When you think about the decision UAB made to discontinue their football program, it affects UAB, the City of Birmingham, all students and their families. Unquestionably, this was a difficult decision.
Did the administration handle the process properly? The answer is yes and no. Did UAB contact the City to discuss the contributions they could make? Did UAB have a conversation with the coaches and players prior to closing the program down? Did UAB have a serious conversation with the alumni who has historically given to the institution for various reasons? If the answer to these basic, simple questions is no, then the University made a terrible decision because they did not follow a process of informing all parties concerned regarding the decision they made or planned to make. They did not consider how this decision would affect the coaches, players, students and parents.
Down through the years I have written many articles regarding UAB’s football. Part of that story was this program would be successful if they would meet with the City and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, business leaders, the builders of Region’s Park, to build a multipurpose facility where they could play soccer, basketball, football and all other activities relating to sports. I do believe if this had happened its program could have been successful.
It’s humanly impossible to compare UAB football with the University of Alabama’s football program. The University of Alabama’s television revenue is $100 million or more each year, attracting a crowd of at least 100,000 people. Revenue to the City of Tuscaloosa is $10 million or more. Revenue to the merchants is $5 million each game.
When you consider that every time UAB plays at Legion Field on Saturday, the media starts making statements like “chain your car to a tree, your tires will be slashed, or there’s a strong possibility that you will be robbed.” All of this is far from the truth. The same people criticizing UAB for closing the program are the same group of people who criticized UAB for playing at Legion Field.
It is too late for UAB to rescind their decision. It will be very difficult to get a competent coach, and equally difficult to recruit good players. UAB was in the process of increasing their student enrollment to 25,000; with the decision to cancel the football program, it will be a certainty that student enrollment will decrease. The President of UAB, Dr. Watts, tenure may not survive
Whatever the decision the committee makes in choosing the Top Four teams in the country, one of these teams will be the National Champions. Their decision will ignite serious conversation and come under serious scrutiny. Half the people will agree they got the first four teams right: Alabama No. 1, Oregon No. 2, Florida No. 3, and Ohio State No. 4. The other half will disagree. I am one who disagrees. I happen to think that Baylor should have been chosen instead of Ohio State for No. 4.
Alabama got a good break. There are three teams they do not want to play at this time: Oregon, TCU and Baylor. I predict that Alabama will beat Ohio State, Oregon will beat Florida, and Alabama will play Oregon for the National Championship. I hope I’m wrong.