Dye-Gest: UAB Controversy Not Going Away

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about UAB football's demise and the efforts to restart the program in Birmingham.

The situation with the UAB football program being shut down and the controversy that has created has been interesting to follow. It is a story that doesn’t look like it is going to go away anytime soon. I haven’t talked to a lot of people in-depth about the situation, but like a lot of others I have an opinion.

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Birmingham is certainly a large enough city to support a major college football team. I think there are people in the area, including Auburn and Alabama people, who will support UAB if they want to have a football program, but the will to make that happen has to start at the top.

There has certainly been a lot of discussion about bringing back UAB football and the issue has been pushed into the political arena during the current legislative session in Montgomery. I would think if the governor and the University of Alabama system’s trustees don’t want UAB to have a football team there isn’t going to be enough influence in Montgomery or anywhere else to undo what has happened. If that is the case there is no use to keep fighting to have a team because it isn’t going to happen.

UAB has certainly had success in basketball, but it is a lot easier for a university to set up a basketball program because it is so much less costly and less complicated to start a team in that sport than a football team.

I think this situation will ultimately come down to the university president doing what the board of trustees tells him to do. If the governor, board of trustees and the politicians want to make it happen they can make it happen.

If there was a really good college football program in Birmingham I think it would do wonders for the city because there are a lot of fans there who are not on the priority list at Auburn or not on the priority list at Alabama. They could get on such a list at UAB and have a team to support.

The right guy up there leading the program could make it happen and UAB might have had the right guy coaching when the team was eliminated because Bill Clark was doing a good job.

I think one of the keys to success for football at UAB would be to have a better stadium for the Blazers to play their home games at because Legion Field is not located in the right place to attract a lot of spectators. It is not like it was in its glory days when Birmingham was called the Football Capital of the South.

I was talking to some University of Alabama students this week who are doing a documentary on Legion Field. I know it has a rich tradition because there were so many Auburn-Alabama games played there over the years. Also, Auburn played other games there, too, against teams like Georgia Tech and Tennessee and for many years Alabama played all of its big games at Legion Field.

However, before UAB worries about coming up with a new home field the decision has to be made to play football again. After what has happened if the decision is made to re-start the program the Blazers would have to start all over again recruiting players and getting reorganized. If that happens the university will need to take a long-term approach, understanding success isn’t going to happen overnight.

It is going to be interesting to see how this thing ends. If the Blazers start playing again, and build a good, sound program, I think it will be a plus for Birmingham and won’t do anything to harm the programs at Auburn or Alabama.

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