UAB Blazers football

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UAB Blazers football
2017 UAB Blazers football team
UAB Blazers wordmark.png
First season 1991 (idle 2015–2016)
Head coach Bill Clark
2nd season, 4th year, 6–6 (.500)
Stadium Legion Field
Year built 1927
Seating capacity 71,594
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Birmingham, AL
Conference C-USA
Division West
All-time record 118–153 (.435)
Bowl record 0–1 (.000)
Rivalries Southern Miss
Colors Forest Green and Old Gold[1]
Fight song UAB Fight Song
Mascot Blaze (Dragon)
Marching band UAB Marching Blazers

The UAB Blazers football program represents the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the sport of American football. In the 2017 season, the Blazers will compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the West Division of Conference USA (CUSA). The team will be coached by Bill Clark, who also coached the 2014 Blazers, the team's most recent season. The Blazers play their home games at Legion Field, which has a seating capacity of 71,594. The Blazers have made one postseason bowl appearance, the 2004 Hawaii Bowl.

On November 30, 2014, a day after the Blazers had become bowl eligible for the first time since 2004, Sports Illustrated reported that UAB was planning to fire athletic director Brian Mackin and end the football program.[2] On December 2, UAB president Ray Watts officially announced that the school would be shutting down the football program, as well as the bowling and rifle programs, at the end of the 2014–15 academic year. He stated that the main reason for the shutdown was the rapidly increasing cost to field a competitive football team. According to Watts, projected costs of a credible football program would cost the school $49 million over the next five years, over the $20 million a year already spent on the program, and that after five years this cost would likely continue to rise.[3] On June 1, 2015, Watts announced the reversal of the decision to end UAB football due to the public opinion against the decision and the public fundraising of more than $27 million towards the program. The Blazers football program will resume play in 2017, with the bowling and rifle programs to be immediately reinstated.[4] On June 4, 2015, Athletic Director Mark Ingram indicated that the 2017 season was a more reasonable timeline to field a football team for play, due to massive transfers from the program following the termination and the NCAA's recruiting rules.[5] On June 4, Conference USA announced it would not take any action against UAB now that it has reinstated football, and the school would, in effect, remain in the conference.[6] On July 21, 2015, the NCAA cleared UAB to resume playing football in 2017, and to continue competing in FBS.[7] On January 16, 2016, the UAB football team announced its slate of non-conference opponents when it returns to play in the 2017 season.[8]


Jim Hilyer era (1991–1994)[edit]

UAB football began with the play of an organized club football team in 1989.[9] After two years competing as a club football team, on March 13, 1991, UAB President Charles McCallum and athletic director Gene Bartow announced that the university would compete in football as a NCAA Division III team beginning in the fall of 1991, with Jim Hilyer serving as the first head coach.[10]

From 1991 to 1992, UAB competed as a Division III Independent, and during this period, the Blazers compiled an 11–6–2 overall record. During this period, the Blazers played their first all-time game on September 7, 1991, a 28–0 loss at Millsaps, and notched their first all-time win on September 21, 1991, a 34–21 victory at Washington & Lee.[11] After only a pair of seasons at the Division III level, a NCAA ruling resulted in the Blazers being reclassified as a I-AA team for the 1993 season.[12] The reclassification was a result of the NCAA prohibiting a school's athletic program from being multi-divisional, and since UAB already competed in Division I in other sports, the move became necessary.[12] In their first game as a I-AA team, the Blazers would lose to Troy State 37–3 before a home crowd on September 6, 1993.[13] By 1994, the Blazers would play their first I-A opponent against Kansas.[11] Following the 1994 season, coach Hilyer would resign with Watson Brown being announced as the program's second ever coach on January 2, 1995.[10]

During the 1995 season, the Blazers would notch their first ever victory over a I-A opponent on the road against North Texas by a score of 19–14.[14] From 1993 to 1995, UAB competed as a Division I-AA Independent, and during this period compiled a 21–12 overall record before making the jump to Division I-A for the 1996 season.[11]

Watson Brown era (1995–2006)[edit]

Watson Brown came to UAB from Oklahoma, where he served as offensive coordinator. On November 9, 1995, UAB was officially informed by the NCAA that the school had met all requirements for reclassification, and as such the Blazers would enter the 1996 season as an I-A Independent.[15] In their first I-A game, UAB was defeated by in-state rival Auburn 29–0, and would finish their first I-A season with a 5–6 overall record. Already a participating member in other sports, on November 13, 1996, Conference USA commissioner Mike Slive announced that UAB would be admitted to the league as a football playing member for the 1999 season.[16]

Following the transition to I-A, UAB often played a couple of out-of-conference games with college football's traditional powers every year. In 2000, UAB achieved a monumental victory by beating the SEC's LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. In 2004, UAB reached yet another milestone earning its first bowl trip in school history, to the Hawaii Bowl.

