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Football: Effect of UAB football reinstatement

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Football: Effect of UAB football reinstatement

[ Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor ] Lucky Whitehead scored two touchdowns in the Owl' 31-28 loss to UAB on Nov. 1, 2014.

[ Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor ] Lucky Whitehead scored two touchdowns in the Owl' 31-28 loss to UAB on Nov. 1, 2014.

[ Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor ] Lucky Whitehead scored two touchdowns in the Owl' 31-28 loss to UAB on Nov. 1, 2014.

[ Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor ] Lucky Whitehead scored two touchdowns in the Owl' 31-28 loss to UAB on Nov. 1, 2014.

Ryan Lynch, Staff Writer

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After originally voting to disband the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers’ football program at the end of last season, the Board of Trustees for the state university system voted earlier this month to reinstate football in 2016.

The local community rallied behind the team; $17.2 million in donations was raised by Birmingham business leaders and the UAB Football Foundation.

But the reinstatement leaves more questions than answers for all programs involved, including that of Florida Atlantic University.

The Owls have had a history with the Blazers since they first started playing Football Bowl Subdivision football in 2004. Both programs eventually found their way into Conference USA at separate times.

With a season before Blazer football can get off the ground again, we take a look at the past, present, and future effects of UAB on the Owls.

UAB would not be in C-USA if they had completely abandoned football

It was almost guaranteed that if UAB had completely gotten rid of football, Conference USA would have forced the school to leave for another conference.

“It’s been clear that our folks aren’t interested in changing our bylaws to permit members who don’t have football,” Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in an interview with AL.com on May 29.

Banowsky continued: “Relative to UAB and the possibility of them not starting it back, we appreciate how volatile conference membership change would be and have the interest of the coaches and student-athletes in mind when we consider a reasonable length of time for transition, which would probably be one year.”

The Blazers have been in Conference USA since 1995, originally moving into the conference as a non-football member. UAB is the longest lasting member of the conference, along with the University of Southern Mississippi (also joined in 1995). But without football, none of that would matter.

The Blazers would lose out on their football revenues, which was about $7.2 million. Not included in that picture are bowl-game winnings, which are doled out to all teams equally over a six-year span.

Basketball is the sport would have suffered the most. UAB has been one of the top teams in C-USA, with five NCAA tournament appearances. In the last NCAA Tournament, they got to the round of 32 as a 14-seed, after beating the three-seed Iowa State Cyclones.

UAB would lose out on larger tournament bonuses if they left, as they would have probably had to move to a smaller, non-football conference.

There is money to be made for a mid-major. According to Forbes, Conference USA made $10.5 million in 2014 from both bowl games and NCAA tournament, good for ninth in value out of all conferences.

Without that, the school would need more subsidies and loans to feed their $27 million athletic budget. That’s not a favorable situation for UAB, as a university or an athletic program.

The only question that remains: Will it last? The Blazers have the money and momentum, but without fans, the reinstatement won’t last long. The Board is not likely to be lenient to the Blazers after situation made them look like villains, and a failure with the second chance would not make anyone happy, and probably hurt the reputation of the Board of Trustees.

It’s sink or swim time for the Blazers, who now need the city of Birmingham to put their physical support in the team, not just their wallets. Empty stadiums don’t keep teams alive, and UAB will have to keep fighting Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide for support, too.

What this means for FAU:

In football, the Owls have played six games against UAB in the history of the two programs, with the Owls winning four of the six by an average margin of 8.25 points.

The UNC-Charlotte 49ers will take UAB’s spot, leaving the amount of teams in the east division at seven and the total number of teams at 13. While the numbers don’t suffer, the conference schedule does. The 49ers have not played an FBS team in their history, so expect a rude awakening come fall.

A weaker conference only helps the Owls in the present, but a strong conference is necessary to get a better ranking and make more money from the bowl season.
In the bigger picture, UAB will still participate against FAU in all their sponsored sports and UAB football will need a few years before it is competitive again. But, things will get back to the status quo after that, and the conference will be stronger.

