UPDATE: UAB athletic director doesn’t commit to Blazers football over long haul

20 Comments

We can all fondly remember Roddy White, Darrell Hackney and Joe Webb making plays on the football field for the UAB Blazers.

No, not all of us?

Well, some of us remember those quality players bringing some excitement to Blazers football. Unfortunately, the legacy they tried to build in Birmingham, Ala. may never be realized.

After starting the program in 1991, the Blazers fell on hard times recently and haven’t won more than five games since 2004. Despite new head coach Bill Clark having the program pointed in the right direction with a 5-4 record this season, it may not be enough amid growing concerns the school will cease football activities in 2016.

UAB president Ray L. Watts felt the need to address the rumors Thursday by releasing a statement clarifying the school’s plans and confirm no decision has been made regarding the football program:

“More than a year ago, UAB began the most comprehensive campus-wide strategic planning process in our history, calling for the 10 schools, College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College, Information Technology, Research Administration, and other units to develop individual strategic plans, set priorities and implement long-term goals.

“Within that framework, the Athletic Department is conducting a full strategic review of its programs. The Athletic Department has engaged outside experts and is exploring a full range of options – not all of which will be implemented – to reach its desired results of sustained excellence.

“Not surprisingly given the size of the program, one area of focus involves evaluating the investments in football and the resources necessary to achieve and sustain excellence now and into the future. We’ve been working for many months on this data driven process, and it would be counterproductive and inappropriate to speculate on outcomes based on an incomplete process — not just related to athletics, but across the campus.”

The one point Watt didn’t address was the future of the program. He simply remained non-committal.

Everything currently points toward the university ending football operations. After all, Clark’s contract only runs through 2015, and the athletic department has yet to schedule a non-conference game for 2016 and beyond.

Blazers faithful may need a Hail Mary to keep the program alive.

UPDATE (9:00 p.m.):  First, UAB president Ray L. Watts felt the need to address growing rumors that the university will end its football program in 2016. A day later, UAB athletic director Brian Mackin was compelled to do the same in a statement, via Al.com:

“Like all areas across our campus, the Athletic Department is working on a strategic plan to maximize our resources and drive excellence.  This process is critical to ensuring the best days of UAB Athletics are yet to come for our students, alumni, fans and community. Coming out of this process, we will know what it takes — from the institution, as well as supporters including our donors — to best support our programs. My staff and I, and our consultants — Carr Sports Consulting, a trusted adviser and expert in college athletics — have invested a great deal of care in undertaking a department-wide strategic plan.  As we close in on completing this initiative, we will make informed decisions that are supported by data and expert analysis.  It would be premature to speculate about pending results, but I firmly believe this approach will lead to the most exciting era in UAB Athletics.”

Like Watts, Mackin never committed to the football program. In fact, his most telling statement was mentioning the school is “working on a strategic plan to maximize resources.” Since the school received a $1.5 million from BBVA Compass to build a new soccer stadium on campus, it doesn’t bode well for the football program.

West Virginia QB Will Grier announces return in 2018

AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
Leave a comment

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will be back for another season of football in Morgantown. Grier announced today he will be back in the blue and gold in 2018, his senior season.

Citing a desire to see his team accomplish more next season, Grier said he is “completely focused and looking forward to building off the success” experienced in 2017.

“West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here,” Grier said in his released statement.

Grier’s return to West Virginia will be a boost for the offense next season. In his first year back playing college football after parting ways with Florida amid a drug-related suspension, Grier played in 11 games and passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Mountaineers. He was one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to average more than 300 passing yards in a game, with the other two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. With Mayfield and Rudolph moving on to the NFL next year, Grier will be one of the top offensive players returning to play football in the Big 12 in 2018.

UCF RB Adrian Killins: SEC football doesn’t have a lot of speed

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

UCF has won all 12 games they have played this season because they have a distinct advantage with the talent on the roster. At 12-0 with an American Athletic Conference championship, the Knights are heading to the Peach Bowl to take on SEC West Division champion Auburn. When the two collide, UCF running back Adrian Killins will hope to back up his words with his performance on the field.

Speaking to the media this week, Killins said Auburn has not seen speed like the kind UCF will bring to the game in Atlanta on January 1. Defying the popular narrative over the years about how much speed the SEC has, Killins does not seem to be too impressed.

“SEC football, they don’t have a lot of speed, honestly,” Killins told The Orlando Sentinel. “So, Auburn hasn’t seen any speed like we have here.”

It’s worth noting that Auburn has faced Clemson this season. Just to throw that out there. But that said, is the SEC speed narrative a thing of the past? Killins suggests the SEC is more about being physical and not so much looking to strike quickly. But the SEC has had some fast-moving offenses, including this season with Missouri and, of course, Auburn. But in terms of raw speed from the players, maybe that is where UCF will look to create an advantage against the Tigers.

“I will say they’re in for a rude awakening, because UCF football, we’re UCF fast and UCF fierce,” Killins said.

And with that, Killins has just given Auburn’s defense some good bulletin board material ahead of the Peach Bowl.

DA: No charges will be pursued against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson

Getty Images
4 Comments

The attorney for Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson labeled the allegations against his client “patently false.” A few days later, the Sooners football player has been vindicated.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced that his office would not pursue charges against Anderson.  The decision came after the prosecutor met with a Norman Police Department detective Tuesday afternoon and again Thursday morning.

Earlier this month, a woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

The alleged assault occurred Nov. 16, with the alleged victim claiming that she began recalling details of the alleged attack the weekend of Dec. 2 as she was speaking to a friend.

Late last week, it was reported that Anderson passed a three-hour lie detector test administered to him this past week by a retired FBI polygraph examiner. Bill Brown, the retired FBI investigator who has reportedly performed in excess of 3,500 such polygraph exams, was hired by Derek Chance, Anderson’s attorney, to administer the test.  That attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances.

Anderson currently leads the Sooners with 960 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the ground.  He’s also caught 16 passes for 283 yards and another five touchdowns coming out of the backfield.

No. 2 Oklahoma is set to face No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day, with the winner facing the Clemson-Alabama winner for the right to play for the 2017 College Football Playoff championship.

Scott Frost bests three playoff coaches for Eddie Robinson Award

Associated Press
Leave a comment

For the second time since the regular season ended, Scott Frost is on the receiving end of some coaching hardware.

For his work at UCF, the Football Writers Association of America announced Thursday that Frost has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.  Frost, who was named as the new head coach at Nebraska upon the completion of the regular season, was also honored as the Home Depot Coach of the Year last week.

“Scott Frost is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” said FWAA president Dave Jones in a statement. “What he did at UCF was nothing short of remarkable in just two seasons.”

Taking over a team that went 0-12 in 2015, Frost coached UCF to a 6-7 record last season.  This season, Frost has the 12th-ranked Knights sitting at 12-0 after winning the football program’s second outright AAC championship and earning the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.

After some initial uncertainty, it was confirmed earlier this week that Frost will coach UCF in its Peach Bowl matchup with Auburn.

There were seven other finalists for this year’s Robinson Award, including Bill Clark, UAB; Lane Kiffin, FAU; Jeff Monken, Army; Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma; Kirby Smart, Georgia; Dabo Swinney, Clemson; and Jeff Tedford, Fresno State.  Riley, Smart and Swinney all led their respective teams to this year’s College Football Playoff.