UAB Blazers to Reinstate Football Program

By Kevin Kelley -

The UAB Blazers will reinstate their football program, University of Alabama at Birmingham President Ray L. Watts announced Monday.

“Given the broad base of support never before seen, as of today, we are taking steps to reinstate the football, rifle and bowling programs,” Watts said. “I am forwarding documents to Conference USA and the NCAA notifying them that UAB plans to remain an FBS program and a full member of C-USA.”

Back in December, UAB shut down their football program due to budgetary reasons.

When the football team will take the field again remains to be seen, although UAB athletic director Mark Ingram said the goal is as soon as possible, which “may be 2016.”

Although most players transferred and assistant coaches took other positions, head coach Bill Clark remained with the school in hopes the team would be reinstated. He released the following statement today:

“Like all UAB supporters, I am thrilled with today’s news. This is a critical first step toward UAB football’s new path. It takes tremendous commitment and support to run a successful football program. We have a lot of work to do but we start anew today!

“I sincerely appreciate all of the people who have reached out to voice their support for the program and me personally; it means a lot to me and my family. It is an exciting day for UAB and a true relief to know there is a future for UAB football.”

Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky also issued a statement on UAB football.

“We are very pleased with the decision to bring back the football program at UAB. As a conference we are committed to football, and we welcome the good news that the UAB football program has been given another chance. From all indications, this program will now be able to count on a very strong foundation of community support upon which it will begin the re-building that will position it well for success into the future. Although the lengthy evaluation process was challenging, this final outcome makes it worth the wait. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Birmingham as they plan this exciting new chapter in UAB football.”

UAB Football Schedules

  1. james
    June 1, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    if they are going to reinstate it then why did they get ride of it in the first place

    • Dave
      June 1, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Because the University leadership are a bunch of morons and the University of Alabama did not want a big city school’s football program taking any thunder from them.

  2. Stuart
    June 1, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    The financial adjustments, capped subsidies and increased donations, along with shelving wish list projects (over $100m worth) to make FB work as more or less break even is a good thing. It should make it stable. It looks like they have raised about half the $30m required in the next five years to support FB as break even. $17m to cover operational costs, and $13m to cover necessary facility improvements (e.g., artificial turf for practice field to be all weather, new offices and meeting rooms, etc). All good. Too bad it took a crisis to get the budget in order and secure FB. This should have been avoided. Oh well.

    One thing that does concern me is the restart date. 2016 is far too ambitious. They will be lucky to have a little over 50 scholarship players, many will be a lower caliber, more FCS than even G5 types, since the first class will have to be red shirt. If they try to play game and double recruit for 2015, they will wind up crippling the program for three years with bottom level players holding scholarships and being underclassman at that. They program will get back to winning faster if they do a small recruiting for 2015, and then recruit a full 2016 and 2017 (half of this class JC transfer) and return in 2017 playing a mixed FCS and a limited FBS schedule, returning to FBS schedule in 2018. If they do that they could be competitive in CUSA by 2019. If they rush it they will have too many below average players on scholarship and suffer such bad losses on the field that it could take 10 years to be competitive.

    • Slim
      June 2, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Excellent post Stuart. I’m happy for UAB and their supporters. It’s unfortunate the leaders in Alabama could not have put their collective wits together and worked to prevent this debacle in the first place. Those folks should be admonished.

    • Shep
      June 2, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Are there any numbers as to how many players never left the school to begin with? I’ve spoken with some former players about it and they felt that they would’ve been more than happy to stay at the school and collect their scholarship without playing/putting their bodies through the abuse considering they were realistically not going to the NFL.

      I’m curious as to how these players will be handled, if they will be forced to play to keep their scholarships depending on their class or if they can pass, keep the scholarship, and they can give an athletic replacement to another player.

  3. mdawgmike (@mdawgmike)
    June 1, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Hurray! Great news to hear for UAD, and for the G5 as a whole.

    • Stuart
      June 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Shep, UAB had 83 players under scholarship. 17 of those graduated or exhausted their eligibility. 52 received scholarships at other schools they transferred to (4 of those have since quit football, got kicked off their teams or left school). So 48 are on other schools with scholarships, 29 at FBS schools, 18 at FCS, and 1 at a D-II school. Another 7 are walk-ons who transferred to other schools.

      There is 1 player under criminal investigation that nobody will touch. And I think another left UAB before the season ended (he vanished from the roster with 2 weeks left in the season, no word). I count around 25 players still around, less than scholarship players. Some are guys who never broke into the depth chart, others are injury situations, a couple red shirt freshmen not heavily recruited. A few of these transferred but never made the press (I found one transferred to a JC to play Basketball; another was rumored to have left and enrolled at North Alabama to play D-II). Some simply left school and went home. There are probably only 15 players left on campus.

