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January 19, 2014

The Envelope Please

The search for a new head coach at UAB appears to be winding down. Most observers look for an introductory press conference by Tuesday, at the latest. The Blazers have been in search of a coach since former head coach Garrick McGee bolted for Louisville and his former boss Bobby Petrino on January 9th.

McGee compiled a mediocre 5-19 record while at UAB. He arrived in December of 2011 to much fanfare and hoopla, but failed to ever put a team on the field that came close to matching his promises.

As McGee's struggles mounted he, according to sources within the athletic department and members of the media, became more isolated and increasingly difficult to work with. His tenure ended in a crushing 62-27 defeat at home to a Southern Miss team that came into Legion Field riding a 23 game losing streak.

At that time McGee apparently began to see the handwriting on the wall and realized he was facing a do or die year in 2014. His decision was likely a "career saving" decision speculated one member of the athletic department.

Athletic Director Brian Mackin found himself inundated with calls and resumes. After a few days to sift through the names Mackin and his team apparently interviewed six candidates.

As the interviews unfolded clarity began to set in and it appears three names have emerged as frontrunners. These names were derived from several convrsations and not from anyone associated with the search identifying anyone as a front runner.

They are believed to be frontrunners; in alphabetical order.

Bill Clark - Currently the head football coach at Jacksonville State University, Clark previously served as defensive coordinator at South Alabama and for many years as head football coach at perennial state power Ptratville High School. Clark led Jax State to an 11-4 record and the quarterfinals of the FBS play-offs. Coming from Jax State and USA Clark, most likely, would not be troubled by some of the unaddressed facility needs at UAB. He would be well connected with high school coaches throughout the state from his many years serving at the high school level.

Eddie Gran - Currently the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati, Gran previously served as running backs coach at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss. Gran is know as a relentless recruiter and has enjoyed a substantial amount of success recruiting, particularly in talent rich south Florida. He too would be well connected with high school coaches throughout not just only Alabama but also in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Gran's Cincinnati team broke numerous schools records with a very uptempo offense last season.

Jim Grobe - Retired in November from Wake Forest after 13 years as head of the Demon Deacon program. Grobe notched a 77-82 record at Wake Forest. Prior to his arrival at Wake he served six years at Ohio University where his record was 33-33-1. In 2006 Grobe led Wake Forest an 11-3 record, they were ACC champions for the first time since 1970 and played in a BCS bowl game. Grobe has proven experience and has won at places where winning has not come easy. He has no known ties to Alabama - but does have the most experience of any of the candidates mentioned thus far.

UAB has also interviewed Brian Jenkins from Bethune-Cookman, Chris Scelfo of the Atlanta Falcons, and former head coach at Tulane and South Alabama head coach Joey Jones.

Rumors have popped up that a "big name" coach was in the mix. Some media outlets identified that coach as Tommy Bowden but sources close to the search dismissed that speculation. Akron head coach Terry Bowden has also been speculated as a possibility - but that too seems very unlikely.

Fans have expressed concern about the timing of McGee's resignation. This year's recruiting efforts had been below par for Conference USA, as were McGee's two previous classes. While there is certainly time being lost while the search goes on it is widely believed by those close to the program that ultimately the change will lead to much better recruiting than was seen during the McGee era.

The search is almost over - all that's left is to sit back and see who's name is read when the envelope is opened.


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