UAB may have terminated the football program after the 2014 season, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be Blazer football played this spring.
Despite the controversial decision to shut the program down, former UAB players will be getting together this Saturday for an alumni flag football game at Legion Field. Head coach Bill Clark started the alumni game last year and former players, alumni, and UAB supporters are putting the game on again this spring.
There are 120 former Blazers — including current Carolina Panthers Joe Webb and Darrin Reaves — expected to attend the event on Saturday, and while it’s a chance to get them all together and give Birmingham at least one football game this year they also have an ulterior motive.
Former UAB kicker Lee Miller told the Associated Press that there is still hope to try and revive the program.
“Obviously there’s a huge, somber cloud hanging over the university, really, over the whole football issue right now,” said Miller, now a high school soccer coach. “I think the vibe toward this event is positive, but there’s always this undercurrent. The next question is, ‘How can we get the program back?’ There’s a lot of people out there, including me, that are trying to make that happen.”
The support for UAB football has been strong since the news came out that the program was going to be shut down, and former players and alumni are still fighting to get football back at the school. Cancelling the program has been heavily scrutinized, and the Alabama Board of Governors have been accused of shutting it down for personal reasons.
The reaction from those connected to the program was one of shock and sadness, and the video of UAB players ripping into the school’s president went viral.
“It’s grief,” said former player Josh Evans. “I still can’t believe it’s over with. I never would have thought this would happen. I always thought it would get better. I’m still in complete shock.”
UAB won six games in 2014 and appeared to be a program that was coming back to life after years of struggles. 40 of the UAB players that still had eligibility left have been able to find transfers to other schools, and the support at the game from former players will be very strong.
The fight to bring UAB football back is still raging on, with faculty and student groups filing votes of no-confidence against president Ray Watts and there is a task force in place to re-evaluate the decision to shut the program down. Hopefully this game can show the support UAB football has from alumni and the community and help move forward the movement to get the program started again.