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#theReturn has UAB trending up

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The money is there. The support is really there. Now everything else has to fall in place to make UAB a premier job in CUSA.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

UAB football is back! Well actually, almost back. After what will be a brief two-year hiatus, once the 2016 football season concludes - which I'm sure will feel like an eternity to the city of Birmingham - UAB football will return to the sidelines in 2017.

The efforts to dismantle the football program has galvanized the Birmingham community to support the program like never before and on the way, has earned the school supporters nationwide.

One could make the argument that the state of the football program is in a much better position than they were ever in before being shelved as there has never been this much hype surrounding the program.

But what does the program look like after #theReturn? Does it fall back into the shadows casted by Alabama and Auburn? Does Ray Watts really want the program to succeed? And what about those facilities?

Suffice it to say, there are a lot of questions about this job that won't be answered anytime soon.

PROS

  • Alabama isn't Florida or Texas when it comes to producing football players, but the state is no slouch. There is enough talent for UAB to thrive even with the inclusion of South Alabama. Last year there was a study that ranked The Yellowhammer State twelfth when it comes to producing FBS talent per program.
  • Support is at an all-time high. From the UAB alumni to the locals in the city of Birmingham.
  • Downtown Birmingham is beautiful and it is growing. It's not Miami but it certainly isn't Ruston either. Getting recruits to Birmingham shouldn't be an issue.
  • An influx of money, including the funds behind new facilities, are on the way and are continuing to roll in.

CONS

  • Legion Field isn't going to cut it. It is the worst stadium in CUSA, if not all of CFB, and it's not even close. They need an on-campus stadium badly, but really any other location would be an upgrade. Talks about being a tenant in a multi-use stadium nearby are still just talks for now.
  • Alabama loves their college football but until recently, they have only cared for Alabama and Auburn. Those two monolith-like programs will always make UAB at best a distant third...
  • Or maybe worst. When UAB football was canceled a ton of their players went to Mobile and played for Sun Belt Conference member South Alabama. The football program is still young but now that they are in the FBS South Alabama - along with Troy - will be extra competition for UAB, who have still yet to make a name for themselves in the state.
  • UAB has been in CUSA for 16 years and have zero conference titles with just one bowl game appearance. There is no winning tradition.
  • Ray Watts is still there.

Making the case for why UAB should be higher: Nicolas Lewis, Managing Editor

Actually, I don't think UAB can really be ranked a whole lot higher because while a shift away from all of the negativity and failure of recent past is a positive for the program, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding just how far back UAB football will come, and there is definitely some amount of support (emotional and financial) being withheld until that bears itself out a bit further.

Any argument towards ranking them higher would be very homer-ish and based purely on speculation and potential. With Bill Clark as the head coach they are far more likely to actually achieve that potential, but I don't think it would be fair to give them a boost based on something they haven't done yet, even if I think they are very likely to do it.

If you're playing NCAA Football in an online dynasty...

Well, would they actually be in the game? Being that they won't play this season and didn't play last season I don't think they would be. Of course, we'll probably never know being that the NCAA won't let EA Sports make the games anymore. That said, you probably choose UAB so that you can start everything over from scratch and make your program as you'd like. Because you're the kid who likes playing Madden in GM mode.

If you choose this job in real life...

You need to have a thick skin. Some folks in the state think your program shouldn't exist. There won't be any quick fixes here. Just be endearing to the Birmingham community, don't take any short cuts and patience will be displayed. Your office won't be fancy in the slightest but you could watch game film in a garage if need be so you won't mind.

In your eyes this job is a legacy builder. If you start winning on a consistent basis you will go down as the first in UAB history do so. Just don't expect Alabama to offer you a job down the road no matter what your resume looks like.

Verdict

When Garrick McGee left UAB in order to be the offensive coordinator at Louisville the perception of UAB football took a major hit. McGee left not only because he would be paid more, but because he realized how bad the financial situation was at UAB as it relates to upgrading facilities and running a football program.

That shouldn't be a problem anymore. Money is coming in fast to revive the facilities and put it on par with the rest of CUSA. But the program still has to play games in Legion Field and still has to carve out an identity in a state that really, really, cares about two schools 24/7/365.

A winning tradition can be built here but its going to take patience, time and support. Unlike the other schools on the list, support shouldn't be an issue which is why they are here and not lower.

Best jobs in CUSA Countdown:

14. Rice

13. Charlotte

12. MTSU

11. FIU

10. UAB