UAB vs. UAT

Disgusting. Embarrassing. Shameful.

Just a few of the words that came to mind when it was revealed that the University of Alabama system Board of Trustees submarined UABís attempt to hire LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as head football coach for the supposed reason that his salary would have been too great.

If media reports are accurate, and thereís no reason to believe they arenít in this case, UAB and Fisher agreed on a deal that would have had him take over the program at a salary of $600,000 a year. It was also reported that half of the money to pay Fisher would come from local businessmen, making Fisherís effective salary against the schoolís payroll a miniscule $300,000 per year. The average Division-1 football coach in America makes three times that sum.

Iím supposed to believe $300,000 was too steep a price for the University of Alabama system to pay the head coach at UAB when less than a month ago it agreed to pay the incompetent deposed head coach of the Tuscaloosa campus football team four million dollars just to leave town?

What is going on here?

Iíll tell you whatís going on here: The University of Alabama system Board of Trustees is afraid the Birmingham school will one day compete with the Tuscaloosa school in football and itís doing whatever it can to make sure that never happens.

Of the Boardís 15 members, 11 of them have some kind of degree from the Tuscaloosa campus while just two have a degree from the Birmingham campus.

One of those with a degree from UAT is none other than Bear Bryantís son, Paul Bryant, Jr. Remember, Bear was on record having said he didnít even think UAB should have an athletic department, let alone a football team. It has long been speculated in Alabama that the Board subversively attempts to stymie UABís growth in athletics and this stunt proves that suspicion beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Fisher, having played at Samford (in Birmingham) where he was named the Division III player of the year, then going on to coach there and later at Auburn and LSU where he served as both quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, was the perfect choice for the job. A young, up and coming, proven coordinator with two stops in the upper division of the SEC, a national title on his resume and in-state ties was the exact match UAB was looking for to shake off the Watson Brown doldrums.

UAB had its man, all without the public fiasco and embarrassment UATís coaching search has featured, and the Tuscaloosa run Board tanked it.

UAT is afraid of UAB.

What does it say about the condition of the UAT football program when it has to rely on backroom politics from its Board to protect it from UAB?

It tells me UAT football has never been in a worse condition. It tells me that UAT football is afraid of competition. It tells me UAT football knows itís already lost control of the state to Auburn and doesnít want to become a third class citizen in its own state. It tells me every single member of that Board with a degree from Tuscaloosa on the wall is a coward. And sadly, it tells me UAB will never be allowed to compete, honestly and fairly, in major college football because its purse strings and ability to compete are controlled in Tuscaloosa, not Birmingham.

Football on the UAT campus has been a joke for the last 10 years. From bungled coaching searches, to coaches wining and dining strippers on University credit cards, to innumerable losses, to coaches at such football powerhouses as West Virginia and South Florida and South Carolina turning down its head coaching job, to being left in the middle of the night by a coach leaving for Texas A&M, to multiple NCAA infractions which nearly resulted in the Death Penalty, UAT football has gone from a shining castle to stinking outhouse.

Now comes the capper: the Tuscaloosa controlled board nixes UABís hiring of Jimbo Fisher because it was afraid of the competition.

Tommy Tuberville already haunts the dreams of the Bammers, the idea of the Blazers landing Fisher and further closing the gap must have been terrifying. So terrifying that the Board chose to punish every UAB football player, fan and alumnus Ė not to mention the entire city of Birmingham and potential future recruits Ė by denying them the best most qualified coach it could attract, all because it was afraid of the competition.

For a football program that seems to sink further every day, UAT has found a new low.

Disgusting. Embarrassing. Shameful.