UAB Blazers

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The UAB Blazers are the athletic teams which represent the University of Alabama at Birmingham. UAB is a member of the "Conference USA" athletic conference and competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. The Blazers' team colors are forest green and gold and the mascot is a fire-breathing dragon named Blaze.

UAB athletics is known primarily for the success of the men's basketball team. The university's athletic department was created in 1978 by legendary basketball coach Gene Bartow who led the Blazers basketball team to the elite eight of the 1982 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, played in Birmingham at the BJCC.

UAB began its football program as a club team in 1989 joining Division III of the NCAA in 1991. The program moved up to Division I-AA in 1993 and finally to Division I-A in 1996 under head coach Watson Brown and becoming a football-playing member of Conference USA in 1999. The Blazers play their home games at Legion Field.

In addition to football and basketball, UAB also has programs in men's sports for baseball, golf, soccer, and tennis. Women's sports programs include softball, basketball, golf, soccer, synchronized swimming, tennis, track and field, rifle and volleyball.

UAB Blazer athletic programming is broadcast on the Blazers ISP Radio Network, including WYDE FM 101.1 in the Birmingham area.

Traditions

Alma Mater

"Blazer Victory"

All hail alma mater
We sing this song for thee
Raise up the banner for Blazer victory.
(Fight! Fight! Fight!)

All hail alma mater
We pledge to always be
Ever faithful, ever loyal
To dear old UAB!

Fight song

At UAB in Birmingham
All hail our players bold
They are the mighty Blazers
Who wear the green and gold.

Tonight let's fire their golden blaze
The flame of victory
Go Blazers! Go Blazers!
Win for UAB!

Football

Main article: UAB Blazers football

UAB began its football program in Division III of the NCAA in 1991. Jim Hilyer was the first head coach of the Blazers, from 1991-1994. Watson Brown took over as head coach in 1995 and oversaw the team's advancement into Division I-A in 1996, and membership in Conference USA in 1999.

In 2000, UAB achieved a monumental victory by beating Nick Saban's LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. In 2004, UAB earned their first bowl trip, losing to the University of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

UAB plays its home football games at Legion Field. Through its marketing department, the team has sought to establish the University of Memphis as its primary on-field rival, creating the "Battle for the Bones" trophy for the winner of the annual match-up.

Following the 3-9 2006 season, Watson Brown resigned to take the head coaching job at Tennessee Tech, in his home town. The search for a replacement focused first on Louisiana State University assistant Jimbo Fisher, but the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees rejected the proposed contract amount [1]. Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway was named head coach on December 17, 2006. After 5 seasons and a 18-42 record, Callaway was fired and replaced by Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee. McGee left after two seasons and former Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark was named as his replacement in January 2014.

UAB Football Coaches
Coach Years Wins-Losses
Jim Hilyer 1991-1994 27-12-2 (.692)
Watson Brown 1995-2006 62-74 (.456)
Neil Callaway 2007-2011 18-42 (.300)
Garrick McGee 2012-2013 5-19 (.000)
Bill Clark 2014- present 0-0 (.000)
Overall 112-147-2 (.429)

Basketball

Men's Basketball

Gene Bartow

The UAB Blazers, in effect, started its entire athletics program with the creation of a men's basketball team in 1978. Setting the standards high from the start, UAB hired former UCLA and Memphis State University head coach, Gene Bartow. Known to many as the "Father of UAB athletics", legendary Coach Gene Bartow led the Blazers to almost instant success. Since their inaugural season, the Blazers have made 13 appearances in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament including 3 Sweet Sixteen appearances and 1 Elite Eight appearance. After only 33 years of basketball, UAB has had 29 winning seasons and had memorable wins over the Virginia Cavaliers, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Louisville Cardinals, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Indiana Hoosiers, and the Memphis State Tigers among others. In 2004, the school once again gained national attention when it upset No. 1-seed Kentucky in the second round of the tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The Blazers have amassed an impressive 664 wins to only 385 losses since 1978 giving UAB the 25th best all-time winning percentage in college basketball history. The UAB men's basketball team has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll more than 30 times in school history and has even been ranked among the Top 10 in the nation. Through the 1988-89 season, UAB played its home games at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Today, UAB plays its home basketball games in Bartow Arena. The current head coach, Mike Davis, was named head coach of the Blazers in the spring of 2006, the fourth head coach in UAB basketball history.

UAB Basketball Coaches
Coach Years Wins-Losses
Gene Bartow 1978-1996 365-204 (.641)
Murry Bartow 1996-2002 103-83 (.554)
Mike Anderson 2002-2006 89-41 (.685)
Mike Davis 2006-Present 107-57 (.652)
Overall 664-385 (.633)

Baseball

The UAB men's baseball team plays at Young Memorial Field on University Boulevard. The baseball coach is Brian Shoop, who left a successful BSC Panthers team after that school dropped out of NCAA Divison I play. Shoop joined the Blazers on June 12, 2006. On July 28, 2008, Shoop's former boss at Mississippi State, Ron Polk, joined the Blazers as a volunteer assistant coach after he retired as the Bulldogs' head coach. Polk, 64 at the time, had spent 35 seasons as a college head coach and compiled a 1,373-700-2 record. He directed his team to eight College World Series appearances, five SEC championships and won more games than any other coach in SEC history.

The 2007 Blazers baseball team went 25-33 and 12-12 in conference play. The 2008 squad went 26-34 but dropped to 7-17 in conference play.

The Blazers have had two former baseball players make it to the Major Leagues. Hector Villanueva played 4 seasons (1990 - 1993) for the Chicago Cubs, and Chris Hammond played a total of 14 seasons between 1990 and 2006 for several different teams.

Softball

The women's softball team plays at UAB Softball Field.

Soccer

Men's Soccer

UAB began a men's soccer program back in 1979. Throughout its history, UAB has enjoyed quite a bit of success in both the men's and women's soccer programs. The men's team has been in the NCAA Tournament a total of 5 times including 1 Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2001. The men's team has been ranked both regionally and nationally numerous times throughout its history. One of UAB's biggest wins in the men's team history came when UAB upset the #1-ranked UCLA Bruins in 1997 by a score of 2-0. UAB would upset another #1-ranked team in 2006 when they beat the SMU Mustangs by a score of 2-1. The men's team plays their home games at UAB's West Campus Field. Mike Getman is the head coach of the men's team. Since 1993, the men's team has won 78.4% of its games played at West Campus Field.

Women's Soccer

Though only beginning a women's soccer program only in 1996, the UAB women's soccer team has already been in the NCAA Tournament and has also been ranked several times in its history. The UAB women's soccer team has won the Conference USA Championship 3 times in ten years, including the most recent in 2006. Paul Harbin is the head coach of the women's team. Like the men, the women's team plays their home games at UAB's West Campus Field.

Other sports

UAB currently fields a varsity synchronized swimming team. Established in 1999, the program was spurred by the interest of President Ann Reynolds in the sport. On April 10, 2008 the University announced that the team would be disbanded at the end of the 2009 season. It is being discontinued because of the very small number of NCAA-sanctioned competitors across the country.

Championships

Conference championships (40)

See also

References

  • "UAB Blazers." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 17 Dec 2006, 22:23 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 18 Dec 2006 [2].