      There are a couple “unclaimed” players of some interest. Shaq Jones, Jr LB (2 years left) was shopping WKU, Marshall, and WMU is the one of high value. When you figure in normal attrition and graduation and six year NCAA time frame used up, effectively UAB is starting over from scratch.

  4. Jim
    June 2, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Just a guess, but C-USA was probably pressuring them to get a team on he field as soon as possible to even out the divisions for scheduling purposes.

  5. David
    June 2, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Very glad the jackals on the UA board didn’t win this round. Here’s hoping they re-christen the team though as “Birmingham” and the “Birmingham Blazers” in recognition of the community support. That’s been a good move for UNC-Charlotte, and the former Memphis State, to focus on the city name, rather than the longer institutional name.
    But we’re all about SCHEDULES here at FBSchedules, right? So, how will it work out for 2016? What schools have open dates, or Hawai’i exemptions to add a game? Might the NCAA even be willing to let G5 schools add a 13th game to make a temporary “Birmingham exemption”? Also, I’m sure Army, BYU, UMass and every Sun Belt School would be more than glad to schedule UAB the next couple years to fill holes they might have. FCS New Hampshire and FCS Maine are always needing games too since no one wants to go that far north. Birmingham has a major airport which makes flying in a LOT easier than certain other G5 locales, like Huntingdon WVa or Statesboro, GA; and P5’s like Waco, TX or Blacksburg, VA.

  6. Day
    June 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Glad to see UAB football program reinstated, it is a big win for the state of Alabama & city of Birmingham. Now if they can just get their own stadium that will be a move in the right direction for the school.

  7. lost in Va.
    June 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    UAB should play as a 1-AA indy in ’16 and ’17, “rejoin” C-USA for the 2018 season…

    • David
      June 2, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      NCAA rules don’t allow for that, period. If you go down, you stay down for ten years now. This is why UMass is begging the AAC to take them.

  8. Stuart
    June 2, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I see you show Kentucky and Georgia State games in 2016 for UAB. However Georgia State already has 4 non-conference games. If that game is to continue it’ll have to be pushed back another year. The low scholarship count makes the Kentucky game problematic for 2016 or even 2017, since to qualify as a D-I opponent they need 58 full time scholarship equivalents (90% of 63 FCS). That makes me doubt there are any games possible in 2016, and 2017 it’d be hard to schedule any FBS schools.

    • Kevin Kelley
      June 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Just hadn’t finished updating their page.

    • David
      June 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Stuart, UAB isn’t beholden to the FCS->FBS scholarship increase rules. They remain an FBS school. Why couldn’t they give one-year scholarships to any players they choose to meet the 58 level? Plenty of JUCO and others out there to recruit from.

  9. David
    June 2, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    So, who needs a 2016 game? Guess UAB will visit UMass at Amherst. Should be a fair fight!
    If UAB takes a Hawai’i trip, UH still needs a 12th, let alone can schedule a 13th game. Maybe @Hawai’i trips would help with recruiting and rebuilding? Do it for ’16 and ’17. Then you can play 13 each year. They could give UAB a 2020 return. But, maybe they could talk back UK. Kentucky needs a game preferably @UK. Otherwise, it’s go @BYU (who’s probably willing to pay) or @Army West Point. Pick up a home game with an FCS visitor such as New Hampshire or Maine (both which need to recruit in the South) or someone.

    • Clay
      June 3, 2015 at 8:33 am

      Mississippi State needs a home game for 2016 also.

    • M.A.T.
      June 3, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Always love people taking any opportunity to shit on UMass, even in a thread that has nothing to do with them. Keep up the excellent work David, solid contributions all around.

    • David
      June 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Look, UMass is an excellent college, and has the best damn marching band north of the SEC, and east of The Ohio State University half-nekkid marching band. But when it comes to football, well, FCS Maine manhandled UMass at Gilette just the year before last. Maine even had MORE FANS there at Gilette. And UAB’s return has much to do with UMass. UMass needs FBS schools that are willing to play at Amherst. And who’s going to do that now that they can’t force 4 MAC schools there for games? UAB’s Ingram can do UMass a huge favor here.

    • M.A.T.
      June 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      Guy, UMass has been an FBS program for three seasons so far. THREE. We’re not going to be dominating games right after we made the jump. A team like Georgia Southern is the exception, not the rule. Could UMass have done things differently in regards to the timing and execution of the jump up? Absolutely. I bet they wish that they could; there have been several embarrassing moments for UMass since the move up. But they can’t, and despite that, the team has begun to make real strides on the field, and should surprise people this season.