After being the face of the program for 12 years, on December 9, 2006, Watson Brown resigned as UAB's head coach to take the head coaching position at Tennessee Tech.[17]

Neil Callaway era (2007–2011)[edit]

Following Brown's resignation, UAB first intended to promote assistant Pat Sullivan, but the University of Alabama board of trustees blocked the promotion.[18] UAB then had a deal in place with Jimbo Fisher, then offensive coordinator at LSU,[18] who would eventually go on to be the head coach at Florida State.[19] The trustees again denied UAB its desired hire.[18] Following the scuttling of the deal with Fisher, some sportswriters, including reporter Gregg Doyel, noted that Alabama was also looking for a new head coach at the time, adding that Fisher had served as offensive coordinator when Alabama's top candidate Nick Saban had been head coach at LSU. Doyel postulated that because of this familiarity, Alabama may have looked to hire Fisher and thus the trustees did not want UAB interfering with the potential hire and consequently impeded their coaching search.[18]

After exhausting many options, UAB finally turned to former Alabama player and Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway, who was named head coach on December 17, 2006.[20] The hire was strongly questioned by some, as Callaway did not exactly have a history of success.[18] In his first season, Callaway led the Blazers to the school's worst record (2–10), dropping the program's all-time record under .500 for the first time in school history.

On November 27, 2011, Callaway was fired as UAB's head coach having compiled a record of 18 wins and 42 losses (18–42) during his five years with the Blazers.[21]

Garrick McGee era (2012–2013)[edit]

On December 4, 2011, UAB officials announced they had hired Garrick McGee to serve as the fourth head coach in the history of the program.[22] McGee was the only African American to ever be head coach at UAB. The Blazers posted a 3–9 record in McGee's first season as head coach and a 2–10 record in his second.

On January 9, 2014, it was announced that McGee would resign as UAB head coach to join Bobby Petrino as offensive coordinator at Louisville.[23]

Bill Clark era (2014–present)[edit]

In January 2014, former Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark was hired to serve as the next head coach at UAB.[24][25] In his first season as head coach of the Blazers, the team comprised a 6–6 record, its best since 2004.

On December 2, 2014, UAB president Ray Watts announced that, after commissioning an in-depth inspection of UAB's athletic budget and revenue and how the elimination of football from the athletic program would affect those, UAB had decided to close down the football program, along with the rifle and bowling programs, in order to save money. The decision was met with great outrage and criticism of Watts as well as the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.[26] The reasons given for terminating the program were that the costs of fielding a competitive football program have been rapidly escalating in recent years, that the projected cost of keeping the team competitive would be an additional $49 million over the next five years, with the costs continuing to rise in the future. An independent task force was formed to evaluate this decision and the findings of the report on which the decision was based.[27]

On June 1, 2015, news reported that the UAB Blazers football program would be reinstated.[28] Watts announced they were beginning the process to reinstate football, and would begin play as early as the 2016 season.[29] On July 21, 2015 a UAB press release was sent out stating that UAB football would return in 2017.[30][31] The NCAA informed UAB that they would return as an FBS member and will be eligible for the Conference USA championship game and a bowl game in 2017.

On August 29, 2016, UAB broke ground on a $22.5-million football operations center including a $4.2-million covered pavilion practice field with an anticipated completion date of summer 2017.

Program achievements[edit]

UAB has been a member of Conference USA since the 1999 season. For the 1991 through 1998 seasons, the Blazers were an independent in Division III (1991–92), Division I-AA (1993–95), and Division I-A (1996–98).

Bowl games[edit]

UAB has played in 1 bowl game, compiling a record of 0–1.

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
December 24, 2004 Hawaii Bowl L Hawaii 40 59
Total 1 bowl game 0–1 Total 40 59


Southern Miss[edit]

The series was first played in 2000 as UAB joined Conference USA and became conference foes with Southern Miss. The rivalry is either played in Hattiesburg, Mississippi or Birmingham. In total the two squads have met on the gridiron 15 times with Southern Miss holding a 10–5 lead in the series.