11 Comments

11 Responses to “Football: Effect of UAB football reinstatement”

  1. Bob Markey II on June 21st, 2015 11:50 pm

    Uh, UAB is not yet fighting Alabama and Auburn for legitimacy. Before doing that, it would have to surpass Troy (and possibly event USA) for the No. 3 (and 4) spot in Alabama. Troy has USB beaten in just about every category, from fan support, to stadium and facilities, to wins over one another, to bowl appearances, to tradition and media coverage (Troy has a statewide radio network, while USB has a station or two).

  2. dtt30 on June 22nd, 2015 2:01 am

    Troy attendance in 2014 = around 16,700 fans per game.
    USA attendance in 2014 = a bit over 17,000 after hosting Miss. State.
    UAB attendance in 2014 = a bit over 21,000

    Troy Ticket sales for the entire athletic department in 2014 = $463,063 according to USA Today Sports Finance. That’s the entire athletic department. That’s difficult to say with a straight face. Troy is busy trying to not get passed by JSU for 5th in the state…though even JSU generated more revenue from ticket sales in 2014 and they’re not even FBS.

  3. dtt30 on June 22nd, 2015 2:03 am

    Troy’s attendance was one of the worst in the state just last year with under 17,000 fans per game.

    Troy Ticket sales for the entire athletic department in 2014 = $463,063 according to USA Today Sports Finance. That’s the entire athletic department. That’s difficult to say with a straight face. Troy is busy trying to not get passed by JSU for 5th in the state…though even JSU generated more revenue from ticket sales in 2014 and they’re not even FBS.

  4. UAB Slant on June 22nd, 2015 1:00 am

    Wow Bob Markey, that 48-10 beating UAB laid on Troy in 2014 really took a toll on your ego. That was with no facilities in front of a crowd larger than Troy had all season. And, thanks to C-USA media agreements, we had almost every game televised nationally or regionally. But hey, folks in Remlap & Pine Level could listen to Troy on the radio, so you got UAB beat there.

  5. Bob Markey II on June 22nd, 2015 7:21 am

    USB has no stadium and manufactured attendance figures. Troy has more fans in the stands bat each game than UAB and draws almost as many people in Birmingham than UAB does. Troy is clearly more popular in Alabama than UAB.

  6. Bob Markey II on June 22nd, 2015 7:22 am

    UAB has no stadium and manufactured attendance figures. Troy has more fans in the stands bat each game than UAB and draws almost as many people in Birmingham than UAB does. Troy is clearly more popular in Alabama than UAB.

  7. William Kennedy on June 22nd, 2015 8:27 am

    Fiction. Complete and total fiction.

  8. Cornelius Ratcliff on June 22nd, 2015 12:36 pm
  9. UAB Slant on June 22nd, 2015 3:50 pm

    UAB and USA don’t have their own stadiums, but they both beat Troy and reported better attendance than the Trojans in 2014.
    Abilene Christian borrows a high school field to play its games, but managed to beat Troy as well.
    Considering the long history of Troy and its football program, the juvenile football programs that are UAB and USA caught up to Troy incredibly fast. Regardless, best of luck to all of you in Pike County.

  10. William Kennedy on June 22nd, 2015 8:29 am

    Just a couple of observations: UAB is a charter member of CUSA. That’s how it “found its way in”. Also, the UA Board of Trustees did not make the decision either way (at least not that they’re willing to admit publicly). Third, it’s not possible for them to look any worse.

  11. Randolph Greer on October 20th, 2015 11:35 pm

    I’m glad to see UAB back in the good graces of the conference. I see only bright days ahead. As a Marshall fan, I know directly what a great impact a football team can have in a community. The people of Birmingham ought to take a personal pride in having a college football team. It is a treasure and a gift for everyone to invest in. It belongs to all of you, make it something special.

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