Hundreds of UAB fans gather in hopes of saving Blazer football

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If UAB football is going down, it’s not going down without a fight.

Amid reports that UAB is planning on shuttling its football program, possibly as soon as this week, hundreds of UAB fans gathered Monday in an effort to keep Blazers football afloat.

The Alabama Board of Trustees has long been rumored to have an eye out to cancel UAB football amid concerns that the program was not financially solvent. First-year head coach Bill Clark is under contract only through 2016, and the program does not have any non-conference games scheduled beyond that season.

With the team showing a spike of unexpected success, qualifying for eligibility to play in just the second bowl game in program history, fans have rallied in support of the program’s future.

Head coach Clark had not heard anything about the future of his program as of late Monday afternoon.

Clark isn’t alone, as UAB president Dr. Ray Watts has not been made available for comment.

Alabama governor Robert Bentlely expressed support for the program Monday, telling AL.com, “Hopefully it’s going to survive, and I’m going to find out some more information about the situation over the next day or two,” Bentley said.

Current players also joined in the fight. In a letter provided to AL.comthe senior class of 2015 wrote a letter to its school president saying in part:

Every one of us has fought for UAB football all year long. Many of us have fought for UAB football every day for the last four years. When we were recruited, we were sold on the very best of what UAB can be, and how UAB would in turn, make us our best. We believed in UAB then, and we believe in UAB now – which is why we will not stop fighting for what is right.

So we ask you to provide the leadership and direction we need. Stand up for your students and alumni. Stand alongside the businesses, leadership and people of Birmingham. And fight for us.

Or, with all due respect, look us in the eye and tell us you don’t believe in us.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban also weighed in on the topic – carefully playing both sides, speaking partly as a colleague of coaches that could lose their jobs in the coming days, and also speaking as an employee of the same university system that could shut UAB football down.

“My thoughts are always with the players and the people in our profession that are affected by losing their jobs, whether it’s getting fired or someone discontinuing their program,” Saban told the Associated Press. “I hate to see that for anyone in our profession. I certainly hate to see players have to go through the things they have to go through when they have to change programs or don’t have the opportunity to play were they thought they were going to play.

“Saying all that, I understand the other side of it, too. There’s a business aspect to all this that has to make sense to people relative to justifying athletic programs in general. And that’s above my pay grade, and I’m not involved at all in any opinion in what should and shouldn’t be done.”

Should UAB cancel football, it would be the first major program to do so since Pacific in 1995.

Interim USC president sidesteps questions about AD Lynn Swann’s job security in wake of scandal

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News that USC was involved in yet another improbable athletics scandal was not a surprise to a lot of folks who had been following the Trojans in recent years but it seems that the school’s efforts to clean things up in the athletic department might mean nobody is safe. Even those at the very top of the org chart.

In a rare interview this week since several school officials were indicted several days ago, USC’s interim president Wanda Austin sidestepped questions about athletic director Lynn Swann’s job security in the wake of several calls for his resignation.

“My comments would be that we certainly are doing a complete investigation around athletics because of the admission scandal and concern,” Austin told Annenberg Media. “After we complete that review and find out the facts of who knew what and/or who should have known what. That obviously will be something that will be reviewed with the board.”

That’s… not exactly a vote of confidence in the AD. In fact, it’s a sidestepping of a question that would impress even the most seasoned of politicians.

While it should be noted that the university is expected to name a new, full-time president at some point in the near future that will ultimately have say in personnel matters like this, Austin definitely didn’t douse any hot seat talk surrounding the Hall of Famer turned administrator. Swann said last week that he would like to remain in his position for a total of 10 years but it seems that having three people in one’s department caught up in FBI investigations the past two years might mean nobody is actually safe in Los Angeles after all.

