“I would be foolish if I weren’t concerned.”

As closing the barn door after the horse is seen in the next county-type decisions go, this one’s first-rate:

Facing intense scrutiny from his faculty, University of Alabama at Birmingham president Ray Watts announced Friday an independent reexamination of financial figures from a study used to justify the elimination of the football, bowling and rifling programs.

CBSSports.com found several discrepancies in the full report produced by consultant Bill Carr. Watts, who would not discuss specifics about the report, said at a news conference he still believes the initial study’s data is as accurate as when he eliminated football last month.

So he’s going to study a study that he still thinks is right.  And in the end, what difference will it make if the same people on UAB’s Board of Trustees still have to be mollified?

Bill Clark was selected as UAB’s coach and led the Blazers to bowl eligibility for the first time in 10 years. Mackin said on the recordings that he initially favored hiring South Alabama coach Joey Jones, a former Crimson Tide player, in part because of his relationship with Bryant.

“So Paul Jr. is probably a fan of his,” Mackin said on the recording. “But Paul Jr. does nothing for me. We’ve just got to tolerate him. No coach is going to make him change his position on UAB football.”

He’s UAB’s Mr. Potter.  And Bryant’s not the only one.

After a local business owner pledged money last spring to pay for the installation of artificial turf on one of UAB’s football practice fields, UA System trustee Finis St. John shot down the plan, according to two UAB boosters.

The money was part of a $1 million pledge.

I’d call it a mess, except guys like Bryant and St. John are getting exactly what they want.  That sounds more like a plan to me.  Tough luck for UAB supporters.  Maybe they’ll be interested in buying Alabama season tickets now.


Filed under Whoa, oh, Alabama

19 responses to ““I would be foolish if I weren’t concerned.”

  1. McTyre

    Vintage state government chicanery in the republic of Alabamastan …


  2. Bright Idea

    Bryant, Jr. and those trustees choked that program long enough for it to finally croak. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy and a lot of folks got used along the way.


  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    “This is about investing and reinvesting in sustained excellence, and cultivating programs where we can win.”

    As opposed to investing and reinvesting…in programs where we can’t win, like football.

    All the number crunching and “independent” studies aside, it sounds to me that UAB simply lacked the institutional will to support a football program with a marginal chance of fielding a winning team.

    UAB has one of the better medical schools in the country, has produced physicians in relatively large numbers for many years. In spite of the angst from some faculty and some in the wider community, if UAB can’t inspire enough in contributions from this and other segments of its alumni base it would seem to me dropping football is the only rational course.

    Too bad so much bullshit got injected into the information stream.


    • Did you take the time to read the linked articles? The alumni have been willing to contribute. And there are strong indications that the study used to justify the termination of the football program was flawed.

      UAB’s president isn’t backtracking because too much bullshit got injected into the information stream. He’s paying the price for accommodating the trustees who are opposed to the existence of UAB’s football program.


      • Scorpio Jones, III

        The quote comes from the linked articles, and the bullshit I referred to is the flawed study…maybe I did not make that clear.

        I lived close to Birmingham for 15 (glorious) years and I am well aware of the reported friction about UAB’s football program. (Bryant fought pro football in Birmingham, too)

        I am not saying your assessment is wrong, or even different, but if the administration was convinced the football program could not win it would seem to me to be right to shut it down. If the program can’t win, which seems obvious, what’s the point?

        Although Vandy would seem to differ, despite Gordon’s Gee’s efforts to shut their program down.


        • By all accounts, Clark did a great job this year. Wasn’t UAB bowl-eligible before the program was shut down?


          • Scorpio Jones, III

            I believe that is the case. Although great is relative.

            “This is about investing and reinvesting in sustained excellence, and cultivating programs where we can win,” UAB vice president for financial affairs and administrator Allen Bolton.

            After reading what Gaskill has to say below, and in spite of the quote above that, to me anyway, indicates some lack of conviction by the administration.

            Maybe UAB WAS dumb to drop football.

            Do we have to give them their linebacker back?


            • Scorpio Jones, III

              What I am saying is that given my sensitivity to “institutional will” maybe I was distracted by the quote. 😦


            • Charles

              One data point that hasn’t been injected into the discussion at all: http://sweethomepolitics.com/youll-never-guess-who-just-bought-half-of-uabs-football-tickets/

              “UAB averaged 11,587 fans in 2013, meaning that the bloc of tickets that Birmingham bought from UAB makes up nearly half of the school’s attendance. Let that sink in, almost half of UAB’s attendance are free tickets handed out by the city council and mayor. If all those free tickets are actually taken up that means that only an average of 6,587 people bought tickets to UAB football games last year.”

              The city does this, of course, so that UAB can stay over the season ticket sales threshold for bowl division eligibility.

              Folks have every right to quibble over the cost forecasts in the study. UAB is a public institution after all. And I hope this reevaluation will give everyone a little more clarity. But, at the end of the day, most everyone with the exception of (a) sportswriters and (b) a handful UAB boosters and (c) virulent, conspiracy-theorists (i.e. Auburn fans) will remain indifferent to UAB football.

              What’s the cost of indifference? I guess we’ll get to wait for another audit to find out.


    • I understand your point, and it was well stated. The contrary position is that we are moving into a new era where television money and conference money are the more significant sources of support to mid-major programs than contributions and ticket sales.

      Without football UAB cannot remain in C-USA. It will lose a share of CFP playoff money. It will have to find another conference for its only revenue creating sport, men’s basketball. If it has to go to a basketball and Olympic sports only conference, such as Big East, it will not get as large conference revenue sharing checks, and will not get a share of other conference members bowl checks. It will not get a share of its conference television money.

      It could be walking away from outside money that could sustain not only football but help sustain the sports UAB retains. It also risks a small reduction in enrollment from male students who wish to attend a school with a football team, losing those kids’ tuition, dorm and dining hall money.

      If this was 1965 and UAB had to fund football through school money, tickets, and contributions it makes sense to jettison it. I understand why 2015 reality would dictate a different result.

      By the way, UAB would not have to be good to share conference and CFP money. Vandy’s share of both is not far from Alabama’s share and is why Vandy’s would never scuttle football.


      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Well-put…I have to tell you the quote I picked out of the linked article(s) really caught my attention.

        Based on what you write, if the money works, they were, in fact, dumb to drop football as would Vandy be.

        There is no doubt the public perception in Birmingham and environs is that Paul Bryant, Jr. is dead set against UAB football and has been from the beginning for any number of reasons, and he is almost solely responsible for UAB dropping the sport.

        Whether this is true I have no idea. Nor do I have any idea why he would have any rational reason to be so opposed to UAB football, really makes no rational sense.

        But pushing Gene Stallings out of Tuscaloosa made no sense either.


  4. This is what happens when you let a trustee on your board with a clear conflict of interest and an ax to grind. When the trustees spike a $1m investment in the football program, that should tell you something. This situation would be just like if a powerful Georgia alum did the same thing at Georgia Southern. The Eagles’ football program will never challenge UGA for supremacy just like UAB with Alabama.

    On the bright side, hopefully, Ganus can help us beat the Tide next season in Athens.


  5. Who’s been to Legion Field? Raise your hand. If you have, you know.


  6. It’s all part of the process.

    Next up is that engineering school in lower Alabama. They always seem to be asking for money…


  7. Cousin Eddie

    What was baby Bryant’s hard on for shutting down UAB’s program? Did he think it might threaten ua’s program popularity, really?


    • Bear Bryant was adamant about Alabama being the “hometown” team in the State’s largest and most influential city. That is why he insisted on scheduling the majority of his home games in Birmingham.