What have you done?
Bill Clark has asked his players on the 2019 UAB Football roster that question countless times since January.
You as a team. What have you done?
The answer is easy, and even though fall camp began Wednesday morning, that answer won't begin to change until they kick off the season Aug. 29th against Alabama State at Legion Field. This deep collection of talented players, many of them with names not widely known to the general public, has done nothing to commemorate with a ring or a painting. Yet.
As individuals, many of them have had their moments, but as a team, they haven't won a game. This team hasn't come from behind to beat North Texas or gone to overtime to subdue Southern Miss or outlasted Middle Tennessee on its home field.
The 2018 team did those things and more to capture the first Conference USA and bowl championships in program history, but now's the time to turn the page. It's time for the 2019 team to establish its own identity and put itself in position to win a lot of football games and compete for more championships.
"We've been talking about that since January," Clark said. "We're not going to take a step back."
There have been encouraging offseason signs that the Blazers, while fully enjoying what they accomplished last season, haven't been coasting. Clark said participation in voluntary summer workouts and leadership sessions was close to perfect and on-time attendance. It's just another indication that he and his staff have built a program designed to do much more than put together one dream season.
"We're going to enjoy everything that happened," Clark said, like Sunday night's unveiling of "The Return," Steve Skipper's special limited-edition work of art. "Those are the things that can't be taken away, and we're going to build off those things, but it's time for the next year.
"Someone said, 'What's your favorite ring?' It's what the (New England) Patriots said. It's the next one. This team is looking forward. This team wants the next ring."
If there was any doubt, all you had to do was listen to fully healthy All-Conference USA running back Spencer Brown describe his excitement at returning to the practice field.
"My heart was racing as soon as the first snap happened," Brown said.
The Blazers are well aware of an outside perception that they may have been one-hit wonders a year ago. That perception gained traction when the preseason C-USA media poll picked them to finish fourth in their division.
Reminded of that prediction, Brown smiled at the thought.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion," he said. "We know what we know."
And what do he and his teammates know?
"We're going to repeat."