Saluting UAB football's epic home run
You lose, you bitch. That's the way it works most places, more so here when it comes to football. The more you win, the more you bitch when you lose because you don't expect it and you don't want to accept it.
Look at the line at the complaint department since Louisiana 24, UAB 20. Shouldn't have kicked deep at the end of the first half, not to that big-time return man, who took it the distance, never mind what coulda woulda shoulda been a block in the back or two. Shouldn't have thrown deep late in the game, not with a young quarterback still learning on the job, and sure enough, what could've been a game-winning drive became a killer interception.
The angst runs deep even after losing a close game to a quality opponent, especially because it means the end of "The Streak," which was a living, fire-breathing, inspiring thing that deserves nothing less than capital letters and quotation marks. After winning 21 straight home games, after not losing in Birmingham since The Return in 2017, after coming thisclose to departing Legion Field for good on a magic carpet ride measured in years, UAB took the L.
One man's two cents: Too much has been made of the loss. Not enough has been made of "The Streak." It should go down in history as the return on The Return, along with one conference championship and two division titles with more to come. Birmingham brought the program back. UAB brought the city to its feet. Again and again and again. Not a bad deal.
Remember the 2017 blocked kick at the buzzer to beat Louisiana Tech in the inaugural Children's Harbor game? We close our eyes and we see you, Stacy Keely. Who could forget the 2018 division clincher in overtime against Southern Miss? Run, Spencer Brown, run. "The Streak" put the bond between the program and the city on full display at the city's most famous sporting landmark for every cynic, skeptic, doubter and hater to see.
In hindsight, "The Streak" is all the more amazing because of what went down before. In the dark ages BC - before Bill Clark - it took UAB 10 years to win 21 home games. The longest home winning streak in the decade from 2004-2013: Three. Which equaled and explained the number of head coaches in that time.
Clark's Blazers won three home games in his first season in 2014, lost the last one - a gut punch with victory in reach against undefeated Marshall - then watched the program disappear. When it came back, no one could have envisioned 3 ½ years of nothing but blue skies, even at night, at the Old Gray Lady. It seems important to acknowledge that historic run even as fans passionately and not incorrectly discuss what went wrong Friday night - all the flags, flags, flags, flags - and how to learn from it to take the program to the next level.
Unless the Blazers finish with Conference USA's best record to bring the C-USA Championship Game home or COVID throws a curve, two more crosstown trips remain: Nov. 14 against North Texas and Nov. 27 against Southern Miss. That last game falls on Black Friday, which has a different meaning to longtime UAB fans than it does to way-too-early Christmas shoppers.
That day will be worth its own celebration with the move to Protective Stadium on the horizon, even though the Blazers didn't quite run the table for four full and glorious years on their way out the door. Instead "The Streak" will live as a memory and UAB will stand on 21, a winning hand unlike any this program has come close to producing before.
Before the Blazers take another snap, we should all take a moment to appreciate it.