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Welcome to UAB Spring Game Week

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We will be spending plenty of time painting a picture of the University of Alabama system, Birmingham, and all of the interrelated parts that got us where we are. Plus, we let those who support the program share their own voices on the topic.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It's very nearly here.

We are less than a week away from the Spring Alumni Flag Football Game at UAB, and you may or may not have noticed that lately our coverage of UAB and everything going on there has increased ever so slightly.

That's because we are all in. We cover what is currently relevant, and what you tell us you want to read by our analysis of site metrics. And since UAB and all of the administration there just keep on... well, UABeing ridiculous, we have no choice but to keep covering it.

That said, as we begin to focus our coverage of UAB on the spring game that Dan Harralson and others put together, I wanted to give those who are now forced to pull double duty as UAB athletics supporters and skeptics of their own administrators an opportunity to speak their piece when it comes to this ongoing drama.

I don't know a ton about writing, but I do know that while it is important to cover this situation well and share our own thoughts, it is even more important to let those most affected by it to just share their own unfiltered thoughts. If we're not fully by and for the fans now, then when?

Without further ado, a pair of introductory statements.

"One of the most ironic parts of the story, and the funniest, is that the push to create an athletic program at UAB was started by the deans of the medical school. They felt that more student life was critical for the success of the university as a whole. So they pushed Dr. Hill into doing something.

Hill contacted a couple of the trustees as well as the Chancellor (Dr. Volker, past president of UAB), and they were all on board with it, but all three told him to talk to Bear Bryant first. Hill felt that as a doctor and president of a University that had nothing to do directly with Bryant, there was no need to go kiss the man's butt.

He hired Bartow to come in as a consultant and set up a plan to start it. They had done the same thing with Kirkland a decade before, and like they did with Kirkland, they point blank asked "Ok, you set up the plan {for an athletic department in Bartow's case and a major transplant and research center for Kirkland}. How much will it cost us to hire you and make it your baby in every way?"

Bartow took the job. Bryant was livid. Along the way, someone gave Bryant the understanding that it would only be a "piddly little D-2 program" when that was never the case.

Once the truth became clear, Bryant sent word to Bartow that he needed to drive down to Tuscaloosa to discuss what was going on. Bartow sent word back that he was too busy. Bryant then contacted Bartow personally and demanded that he come to Tuscaloosa, and Bartow refused. Much like Dr. Hill, Bartow saw no reason to kiss the butt of the coach from another school. He did inform Bryant that he would be glad to meet him in Birmingham in his office, though.

The blood was bad before the first ball was put into play.


After the three remaining schools re-organized into three autonomous universities, the Board decided to create a Chancellor position, essentially someone between the schools and the BoT, to help with administration and so on.


That first one was Volker. He was the one who first pushed for UAB to become a major player and who got Kirkland to come in to help with that. Because of his ties with Birmingham, and his role as UAB president before he was Chancellor, from 1969 on there was a major fear that UAB would surpass UA as the focal point of the system.


That is what led to Bryant (who needed to keep his lock on Birmingham recruiting and, more importantly, money since B'Ham was the banking capitol of the Southeast) to start pushing for more Tuscaloosa control, and the entire Baxley event."

~~Ralph Harbison, Mr. UAB 1994

And then a little bit more...

"You have to realize that UAB is not an old school. The football team even younger.


The only reason UAB is not deemed a success is because it gets compared to Alabama and Auburn. UAB was never given the chance to even let the board vote on a very small, modest 27,500 seat on campus stadium. They averaged 22,000 +/- last year in an off-campus stadium that is old, too large and in a crime-riddled area of town.


UAB had most (I believe 27 out 40) of the box suites pre-sold before the Board of Trustees even voted on allowing the stadium. It's very difficult to even get pledges for something like that when it is still just a hypothetical project. UAB should be back by 2016. If not, then someone should start a criminal investigation. It should have already started. Sure, some schools do athletics without football. But not in this part of the country. A travel budget outside of CUSA would be astronomical.


Football didn't exist at UAB when I started there. It takes decades to build a following - to have generation after generation of families who follow a team. UAB was In a building mode. One bad season for Bama that coincided with a good season for UAB and everyone would have seen why the BoT did what they did to UAB football.


Plus, most of the people who graduated from UAB are just now getting to a financial position to have disposable income. I turned 44 recently. From now until I am 70 is about the age donors start giving to programs.


Furthermore, please read the letter from the Champions Club that was signed by 12 major donors. Craft Oneal runs a multi-billion-dollar company, but wasn't asked for any additional donations after giving money for years. What about Barney Ireland, who like Don and Marsha Hire, has previously given so much money that they have their names on buildings all over campus? They were not asked for donations."


~~ Shannon Johnson, UAB Alum and business owner

We will talk more in coming days about other aspects of this UAB universe that give a much clearer picture of what exactly is going on. Keep checking back in for a little more info, and a little more from supporters, each day.