Southern Miss-UAB: All-Time Record
Games played First meeting Last meeting UAB wins UAB losses
15 November 11, 2000 (Lost 30–33 OT) November 29, 2014 (Won 45–24) 5 10

All-time record vs. CUSA teams[edit]

Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current CUSA opponents:

Opponent Won Lost Percentage Streak First Last
Charlotte 0 0
Florida Atlantic 2 4 .333 Won 1 2008 2014
FIU 1 1 .500 Lost 1 2013 2014
Louisiana Tech 0 5 .000 Lost 5 1996 2014
Marshall 2 8 .200 Lost 2 2005 2014
Middle Tennessee 2 3 .400 Lost 2 1995 2014
North Texas 2 0 1.000 Won 2 1995 2014
Old Dominion 0 0
Rice 2 3 .400 Lost 2 2005 2013
Southern Miss 5 10 .333 Won 1 2000 2014
UTEP 3 1 .750 Won 2 2005 2010
UTSA 0 1 .000 Lost 1 2013 2013
Western Kentucky 3 3 .500 Won 3 1993 2014
Totals 22 39 .361

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of December 21, 2016

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
vs Alabama A&M at Coastal Carolina at Akron vs Akron at Tulane vs Georgia Southern at Georgia Southern
at Ball State vs Tulane vs South Alabama at South Alabama
vs Coastal Carolina at Texas A&M at Tennessee
at Florida



  1. ^ "UAB - Brand Toolkit - Colors". Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  2. ^ Evans, Thayer (November 30, 2014). "Alabama-Birmingham to fire athletic director, shut down football program". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ "university-of-alabama-at-birmingham-announces-results-of-athletic-department-strategic-review". Retrieved December 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "UAB Blazers Football Program Reinstated". Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ "UAB AD says 2017 a more ideal target for football revival". Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ "C-USA announces UAB will remain a member of its conference". Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ "UAB Blazers football to resume in 2017". fox July 21, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ "UAB Football Returns with Challenging Non-Conference Schedule". Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  9. ^ Sims, Neal (August 26, 1996). "Game Week: Bowden helps put UAB on I-A map". The Birmingham News. 
  10. ^ a b 2008 UAB Football Media Guide "Important Dates In UAB Football". UAB Sports Information Department, Accessed September 21, 2008.
  11. ^ a b c 2008 UAB Football Media Guide "Year-by-Year Results". UAB Sports Information Department, Accessed September 21, 2008.
  12. ^ a b Bolton, Clyde (May 23, 1993). "UAB football scratching and clawing". The Birmingham News. 
  13. ^ Bolton, Clyde (September 10, 1993). "First game a giant step for the Blazers". The Birmingham News. 
  14. ^ Martin, Wayne (October 15, 1995). "UAB gets first win over I-A opponent". The Birmingham News. 
  15. ^ Martin, Wayne (November 9, 1995). "UAB football approved for I-A". The Birmingham News. 
  16. ^ Martin, Wayne (November 15, 1996). "Blazers football gets league ok for '99". The Birmingham News. 
  17. ^ Segrest, Doug; Steve Irvine (December 10, 2006). "Brown says decision wasn't easy: Coach resigns from UAB and takes job at Tennessee Tech". The Birmingham News. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Doyel, Gregg (December 26, 2006). "'Little Bear' Bryant crosses line again in denying UAB". Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  19. ^ Goldenberg, David (December 5, 2014). "Why UAB’s Football Team Couldn’t Even Last 20 Years". Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  20. ^ Tom Dienhart (December 17, 2006). "Report: Georgia aide gets UAB job". Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  21. ^ Schlabach, Mark (November 27, 2011). "UAB fires coach Neil Callaway". Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  22. ^ "UAB hires Garrick McGee as coach". Associated Press. December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011. 
  23. ^ "UAB's Garrick McGee to join Petrino's Louisville staff". CBS Sports. January 9, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ "UAB to hire Bill Clark". news services. January 21, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  25. ^ Champlin, Drew (December 18, 2012). "Bill Clark leaving Jacksonville State to be UAB's head football coach". Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  26. ^ Barnett, Zach (December 1, 2014). "Hundreds of UAB fans gather in hopes of saving Blazer football". Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  27. ^ Schonbrun, Zach (February 8, 2015). "After U.A.B. Program’s Death, Outcry Raises the Possibility of a Quick Resurrection". New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  28. ^ McGuire, Kevin (November 30, 2014). "Report: UAB shutting down football program". Retrieved December 2, 2014.  See also Gray, Jeremy (December 2, 2014). "It's official: UAB kills football program". Retrieved December 2, 2014. 
  29. ^ Zenor, John (June 2, 2015). "UAB to restore dropped football program for 2016 season". Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  30. ^ UAB Press release: UAB To Resume Rifle This Year, Bowling Next And Football In 2017
  31. ^
  32. ^ "UAB Blazers Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved 2017-05-10.