New Miami QB Tate Martell’s eligibility wavier reportedly received Ohio State support

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This normally dreary stretch of the offseason in college football was perked up quite a bit on Tuesday when Miami announced that Ohio State transfer Tate Martell’s waiver with the NCAA to play immediately was granted and that he would suit up for the Hurricanes in 2019. While many though this was a great example of free agency coming to the sport, that’s not truly the case given the byzantine process the NCAA typically goes through in cases like this.

However, there were some unique factors that went into the decision according to the Miami Herald and that included some serious weight given to the fact that the Buckeyes were not standing in the way of Martell leaving nor becoming eligible in South Florida right away.

“I think what you had here is a situation where the request was made in a way that Ohio State did not oppose what we put in our request and they were cooperative with Miami,” attorney Travis Leach told the paper. “That ultimately was helpful to us.”

While Miami sources did describe things as a bit of a divorce between signal-caller and OSU after ex-Georgia QB Justin Fields transferred in, it’s interesting that the story noted that the change from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day at head coach didn’t really play a factor. That was something that a lot of folks seemed to hang their hats on in this case but it seems that the NCAA listened closer to the circumstances surrounding Martell leaving Columbus and what the football program was doing in terms of roster management and not who was doing the managing.

Either way, it seems like everybody — sans perhaps some Michigan and Florida State fans — came out a winner from this whole player shuffle. It’s probably a lot more encouraging for the next high-profile quarterback thinking about transferring out for greener pastures too.

WWE “scout” showed up at Penn State Pro Day for second straight year

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‘We are’ is really channelling their ‘Woooo’ now a days.

If you’re too young to get that reference or never did follow wrestling back in the day, don’t worry. Just know that some sort of pipeline is being apparently developed at Penn State by the WWE.

At least it seems that way judging by the organization’s Pro Day attendance.

You will notice that the school separates out the WWE from the WWE-backed XFL spring football league that is being launched next year. That’s a notable distinction given that the wrestling company has shown up to Happy Valley two years in a row now for Pro Day. While one wouldn’t have had a big issue with them turning up to see the Saquon Barkley freak show last year, it seems that this is now becoming a bit of a trend with James Franklin’s program.

While you can bet that this will be a nice recruiting tool for the Nittany Lions to connect with a few recruits down the road, things might get a little strange if the WWE decides to recreate a ‘White Out’ for the next Wrestlemania or plucks a few lineman from the school to form the next tag team at the event.

Mizzou reportedly tore less than 25,000 tickets per game in 2018

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The SEC is the home of the most fanatical college football fans in the sport, they tell us. It’s the place where they’d draw 80,000 fans to watch walk-ons practice catching punts. It really does just mean more.

So what does it say about the conference, and the sport as a whole, when one of its members tore less than 25,000 tickets per game?

That’s the case at Missouri, where, according to a report Tuesday from Columbia Missourian, the Tigers scanned an average of 24,377 tickets over the course of the team’s seven-game home schedule.

Now, there are some mitigating factors here. The school says the number is a far cry from the actual paid attendance because the stadium’s electronic ticket scanners did not work on a number of occasions, thereby allowing untold thousands of paying customers to enter the stadium without being counted. And, no doubt, that was a factor — though how big a factor, no one can say.

But it’s still a far cry from the 51,865 fans Missouri says attended each game, which itself is a far cry from Faurot Field’s listed capacity of 71,168.

Another mitigating factor: the home schedule. Tiger fans did get to see Georgia come to Faurot Field. Their other opponents, though: UT-Martin, Wyoming, Memphis, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. Not exactly a murderer’s row of opponents Mizzou fans grew up learning to hate. And as the article says, weather and timing didn’t help the Arkansas gate.

However, it’s not as if a poor attendance number can be blamed on poor performance. Mizzou went 5-2 at home in 2018.

And then there’s this: the 2018 schedule is more or less Mizzou’s home schedule every year. In 2019, Missouri plays host to West Virginia, Southeast Missouri State, South Carolina, Troy, Ole Miss, Florida and Tennessee.

Let’s see if Missouri can tear more than 25,000 tickets per game this time around.