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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

Today UAB and Birmingham make history

Understand. This is more than just another college football Saturday. This is one of the most important college football Saturdays in the history of the most passionate college football town in America. It ranks right there with the day the Bear won No. 315 to set a record, the day Bo went over the top to reignite a rivalry and the day the SEC launched a championship game.

Today is the start of something good and special and lasting. Today the Football Capital of the South stops living in the past. When the gates open at Protective Stadium for an actual, honest-to-goodness college football game, starring Birmingham's own college football team, in a state-of-the-art facility in a vibrant, growing part of the city, a door opens to a future limited only by the imagination and courage of its leaders.

Acknowledge. Without UAB football, there is no Protective Stadium. Without a UAB program with a first-class head coach and a first-class, on-campus Football Operations Center, this coalition of university, city, county and state never would've put aside its petty differences and pulled together to pull off a project of this magnitude.

Protective Stadium will welcome other special events, but year-in and year-out, UAB football will be its beating heart like the world-class university that pumps rich, fresh blood through Birmingham's veins every day. It's been said before but bears repeating today. What's good for UAB is good for Birmingham. That's never been more true than today.

Believe. It would take a lot longer than 60 minutes of football time to recognize everyone who played a part in bringing UAB football back and bringing Protective Stadium to life. The roll call starts with Gene Bartow, the Green and Gold Godfather, who believed in UAB when that belief required a serious leap of faith. The long roster of true believers continues through a squadron of players, coaches, administrators and fans who bled green and gold with no obvious reward and then, under the stellar leadership of Bill Clark, made it cool to be a Blazer.

This day is for them, for all of them, for all the indigestion and indignities and Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown moments they suffered, for refusing to accept the shutdown and fueling The Return. They've been rewarded with championships, plural, but UAB football has never won the day the way it will today when the first game in its first true home kicks off.

Funny. The same day UAB plays Liberty, it finds freedom. You can't script it, but you should savor every second. Senior workhorse Spencer Brown said it last December after carrying the Blazers to their second Conference USA Championship Game victory in three years. He uttered a simple, powerful phrase that resonates today.

"UAB legit. That's it." More than ever today thanks to this first real home to call its own.

Understand it. Acknowledge it. Believe it.

For the first time, UAB football has a home it can call its own in brand-new Protective Stadium. (UAB Athletics photo)



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