The UAB Blazers will shut down their football program and fire their athletic director, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.
Speculation over the future of the UAB football program has grown over the last couple of months, and it appears it will come to an end in an announcement that is expected later this week.
First-year head coach Bill Clark told ESPN today that he expects the UAB program to be shuttered.
“I think it’s going to happen,” said Clark. “Unless something changes before the weekend ends, I think it’s over. I think the odds are very high it ends this week. To shut the doors? That’s sad.”
UAB began playing football in 1991 in NCAA Division III. After two seasons there, the Blazers moved up to Division II in 1993 before reaching Division I in 1996. The Blazers played two seasons as an Independent before joining their first, and current, conference, Conference USA in 1999.
In 24 seasons, UAB has complied an overall record of 117-150-2 (.439). The Blazers have played in one post-season game, the 2004 Hawaii Bowl, and they lost 59-40 to Hawaii.
This season, under new head coach Bill Clark, the Blazers finished 6-6 and are bowl-eligible for the third time overall and the first time since ’04. Currently, it’s unknown whether UAB would accept an invite to a bowl if offered.
If the UAB football program is shut down, Conference USA will again have an open slot and the move will also affect the future football schedules of several teams.
Conference USA, currently at 13 members, was set to move to 14 teams next season with the addition of the Charlotte 49ers. If UAB is not around, the conference will again be at 13 teams like they are this season.
If C-USA still wants to move to a 14-team league without UAB, some FCS schools likely to garner interest include James Madison and Liberty. Some pundits have also suggested a few current Sun Belt schools, such as Arkansas State, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State, and UL Lafayette.
As far as future schedules, UAB is currently slated to open the 2015 season against the Tennessee Volunteers at LP Field in Nashville. The game isn’t a neutral-site kickoff game, but rather a Tennessee home game “moved” to Nashville.
Tennessee could be left scrambling for a new opponent and it would be tough as they already have an FCS opponent lined up (Western Carolina on Sept. 19).
In 2015, UAB is also scheduled to host Georgia State and South Alabama and travel to Troy. At first glance, you would think those four teams could just play each other. But that would require more shuffling because their playable dates don’t match up.
For the 2016 season, which is the farthest that UAB has games scheduled, the Blazers have four games under contract. They are scheduled to open the season at Kentucky, travel to South Alabama, host Troy, and later visit Georgia State.
More should be known about the future of UAB football later this week, but fans, students, players, and more aren’t happy about the possibility of losing the team.