      UAB coming back has little to nothing to do with UMass, and we certainly don’t need any type of charity from UAB (no offense to UAB fans here, love the fact that UAB is back). UMass could do UAB a favor by scheduling them though, especially since they’re the team that’s unfortunately restarting a program from scratch. UMass has future games against FBS teams scheduled at McGuirk right now.

      I’d love for UMass to schedule UAB in football once UAB can establish exactly when they’re coming back, because UAB should get all the assistance it needs from other FBS schools because they’ve done the near impossible, and they should be rewarded for it. 2017 in Birmingham, 2018 in Amherst, I’d love to lock that up right now.

  10. Ryan
    June 2, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I wonder if the NCAA will grant some type of waiver to allow former UAB players with eligibility remaining to return to the Blazer football program. It could bring some of the freshmen and sophomores from the 2014 team back. As far as scheduling goes I think the 2016 Blazers should schedule 2 FCS schools and 2 Group of 5 schools that way they can play games they have a shot at winning. Perhaps the C-USA scheduling gurus can cut them a break and give them Old Dominion and Charlotte too.

  11. Stuart
    June 2, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    David they are beholden to the 25 scholarship per year limit. They can claim to be recruiting 2015 players and double up the 2016 class and have 50 plus maybe 6 or 7 holdovers.

    But what are the caliber of such players? These are going to be FCS and D-II type players for the most part and they are going to be on the roster for 2, 3, 4, or 5 years with red shirting. G5 schools are lucky to recruit 2 players a year who can play on P5 schools, and 15 who are going to impact at all at G5 level. But UAB is starting from scratch and even getting that level of player will be more difficult than any established program. If you double up to field a team in 2016 the odds are you will have fewer than 20 legitimate G5 level players and over 30 below that standard on scholarship. That is a recipe for disaster.

    This is why I think it would be more prudent to restart in 2017, playing an FCS schedule against schools with a similar number of scholarships, maybe one or two G5 opponents simply to gauge where you are. In 2018 when you have 40-50 legitimate G5 level players on the roster and 70+ scholarship players I think you can play a CUSA schedule again and not get blown out by 60 points every week. But I think it would take until 2019 or 2020 to have a winning season at G5 level. If you rush it, because the scholarships will be held by most scrubs and walk on types, it could set back a winning record by another 3 or 4 years.

    I know UAB fans want to just run out on the field and they think coach Clark can get it done. But the last team had 5 players the P5 scooped up. He wont even have a dozen that G5 would be interested in for 2016. He’s a good coach, but he’s not able to walk on water. So do it right and give him the tools. Be patient.

  12. Stuart
    June 3, 2015 at 2:34 am

    David, A school can play fewer than 6 FBS schools and be on warning. If the next year they play an FBS schedule they go off warning. That is what we are suggesting UAB do. Play a FCS type schedule in 2017 and then rejoin a full FBS schedule in 2018. That takes advantage of the one year of grace the NCAA allows without forcing you down.

  13. Stuart
    June 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Dennis Dodd is reporting that the AP is saying UAB players who stay will lose a year of eligibility in 2015, which eliminates 11 of the 29 remaining players (I did a full count), including 4 of the remaining scholarship players. Shaq Jones gets screwed by this, he wont play again unless he transfers (WKU was his option according to UAB DC Duwan Walker). Quite a price for being loyal. Sucks.

    • M.A.T.
      June 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Just unreal that they won’t automatically give them a waiver. This whole situation is terrible for these kids. The NCAA is the worst organization this side of FIFA.

  14. Hanzo The Razor
    January 1, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    The city of Birmingham builds a new Baseball Park for the Barons ( double A Southern League)
    On 1st Ave South. There is plenty of room for A 30 to 40,000 seat Stadium on the south side as well. I want UAB to come Back ASAP, but I think they are A better fit in the Sun-Belt Conference. Why you ask? Well for one, UAB would have natural rivalry games with Troy, South Alabama, Ga. State and Ga. Southern. You cannot create rivalry games with Teams from Texas, and it would save the Program money. If they can get a 2 for 1 deal with Ole Miss, Miss. State and one other SEC team. They would have A marquee Game and not playing at the Tomb in the Hood will bring Fans out. Did you know that some of UAB’s largest crowds were when they played Jacksonville State and Troy! UNA had a player shortage when Terry Bowden Left, they got a waiver from the NCAA to bring in more than the allotted recruits for 2 years to get their numbers up. So anything is possible, but do it right .

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