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UAB Spring Football Week: How UAB Blazer Football Got Where It Is

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We begin our run-up to the spring game by talking about the history of the football program, and the strife between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

Curt Posey, a University of Alabama at Birmingham alumnus who is one of the more outspoken and articulate gentlemen I had the pleasure of exchanging communication with leading up to all the content you are going to read this week, was kind enough to share with me a bit of an oversight of the history behind this clashing of styles between UAB and the "mothership" in Tuscaloosa. Here's Curt, in his own words.

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Here is brief synopsis of the battle that has been waged since the early days of the Birmingham Campus:

In 1978, Bill Baxley (a University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa alum) and Fob James (an Aburn university alum) were in a tight race to become the governor of Alabama.  Very few Auburn alums have held the seat (for some strange reason) and James was winning the race.

The biggest issue on James' platform was higher education funding/spending.  James wanted to make funding equal for all state universities by creating a state board of higher education.  As you can imagine, Baxley and his supporters were against this.

James won the election and tried to implement his master plan.  The plan would give each university its own board of trustees that would then answer to the state oversight board. The University of Alabama Board of Trustees (UABoT) responded in 1980 by issuing a statement that "defined" the system's universities.

The statement said that the University of Alabama is the flagship university of the system.  The statement set UAB and UAH as "urban universities" that would offer night classes, etc. to those looking to further their education in these urban centers.

UAB began to challenge this role almost immediately.

They petitioned the board for the permission to secure federal grants for the construction of dorms.  The UABoT declined the petition and UAB took it to the state.  The state house approved the petition and UAB was allowed to build dorms.

Meanwhile, James began to attack the makeup of the board.  The UA board is the only board that can self appoint its members due to a loophole in the state's constitution (written in 1901).  James attacked the racial makeup of the board, number of members, etc.  During the battle, Baxley said to a reporter that Bear Bryant told him to make sure that the board was always stacked with folks who favored UA.

As the years went by, the makeup of the board continued to come into question.  UAB continued to grow, but the board continued to push for all things UA.  In 1987, UAB started looking into football as both Auburn and Alabama began to pull "home" games from Birmingham.  As you would expect, the UABoT was against football, but UAB went ahead with the plans in 1988.

Fast forward to 2002. The UABoT comes to UAB and threatens to shut the program down over finances that are eerily similar to the Carr report.  Long story short, UAB works their way through this, but there is something that happens during this time that is directly linked to the closure of the program.

In 2003, the UABoT voted unanimously to create the Crimson Tide Foundation, who's sole mission was to raise money and awareness for the ALabama athletic program.

The board did not propose nor vote on a foundation for UAB or UAH, despite the "put up or shut up" push against UAB one year prior to this action.  It is difficult for me to believe that we would be in this situation today if UAB had an athletics foundation, especially considering the $4-5 million dollars per year that has been pledged should the program return in 2016.

Add to this list the "resignation" of two presidents that pushed for undergraduate growth, and a trustee who vocally opposes every advancement that UAB proposes and you have the real story. The press in this state are afraid to touch a lot of this due to the power and influence of the men on the board.

#FreeUAB

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So there you have it. A long-standing history of an inexplicable desire for superiority and a steadfast pursuit of equality, which have led us to what feels an awful lot like a tipping point. Hopefully in the coming weeks and months it will tip in the right direction, because it has't headed in a positive direction prior to this year. Thanks again to Curt for his contributions to the series.