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UAB to pay $25,000 per home game in new downtown stadium

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One of the biggest offseason stories revolving around the UAB football program has been what will the future outlook for the Blazers football stadium looks like. In recent months, steps toward moving the team out of Legion Field and into a brand new stadium in downtown Birmingham have been taken with great stride. On Friday, a lease agreement between UAB and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority was approved by the Board of Trustees.

The 20-year agreement will allow UAB to play anywhere between six and 10 home games per season in the still-to-be-constructed downtown football stadium. According to a report from Al.com, each home game will cost UAB $25,000 over the course of the first 10 years, after which point the cost per game will be renegotiated for the remainder of the contract. In addition to home games, UAB will also pay $10,000 for each UAB spring game and will pay $15,000 for any postseason game that may take place in the new stadium (for example, a Conference USA championship game). As part of the deal, UAB will be able to hold up to 20 practices per year in the new stadium at no extra cost, and UAB football schedule will take priority over any other events to be held in the stadium.

The cost of playing games in the newly constructed stadium will run $10,000 higher than what UAB currently pays to hold home games in aging Legion Field. A new stadium in downtown Birmingham is expected to be completed in time for the 2021 season, at which point UAB will officially move its football program to its new home.

UAB has played home games in Legion Field in Birmingham since the program started in 1991. Originally constructed in 1926, Legion Field has long been a staple of football in the state of Alabama that has hosted the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn as well as professional football teams from the USFL, CFL, XFL and more. Legion Field is the current home of the Birmingham Bowl.

Miami adds UAB to 2020 schedule

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The Miami Hurricanes and UAB Blazers are set for a future football game in 2020, the two schools announced on Monday. Miami will host UAB in Hard Rock Stadium on September 19, 2020 in the first meeting between the two programs (barring any potential bowl matchup before then, of course).

“We’re excited about the addition of UAB to our schedule for 2020,” Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Strawley said in a released statement. “We are always striving for a competitive nonconference slate to complement our ACC schedule.”

Miami will open the 2020 season at home against old Big East punching bag Temple and the Hurricanes will travel to Michigan State of the Big Ten the week after hosting UAB. As of now, those are the only three games locked into the 2020 schedule for Miami until the ACC schedule is unveiled for that season. Miami will host Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Florida State in conference play that fall. Miami will make road trips to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Wake Forest. As it stands now, Miami has room for one more game to add to the 2020 schedule for a full 12-game schedule. With Michigan State on the slate, Miami’s power conference scheduling requirement for non-conference play is already satisfied, so another home game against a non-conference opponent is most likely to be the end-result.

UAB continues to line up power conference opponents for one-game paydays with the addition of Miami in 2020. UAB will play at Texas A&M this fall, at Tennessee in 2019, and at Georgia in 2021.

Five Ole Miss transfers granted NCAA waivers to play in 2018

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The Shea Patterson ruling cracked the door.  Thursday, Thomas Mars‘ righteous tenacity kicked the door wide open for his remaining clients.

Throughout the evening, it was confirmed that five players who had transferred from Ole Miss in the midst of sanctions levied on the football program had been granted a waiver by the NCAA that allows them to compete immediately at their new schools.  The quintet impacted by today’s confirmations include defensive back Deontay Anderson (Houston), offensive tackle Jack DeFoor (Georgia Tech), Breon Dixon (Nebraska), wide receiver Tre Nixon (UCF) and linebacker Jarrion Street (UAB).

All of those players were 2016 signees who will have three years of eligibility remaining, and all five will likely contribute to their new teams immediately in 2018.

The Patterson decision, announced late last month and which granted him immediate eligibility at Michigan, came after the quarterback’s new school and his old school, Ole Miss, “worked together over the last several days in conjunction with the NCAA national office staff, and with a focus on the best interest of the student-athlete, to put forward a new waiver application.” That resolution certainly paved the way for these collective decisions less than two weeks later, and decisions that were the absolute correct ones for the student-athletes involved.

UAB confirms hiring of Alabama staffer as line coach

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Bill Clark‘s UAB coaching staff is officially whole once again.

Following up on reports that surfaced over the weekend, the Blazers confirmed Wednesday that Jody Wright has been hired as Clark’s offensive line coach. Wright will carry the title of assistant head coach, although there was no mention by the school of him serving as running-game coordinator as was previously reported.

“We couldn’t be more excited having Jody back on our staff,” UAB’s head coach said in a statement. “He has a great offensive mind and his familiarity with the program will pay immediate dividends. He is inheriting an experienced and talented group and we are looking forward to big things from his unit in 2018.”

Wright replaces Trey Clark, who left the staff earlier this offseason.

Wright’s hiring marks a return to Birmingham for the assistant as he was the Blazers’ running backs coach under Clark in 2014. He was also on Clark’s coaching staff at FCS Jacksonville State the previous season.

Wright comes to UAB from Alabama, where he’s spent the past three years as the Crimson Tide’s director of player personnel. According to 247Sports.com, “Wright’s responsibilities with the Crimson Tide included the organization of all of the football team’s recruiting efforts” as working “with compliance regarding initial eligibility and assists with coaching clinics, camps and other on-campus events.”

Shea Patterson ruling gives hope to other Ole Miss transfers

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There were more interested parties than just Michigan when it came to an official ruling that went down Friday.

As had previously been reported, Shea Patterson received approval on a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to play for the Wolverines this coming season. The decision came after the quarterback’s new school and his old school, Ole Miss, “worked together over the last several days in conjunction with the NCAA national office staff, and with a focus on the best interest of the student-athlete, to put forward a new waiver application.”

While it’s certainly good news for Patterson and U-M, it also bodes well for others.

In addition to Patterson, six other Ole Miss players transferred from the Rebels after sanctions on the football program were announced — defensive back Deontay Anderson (Houston) (pictured), offensive tackle Jack DeFoor (Georgia Tech), Breon Dixon (Nebraska), wide receiver Van Jefferson (Florida), wide receiver Tre Nixon (UCF) and linebacker Jarrion Street (UAB). Five of those six, the lone exception being Dixon, are represented by the same attorney who advised Patterson throughout his appeal process — Arkansas-based lawyer Tom Mars.

Based on the Patterson decision, it would seem to be a slam dunk for at least five of the six to receive their own waivers that would grant them eligibility in 2018. The lone outlier in this case could be Jefferson, who was a 2015 signee; all the others, Patterson included, were members of the Rebels’ 2016 recruiting class.

“We find the Shea Patterson ruling to be very encouraging,” a Nebraska official told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We hope that (Dixon’s) application is judged based on the merits of his situation and we hope for a similar outcome.”

Dixon and NU have not yet filed their appeal, although that’s expected to happen in short order.