The ideal situation for UAB is for Garrick McGee to be on the sidelines this fall. McGee has injected a lot of positive energy into a program that was in desperate need of it. He has hired a staff that seems to be changing the culture that surrounds the Blazers. Despite the early momentum, the possibility still exists that McGee could leave the Southside quicker than his mentor Bobby Petrino left the Atlanta Falcons. While Blazer fans would rather nothing change, UAB football could continue to make positive strides without McGee.
It’s surprising the number of journalists and fans that consider this possible outcome a major setback to the program’s future. From it’s very start, it has been under the shadow of Alabama and Auburn while playing in a hand-me-down stadium (that is currently falling apart as you read this). It has survived coaching complacency and controversy. The program doesn’t even get a level playing field from it’s own board of trustees. So how does losing McGee become the straw that breaks the Blazers’ back?
There is no question that McGee has brought excitement back to UAB football, but the energy first began before he donned a green tie. Fans finally felt that UAB had hired who they wanted, when they wanted. Many fans and boosters never fully accepted Neil Callaway because they felt that he was forced upon them by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees. This was not the case with McGee, and rest assured that UAB Director of Athletics Brian Mackin will pick McGee’s successor if he decided to leave.
McGee put more emphasis on in-state recruiting with the goal being to make UAB a logical choice for the state’s vast high school talent. Assistant coach Tyson Helton had already started this process before the coaching change, but McGee pushed down the gas peddle. It would be hard to imagine that any coach that could replace McGee would move in a different direction. McGee has focused on showing recruits and coaches the positive things UAB can offer and with a new head coach that strategy would not change.
He has separated himself from previous coaches by utilizing local media and events to reach out to the UAB fanbase like never before. McGee has been a guest on a variety of sports radio programs, opened up practices to Blazer fans, and traveled across the central portion of the state to meet current fans and make new ones during “Blazer Caravans”. If you attended any of these events, you probably received an email from McGee thanking you for stopping by. In addition to stirring up the fanbase, his administration has made a point to reach out to former players, renewing their interest in UAB football in the process.
If rumors become reality and McGee leaves to pursue other opportunities, he will have left the program with a new burst of energy and tools to continue making major strides on and off the field. His departure would not be a major setback…it would be just another bump in road. Success will come by keeping the program moving on that road.
Fans may be overreacting to rumors and speculation because they’ve never experienced having a football coach in such demand. This validates the hire by Brian Mackin…who will still be here whether McGee is or not. Hopefully, none of this comes to fruition and McGee does stay at the helm. Most fans would say that UAB football is in a better position right now than it was four months ago…and that won’t change even if the head coach does.
-Written by Tyler Cantrell, edited by Mitchell Miller.