UAB is “taking steps to reinstate football”
UAB football is no longer dead, but it is not yet fully alive, either. School president Ray Watts, athletics director Mark Ingram and a host of others announced Monday the program has received pledges for the $17 million it needed to remove its operational deficit, but $13 million more is needed to construct facilities deemed necessary by last year’s Carr Sports Consulting report. “As of today we are taking steps to reinstate the football, bowling and rifle programs,” Watts said. But, he added, “there is still work to be done.” Watts, however, was short on specifics.
Before we get to Monday’s announcement: let’s briefly run through the last 17 months of UAB football. Following a 2-10 2013 season, and a 5-19 mark in two years, head coach Garrick McGee left for the offensive coordinator job at Louisville – reportedly acting on information he learned on the Blazers’ impending doom. Two weeks later, UAB hired Bill Clark, a longtime Alabama high school coach fresh off an 11-4 debut at Jacksonville State. Clark led the program to a 6-6 mark in 2014, far from a conference championship, but still one of the best seasons in school history.
On Nov. 5 of last season, a letter from former players emerged, voicing the group’s well-founded fear that the University of Alabama system was working to kill the program. Four controversial weeks later, the program was dead.
And now it’s alive again.
How Watts is around to make the announcement is just one of the astounding aspects of this story. The irony here, of course, is Watts and the U of A leadership made UAB football more popular in death and near death than it ever was in life. The drive to bring back the program has generated pledges from the city of Birmingham and the UAB student government and a reported $6 million in donations from Blazers supporters.
BREAKING new UAB AD Mark Ingram will form committee to raise $13-14 million to upgrade athletic facilities includes practice field
— Alan Collins (@fox6alancollins) June 1, 2015
Told fund easing goal for facilities is closer to $13-$14M not $13-$20m — Alan Collins (@fox6alancollins) June 1, 2015
The dueling irony here is that while the program has acquired a new infrastructure, putting the team in a better position to succeed than it ever was previously, the team itself has been completely depleted. Sources tell FootballScoop that the vast majority of players with offers to play elsewhere have taken those offers, meaning head coach Bill Clark will essentially take over an expansion program.
Clark is well-liked in the coaching community, and building a competitive staff will not be an issue. Fielding a competitive team will be.
If Monday’s event played like an announcement thrown together at the last minute, that’s because it was. Watts said he made the decision to revive the program “today.”
The press conference was long on buzzwords – “balanced budget” and “moving forward” were said a dozen times more than “football” – and short on details. A number of questions still abound. When will the program play again? Ingram said 2016 “may be” the target date, but that UAB will work with Conference USA and the NCAA to work through the logistics of reviving the program. “We are very pleased with the decision to bring back the football program at UAB,” C-USA said in a statement.
Where will the team play? Watts said the city of Birmingham and the Birmingham business community would work together to create a facility the Blazers could use. How quickly will the program need to raise the $13 million required for additional facilities, and what happens if those unspecified deadlines aren’t met? Check back later.
To summarize: UAB football is back. When? Hopefully soon. Who’s funding it? Donors. When do they need the money by? We’ll let you know.
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 1, 2015
And the most glaring question: why didn’t UAB do everything in its power to raise the $17 million needed before killing the program? Watts said donors came out of the woodwork that had never before donated to the program and athletics department with their checkbooks in hand. As if it was a surprise cutting a football program wouldn’t play well in Birmingham, Alabama.
Ray Watts: “We now have tangible commitments for additional financial support we didn’t have before.” Says the guy who turned down donations
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) June 1, 2015
Few specifics. Few details. No contrition or admission of guilt. Same old Ray Watts.
— Kevin Scarbinsky (@KevinScarbinsky) June 1, 2015
Essentially, in Ray Watts’ world, killing the program was just what UAB needed to save its football program. Go figure.
ESPN plans to shake up its college football studio show
Rece Davis is gone to College GameDay. Lou Holtz is gone… period. Wtih two legs of its long-standing, much-maligned trio departed, now its the perfect time for ESPN to swipe out the third and start completely over.
And according to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, the Worldwide Leader plans to do just that.
