Nothing is certain at this point, but it sounds as though the return of UAB’s recently revived football program will have to wait until 2017. That target return date appears to be the most ideal timeline for UAB Athletics Director Mark Ingram.
“It’s more ideal if we tried to do it in (2017), so we didn’t do it so rushed,” Ingram said, per Al.com. “Let’s do it right rather than fast so that we keep all these things at the forefront – the safety (of players) and the respect of our peers. But if we found out through various channels that playing in (2016) was our only option, that’s what we’ll do.”
Ingram is absolutely right when suggesting the school should take as much time as needed to make sure all the pieces are in place for bringing the football program back in good form. If that means staying away for an extra year rather than rush to get back on the field in 2016 (we already knew 2015 would be impossible), then so be it. It may not be what fans will want to hear, but if it means better long-term security as a football program then it will be something the Blazer faithful — and they have been plenty faithful in the past eight months — will have to accept.
Of course, shutting the program for one year when it may not have been necessary in the first place is a big pill to swallow. What about two years of a needless shutdown?
UAB could apply for a waiver to sign a recruiting class (or two?) that exceeds the NCAA limit of 25 scholarships per year. Another option would be to bring in 25 junior college transfers as early enrollees followed immediately by a regular signing class. Applying for extra years of eligibility for players remaining on campus is also another option the school should pursue. Ingram knows that could cause for some tension with UAB’s Conference USA rivals, but it is a short-term issue that will have to be dealt with one way or the other.
“If we tried to sign 50 players in the upcoming signing class, that’s going to give heartburn to our peers in the league,” Ingram said. “Whether it should or it shouldn’t, the reality is it does and we respect that. They’ve been very generous to us and supportive of us as wanting us to stay in the league, so we want to do all this respectfully to them, too.”
Conference USA did the right thing in stating it will not remove UAB from the conference since football will, eventually, be returning to the conference. And with Bill Clark keeping close with the program, I’ll echo the sentiment shared by John the other day by suggesting the Blazers should be in good hands as it starts putting everything back together after having it put on life support.