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UAB Spring Game Week: Is the Alabama University System Broken?

We continue our run-up to the spring game by talking to some of UAB football's most fervent supporters about what they think is really going on in Birmingham.

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To me it would seem that if university administrators truly did their due diligence in analyzing the problem, all of its potential causes, and all of its potential solutions before selecting a course of action, then there would not be literally dozens of people - most of whom know less about running a university  or an athletics department than the administrators do - coming out within weeks of the decision and driving MAC truck sized holes in the logic used to reach that decision.

Underdog Dynasty - Does that happening prove the administrators' incompetence, apathy, both or neither?

Greg Owen - I believe the following:

  • Ending UAB Football was premeditated, since no opponents were scheduled beyond 2016.
  • The scope of the Carr Report was modified so that it could be used as a tool to eliminate football.
  • All of the numbers in the Carr report were based on a season with record low attendance due to a team that produced a 2-10 record.
  • The Board of Trustees and Ray Watts underestimated the support for UAB Football.

I do not believe that Ray Watts is incompetent.  I believe he was asked by the Board of Trustees to give UAB Football the death penalty, and they accomplished their goal.  The damage is done, even if football is restored; the football program was set back 24 years in one day.  The UAB Football Foundation stated they could raise enough money to pay for football, but Watts refused to meet with them.  He lied and said the UAB Football Foundation could not raise enough money to support, but he refused to meet with members of the foundation.

Albert Turner - Neither.  They are not incompetent.  They just misjudged their power and influence this time. Plus, when this BOT has been this way before working against UAB, social media was not around.  This time, social media was able to counteract their lies, distortions and obfuscation in minutes.  On past actions by this BOT, it took us days and sometimes weeks to get our message out and by that time it was too late to correct the abuses.

Shannon Johnson - I think you hit the nail on the head. This board is not elected and its self appointing. Hence, they can't be held accountable. Maybe someone with the press will put enough information out there that they are compelled to answer. If I were in the media and wanted to make a name for myself, I would keep working until I broke this story. As I stated, I am an Alabama football fan and a UAB graduate in Financial Management, but what they have done to UAB and the people who started this program,.. It's unthinkable.

I feel so sorry for all the people that bought into this program and have spent 20 years trying to turn the corner without any support from the board of trustees. The only reason there's not more outrage around here is because UAB couldn't fill Legion Field. The BoT knew the way it would come off to the public. That was one of the reasons they wouldn't approve the modest on-campus stadium.

What could they have said then? Add to that the Birmingham Barons just moved from Hoover back to downtown (a few blocks from where that stadium was proposed by UAB supporters) and Regions Park has far exceeded any expectations.

I didn't even think it would work downtown. They had over 400,000 in attendance last year in the second year at the park. Growth all around the park. Construction cranes can be seen easily from the interstate. All of this plus UAB turning the corner on the field last year and having a 120% increase in attendance and the BoT knew the perfect storm was on the horizon.

Ralph Harbison - The catch here is that in April of 2014, someone ordered Carr to rush the report. We do not know who ordered it or why, but they were ordered to present what they had by the end of October. Further, Carr has stated that the parameters were only to show the extermination of football and no other considerations, such as keeping football, investing more into football (what ODU and Rice were told to do), or changing from to FCS.

Reports like this always give the answer to the initial question. Had the question been "What is the best course of action for UAB's athletic's department?" the answer would have been presented in a long report covering every possible scenario. This was a designed hit.

The answer is that, yes, both incompetence and apathy are factors, but not the only ones. Watts had a poor showing as dean of the medical school. He has a poor showing now. He tried to end the Honors Program exactly the same way in 2013, a program that has produced every Rhodes, Truman and Fulbright Scholar that UAB has ever had.

He was stopped, he promised more open workings and shared governance, then he called the honors program kids a bunch of "elitists." The fact is that Watt's predates UAB athletics, and based on where he grew up, he is/was a "The three greatest men in history were Bear Bryant, Jesus Christ, and Robert E Lee, in that order" kind of guy.

He never would have seen the need or felt the love that all Blazers have for the sports programs that we have. He is also a "all we need is the medical side of campus" guy, who sees everyone else as peons and twerps.

As with the rest of this series, thank you to all who participated, your input was vital to making the content happen.