It was just December when UAB football players found out their football program would be shutting down indefinitely, due to what president Ray Watts called financial problems. The story behind it is a little more complicated, allegedly involving a long-held grudge between Alabama Board of Trustees member Paul Bryant Jr. (the son of legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant) and former UAB coach and athletic director Gene Bartow.
The Blazers' basketball program made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed after a surprise Conference USA tournament championship, and were rewarded with a matchup with No. 3 seed Iowa State, fresh off a Big 12 tournament championship.
The UAB faithful showed up to the game in Louisville, and made their voices heard.
There are "FIRE RAY WATTS" signs & chants here at the UAB basketball game. (UAB prez)— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 19, 2015
Entire UAB section has been chanting fire UAB President Ray Watts for five consecutive minutes— Chris Hatfield (@_ChrisHatfield) March 19, 2015
The difficult past year for the Blazers' athletes made the result even sweeter on Thursday: UAB pulled off the tournament's first big upset, beating the Cyclones 60-59.
UAB's former football players are happy and defiant.
March 19, 2015
Proud of the UAB boys today. Got the upset! #NCAA 2nd round— Darion Copeland (@_Dazz_93) March 19, 2015
Now everybody want to jump on board with UAB. If you wasn't on board from the beginning then don't… https://t.co/1GW3vaIb6N— Joe Webb (@JoeWebb_14) March 19, 2015
But real talk, we better not win too many more games this tournament or our basketball program might get shut down too.. #FreeUAB #GoBlazers— james ♛jimmy♛ banks (@jbanks_36) March 19, 2015
My bracket still a lot of Yall can't say that now #FreeUAB— Rodney Morris (@dat_morriskid) March 19, 2015
Go Blazers— Roddy White (@roddywhiteTV) March 19, 2015
"@_jamiebean: Well there goes my bracket....."Smh.. ✋— Darius Powell (@DP_OneThree) March 19, 2015
Let the Internet celebrate with you, Blazers.
Playoff games won in revenue sports this season: UAB 1, Alabama 0.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) March 19, 2015