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Opinion UAB football shutdown should not worry USM fans

UAB football shutdown should not worry USM fans

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UAB quarterback Cody Clements passes against the Southern Miss defense as the Eagles host their last game of the season in Hattiesburg. The Blazers defeat the Golden Eagles, 45-24. This is the last season for the UAB football program due to the schools budget cuts. -Susan Broadbridge/Printz
UAB quarterback Cody Clements passes against the Southern Miss defense as the Eagles host their last game of the season in Hattiesburg. The Blazers defeat the Golden Eagles, 45-24. This is the last season for the UAB football program due to the schools budget cuts. -Susan Broadbridge/Printz

After about a month of speculation, UAB officials decided that it was in the university’s best interests to shut down their football program and reallocate the funds to other athletics.

The speculation went public when a group of UAB alumni and boosters, including Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver Roddy White, wrote a letter to the university’s president, Ray Watts, voicing their disapproval of the university conducting a study to determine if they should keep the program or not and highlighted consequences if the program was indeed
shut down.

One of the biggest consequences of the football program being shut down is the extremely high likelihood that UAB will lose its affiliation with Conference USA and will have to search to join a new conference for their other athletic programs.

Ultimately, no big-time conference is going to accept a school without a football program so it is likely they will have to a join a bottom feeder conference, likely outside of Division-1.

Looking at it from that perspective, it’s hard to understand the reasoning behind cutting the program.

The decision has already sparked backlash from fans and students alike, but if indeed UAB is forced to join a lesser conference, they will receive far less profit from their other athletic programs.

The saddest part of this entire situation is the fact that the players and coaches, who have given their hard work, dedication and a ton of time now have to decide if they should move on to another school or just give up football altogether.

“I am hurting for those kids that were members of that UAB football team,” White said. “I am hurting for those coaches that did a great job of getting the team bowl eligible this year, and I am hurting for the UAB community. The football program was a big part of that community, and the people in that area made great impacts on the lives of those young men, including myself.”

It’s evident that this decision goes far beyond football. Pictures taken of the players being informed of the decision show grown men crying and hurting because all they have ever known just got stripped from them.

While players with eligibility left will be able to transfer to any other FBS program and not have to sit out a year, none of them are guaranteed to have that opportunity. In all likelihood, maybe 15 to 20 players will get that opportunity to play elsewhere, but even then, they will have to alter their lives by leaving a community and school they chose to play for.

It will not be any easier for the coaches either. All of a sudden, they find themselves unemployed and searching for a new job.

With UAB being a member of C-USA, along with Southern Miss, it’s almost second nature to wonder if this could happen to the USM football program in the future, especially considering their 4-32 record over the past three seasons.

Simply put, the Golden Eagle football program is not going anywhere. The UAB football program has only been around since 1991 and did not become a Division-1 program until 1999 and has only had three winning seasons since then.

 

On the other hand, USM has been around since 1912 and has an all-time record of 548-371-27. When it comes down to finances, USM typically breaks even or makes a small profit from its football program while UAB has historically operated in the red due to poor attendance numbers, stemming from their lack of an on-campus stadium.

While USM is not necessarily in danger of losing their football program, it could however lose its status as an FBS school. With college football becoming more and more about money, it is possible that the Power 5 conferences – SEC, Pac 12, Big 10, Big 12 and the ACC – will break off and create their own league. In which case, USM will no longer be a part of the FBS, but that scenario is years away from playing out.

While the UAB situation may be scary for some USM fans to think about, its decision is an isolated circumstance and is not indicative of USM’s future.

Joshua Campbell
Joshua is a senior broadcast journalism major and is the Sports Editor of The Student Printz.

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