Today's edition of Know Your Enemy takes a look at perhaps the biggest unknown on Ohio State's schedule, The UAB Blazers.
Q: Okay, I don't know anything about UAB except for the fact that it is in Alabama. Help me out here.
A: It's okay, before I started researching this article, I didn't either. UAB started as an extension of the University of Alabama in 1933, and added a hospital campus in the mid 1940s. This caused the campus to greatly expand, forcing it to become a university in it's own right in 1969. They went on to start an athletic department in 1970. Now, UAB is the largest single employer in the state of Alabama. Not too shabby for such a relatively new school.
Q: Oh, that's pretty cool. With the university growing so quickly, and with UAB so close to so many good athletes, I bet their football team is pretty solid.
A: Nope! They're terrible! UAB's football program has only really been around since 1991, and has only been competing at the division 1A level since 1996. They joined CUSA in 1999, and have enjoyed almost no success. They've only made one bowl appearance in school history, where they gave up 59 points to Hawaii in the 2004 Hawaii bowl. You see unfortunately for UAB, the power brokers that be are all Alabama Crimson Tide alumnus, boosters, fans, and/or partisans. The fear is that by making UAB even accidentally remotely relevant, they'd inadvertently be usurping resources from the state's biggest export factory. And that export is being self aware of nothing (or worse, everything) and yelling "ROLL TIDE" at socially inappropriate times and situations.
But hey! They hired Arkansas' well respected offensive coordinator Garrick McGee. There was even talks of McGee bailing on the Blazers before he ever even coached a game there to replace Bobby Petrino following that scandal. In fact, McGee, should he have even a modicum of success relative to previous UAB squads (which is to say not much), may find himself on the short list for Arkansas' permanent job come seasons end. Of course all that being said, the fact that they hired him in the first place means UAB "boosters" probably have no idea who Garrick McGee is.
Q: Does UAB at least have any interesting alumni we can discuss here?
A: Not many! NFLers Roddy White and Joe Webb played for UAB, but that's about it. The current Surgeon General of the US, Regina Benjamin, got her MD at UAB...But, yeah. No interesting political figures, no well-known business professionals or academics, nothing. UAB is mostly kind of boring.
Q: Do they at least have a cool stadium?
A: Nope! UAB plays in the off-campus, decrepit and massive Legion Bowl. The Legion Bowl can seat over 70,000 people, and with UAB struggling in a 2nd tier conference, it has all the energy and passion of C-SPAN2 reading of the tax code.
Q: Whoa. Does UAB have ANYTHING going for it?
A: Their mascot is the "Blazers", but their logo is pretty much Trogdor. In fact, I'm going to call them the UAB Trogdors for the rest of this article. Burnanating all the linemen...in their THATCHED ROOF COTTAGESSSSSS!
Q: How did the Trogdors do last season? Not particularly well I'm guessing?
A: That would be correct. UAB finished 3-9 last year, and with a final ranking of 105th nationally. They manged to shock Southern Miss when they were ranked, eek out a win against Central Florida, beat doormat Memphis, and were competitive in a few other games (close losses to Troy and East Carolina). Mostly though, they were summarily destroyed by bad teams. Any time you give up 49 points to TULANE, you are not good at football. If Tulane scores 49 points on you in Xbox football, you shouldn't be allowed to play video games for a month. UAB had one of the worst defenses in the country (giving up over 35 points a game), and were particularly horrid against the pass (113th in the country).
Q: Do they have a prayer of being better next year?
A: Maybe. UAB's passing game shouldn't be terrible next year, as they bring back their QB Johnathan Perry, and their top 3 WRs from last year. Their big concern will be if they can keep Perry upright. He has some scrambling potential and with the team basically needing to replace their entire offensive line, he's going to need it. Like with Miami, Ohio State may end up eating Perry for lunch.
UAB also needs to replace almost their entire defensive backfield, which might work out, since their defensive backfield sucked last year. They're apparently auditioning converted WRs to help plug some holes though, so its quite possible they will continue to struggle, at least in the early goings of the season. They have a possible all-conference linebacker in Marvin Burdette, but the overall talent level is still being upgraded at UAB.
Q: What are UAB's bowl prospects?
A: Slim, unless they can catch some serious mojo in conference play. They have Troy and South Carolina out of conference, and should be crushed by both of them (along with SE Louisiana, who you'd have to hope UAB could beat). They get Tulsa and East Carolina at home, but also have to play CUSA heavies Houston, Southern Miss and Central Florida away. Another 3 win season and flirtations with respectability seems to be all a UAB fan could hope for.
Q: So you're saying the Buckeyes are going to beat the Trogdors?
A: If OSU doesn't beat UAB by 25 points, the Buckeyes are going to have a long year.