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UAB Football Upheaval Hits Close to Home For Me

Losing UAB football means more than X's and O's to me.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to attending Christian Brothers University in Memphis, I was a student at a small private school in Memphis known as Crichton College, located a mile and a half from the University of Memphis.

Despite having a small athletic budget, the school's basketball program and, to a lesser extent, the baseball program, enjoyed a great deal of success. In fact, the year before I arrived at the school, the basketball team reached the Elite Eight of the 2007 NAIA Basketball Tournament  in only its second year of existence. This was a year after winning the Trans South Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships.

Three years before, the baseball program at Crichton had won the NCCAA championship, marking the second time in three years a Memphis-area school won a national championship of any kind - the other being my alma mater winning a national championship in women's soccer.

What I didn't know was that despite the school preaching the message of diversity as well as student life, it was always faced with the threat of closing because of money woes, which affected the day program that I was a part of as well as the student-athletes that attended Crichton. And while nothing like that came up during my first year at the school, what would eventually become my final year at the school was a different story.

After being fired as the student manager for the basketball program two weeks prior to Christmas in 2008, I took a trip to Atlanta for a church conference and also the annual Peach Bowl where the LSU Tigers would face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

At one point during the Tigers' blowout, I received a flurry of text messages from people in Memphis, asking me whether or not was Crichton closing.

"I don't know," I replied.

Three weeks later word got out to the media that Crichton College was in fact closing.

The next day, our school president delivered the death blow in a packed chapel service, announcing that not only the school was closing, but the athletic programs would also cease to exist.

Months later, one of my friends, former Crichton volleyball player Kiunda Edwards, had this to say about what happened at the school.

"We were one big happy family and they broke us up."

I thought about that Sunday afternoon as word got out that UAB, who was fresh off of clinching bowl eligibility with a win over the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg, was potentially planning to fire athletic director Brian Mackin and follow that up with shutting down the football program.

Much like the people at Crichton, many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day, the players at UAB view each other not only as teammates, but as family. These guys train together, suffer together, cry together, celebrate together, and more importantly, love together.

And just like what happened with my friends and I five years ago, that one big happy family is getting close to being splintered.