division I football.  Schools like UAB, and Troy, depend on money games against Power 5 schools.

The Blazers will play road games against Mississippi State and Arkansas this year.  UAB has played at Tennessee, Nebraska, Ohio State and LSU in the past.  The Duke Blue Devils will visit Troy on September 6 this year, and the Trojans have a date with Georgia, in Athens, on September 20.  Troy has also played many games in past seasons against SEC schools and other Power 5 schools.

If the Power 5 were to only schedule games against other Power 5 schools, the “money” games will evaporate for the likes of UAB, Troy, South Alabama and others.

I’ve always believed UAB deserves to have a football program, as much as Jacksonville State, UNA, Miles, Alabama A&M, Huntington College, or any other Alabama university.   And the “big guys” have a vested interest in keeping the “little guys” around.

The Power 5 conferences probably don’t want to lose the option to play “cupcake” games for homecoming, or to pad the win-loss record.  It will be interesting to see if the “autonomy bomb” will vaporize schools on the outside of the Power 5, and if anybody outside of die-hard fans of “the little guys” will care.



How will “autonomy” shape the future of schools like UAB and Troy?