Ourand reports (linking to Awful Announcing here because the SBJ post is behind a paywall) that ESPN’s new College Football Final crew will consist of host Adnan Virk and analysts Danny Kanell and Joey Galloway. The group will handle halftime and post-game coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
Virk previously handled college football hosting duties at ESPN along with Major League Baseball and college basketball. He scored major points here last November when, filling in for Keith Olbermann on his eponymous nightly show, Virk mocked his own employer for its excessive NFL coverage. Kanell spent last season as an analyst at ABC’s New York studio alongside John Saunders and Mack Brown. He’s, sadly, made his name as the face of the SEC resistance at ESPN. Galloway has previously worked alongside Beth Mowins on ESPN2’s noon Big Ten extravaganza, and held his own against Kirk Herbstreit, David Pollack and the like during last December’s College Football Playoff reveal show.
Mike Bobo on why he took the Colorado State job: “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”
Mike Bobo has drawn breath on this earth for 41 years, and the vast majority of those breaths have pulled in Georgia air. A native of Augusta, Ga., Bobo has worn Bulldog colors nearly his entire adult life, first as a Georgia quarterback, then as a Georgia graduate assistant, then as Georgia’s quarterbacks coach, and finally as Georgia’s offensive coordinator. Until this winter, his only dalliance out of the state was a year’s stay as Jacksonville State’s quarterbacks coach.
He gave some thought to being a Georgia lifer. And then he took a job that was very much not in Georgia – as Colorado State’s head coach.
Part of taking the job was about moving himself up a rung on the professional ladder, about positioning himself to possibly do what Colorado State’s last head coach, a former SEC offensive coordinator, did and parlay the Colorado State job into an SEC job. And, as he told USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach, part of the reason he took the job was that Bobo recognized the value in change for the sake of change.
“It was more that I just kind of wanted to do something different and get out of my comfort zone,” Bobo said. “It’s not easy being a coach in the SEC or a coordinator, I’m not saying that. But it had become almost 15 years of doing the same thing at the same place. I wanted to experience something new. Did I know it would be out west in Colorado? No.
“I thought that I was becoming somewhat comfortable there at the University of Georgia. You’re there so long as a player, as a coach, you almost become part of the woodwork. I didn’t know if — we were doing different things offensively, but I didn’t know if I was growing like I should as a coach. I didn’t know if my family was growing. I think sometimes when you move — I moved around a lot in the state growing up with my dad a high school coach — and I think moving helps with growth for children, having to experience new things.”
Video of the Day: Rice Football – Helping Hands
Video of the Day
Monday June 1, 2015
Rice Football: Helping Hands
Former Packers, Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman is now a HS coach
In a three-decade career that touched both the college and pro games and spanned both coasts and practically everything in between, Mike Sherman has seen the big time. He spent six seasons as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, where he coached future Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and famously had Warren Sapp challenge him to don a certain football-related garment. Sherman then spent four seasons as the head coach at Texas A&M, coaching in opposite future Heisman Trophy winners in one of college football’s most competitive conferences and in one of the game’s most famed arenas.
His latest job is about as far as one can possibly get from all that.
Following his departure as the Miami Dolphins’ offensive coordinator at the conclusion of the 2013 season, Sherman and his family retired to Dennis, Mass., a town of 14,000 near the center of Cape Cod, a place they’d visited annually nearly his entire career. Sherman spent the 2014 season consulting for various NFL and college teams and, as many an out-of-work coach has before him, felt the itch to get on the field again, so he put a camp together at nearby Nauset High School.
Time went by and Keith Kenyon, Nauset’s athletics director, decided to step down from his post as the school’s head coach. Then he turned to a former NFL and major college head coach that happened to live in town.
“I felt after Miami I couldn’t put my family through another move. My wife Karen has put up with a lot in regard to my career and was happy to have unpacked her last box. We’ve been coming here almost every summer over the last 30-plus years as a family so we felt this was a natural fit for us to call Cape Cod home,” Sherman told the Cape Cod Times. “It took me a while to pull the trigger. It hasn’t been an easy decision because I wanted to make sure I was all 100 percent in. The kids deserve that from their coach. I’ve loved coaching in the NFL and college for the last 33 years, but I am definitely looking forward to working with the kids at Nauset.”
The unlikely revival of Sherman’s career provides a nice final chapter for him – enjoying the fruits of his labor in one of America’s most picturesque locales, coaching purely for the enjoyment of it – and a nice turn of fortune for Nauset’s players.
“Maybe we don’t have a Pro Bowl player at QB, but there is a good chance our opponent isn’t defending with a Pro Bowl cornerback, either,” said Sherman. “We’ll adjust to wherever our talent leads us. If we can run it, we’ll run it. If we can throw it, we’ll throw it. If we can do both, we will.”
Note from FootballScoop> The letter that Mike Sherman sent to all Texas High School coaches when he was leaving Texas A&M was pure class and an absolute must read.