The Revival of UAB Football

Holden Carter, Editor

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In 2014, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) football team was riding high. The Blazers were eligible for a bowl game for the first time since 2004. A day after the team won its 6th game, propelling the Blazers to bowl eligibility, it was announced UAB was planning to fire athletic director Brian Mackin. Along with the dismissal of Mackin as AD, the university also announced it would end its football program. UAB’s president Ray Watts stated the main reason for the ending of the football program was the rapidly increasing cost to field a team.

Then in June of 2015, Watts announced that the football program would return due to the public outrage towards the university’s decision and an estimated 27 million dollars of public fundraising towards the football program. Later that month, Athletic Director Mark Ingram stated football would return to UAB for the 2017 season. The 2015 and 2016 went unplayed by the Blazers, causing many of its top football talent to leave.

The 2017 season arrived and the NCAA had officially cleared UAB to compete. Not much was expected from the Blazers in their return season. Their fans and college football fans in general were just glad to have UAB back. Expectations were low for the Blazers, with some predicting them to be the 130th “best” in college football. Athlon Sports predicted the Blazers to finish 7th in the Conference USA (C-USA), with an overall record of 3-9. This prediction was not surprising, as returning after a two year hiatus isn’t easy for a football program.

The UAB Blazer football team opened its 2017 season with a win in front of a sold out crowd at Legion Field. The 2017 season rolled on, as the team won only one of its next three games. Then came the favorites to win C-USA, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. My girlfriend and I are big college football fans, and since Birmingham isn’t too far and tickets weren’t too expensive, we decided to take the trip to see UAB play LA Tech. It was a great game between two opponents that greatly wanted to add another win.

UAB came out firing quickly taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. LA Tech was able to add a score later in the first. At the half, the score was 16-10, UAB. A defensive battle between the two foes prevented any points in the third. Then came the fourth quarter. LA Tech scored, but missed the extra point. UAB then responded with a touchdown of its own to retake the lead 23-16.

With only 3:32 left to play, the Bulldogs completed a 42-yard touchdown pass, but again the extra point was missed. Clinging to a 23-22 lead, the Blazers were able to successfully field an onside kick. UAB’s focus then turned to running out the clock, but big plays from the LA Tech defense forced a punt.

The Bulldogs’ offense was able to drive down the field, setting up a 30-yard field goal attempt to win the game. The Blazers blocked the field goal attempt to preserve a 23-22 win over the Bulldogs, and a celebration unfolded on the field and in the stands.

The next game for the UAB Blazers was against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The Blazers took care of the Blue Raiders, improving to an overall record of 4-2 and a C-USA record of 2-1. The fans of UAB football have shown how happy they are to have their beloved Blazers in a big way. UAB currently leads Conference USA in attendance, and the team is 4-0 at home. So now UAB sits just outside of bowl eligibility with six games left to play, which in itself is pretty impressive, especially with the circumstances around the football team.

It’s safe to say the Blazers have shattered almost all expectations. Welcome back Blazers!

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