Seventy-eight bowl invites came and went on Sunday afternoon, and UAB did not receive one. With Tuesday’s announcement that 2014 would be the program’s final season, missing a bowl game means UAB football is now officially a thing of the past.
The Blazers closed the regular season Nov. 29 with a 45-24 win over Southern Miss, giving the team its sixth win and making the club eligible for its second bowl appearance in school history. But word leaked earlier this week that, though eligible, no one in the bowl business wanted to touch UAB and the toxic environment around the program. “No one will touch them with what’s going on with the program since other options exist,” a source told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
There were plenty of eligible options, too. Eighty-one teams reached bowl eligibility, including eight in Conference USA.
And here’s the hard truth: UAB didn’t receive a bowl bid partly because it didn’t deserve one. FiveConference USA teams were chosen for bowls – Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Rice, Western Kentucky and UTEP – and each of them won more games than the Blazers. UAB wasn’t even the only hard-luck story of this bowl season. Georgia Southern won the Sun Belt with a 9-3 record but will sit home this fall after its appeal to receive a bowl eligibility waiver from the NCAA was denied.
While one can see the appeal UAB would have as a human interest story, and the shuttering of the program is an absolute disgrace, it’s hard to feel too sorry for a 6-6 Conference USA team getting passed over for more deserving candidates.
UAB players deserved to close their season in a bowl game, but other players deserved it more.