When it comes to football – whether he's running an offense or running the entire team – routine is very important to Bryant Vincent.

He's followed that routine through his first fall camp running the UAB football program. He'll carry it into the final few days before the first game. And he'll certainly carry that to the team hotel on Wednesday night when the coaching staff finalizes preparations for the season-opening game against Alabama A&M.

"I'm a routine guy, all the way up to the night before the game, how we play about the game in our minds as a staff," Vincent said. "It's like a rehearsal going into it. Everything is kind of on point, just staying in our routine of what we do here, what we've done here. All of our traditions, all of our routines here, it's the same."

There is one big game day difference. He will be the first one off the bus outside Protective Stadium and the first one taking a step in Blazer Walk.

"Being the offensive coordinator here the last several years, obviously, it is different when you step into the head coaching position, but it's football," Vincent said. "We're getting our team ready to play, we're excited, we get to play at home. We're excited, man. I'm excited to lead this team, for this university, for this town, and excited just to kick off the 2022 season."

One day in the future, the UAB head coach, whether it be Vincent or someone else, may have to finish Blazer Walk on Protective Stadium game days by walking past a statue honoring Bill Clark. The former UAB head coach, who brought the program back from death and turned it into one of the better Group of 5 programs in the country, meant that much to this program.

For now, though, Vincent simply moves forward under the considerable shadow of an ultra-successful coach, whose teams won a pair of Conference USA championships, reached bowl eligibility every year since The Return in 2017, and won three successive division titles for the first time in C-USA history.

"I don't know if there's any one player or any one man that's as important to UAB football than Bill Clark," Vincent said. "I think his legacy here is cemented. His leadership, all the things he's done for this football team and led this program and this town through, it's unprecedented. Bill Clark is UAB football. To be able to replicate that is just not going to happen. Bill Clark will always be one of the founding fathers, one of the guys who got UAB to where it's at now."

Vincent's role is to carry the program forward, whether it be for one season or beyond.

"For me, I'm Bryant Vincent. I'm not Bill Clark," Vincent said. "Bill is a mentor of mine. He's a close friend of mine. I wake up every day and attack this job with the emphasis of trying to make him proud. I am going to be Bryant Vincent. I have a lot of pride. I have a lot of passion for this football program and this university. My goal and my passion is to continue everything that Coach Clark built for this city and this university and to continue to raise the standards and elevate the standards and go out and chase another conference championship."

The chase begins on Thursday against an Alabama A&M team featuring plenty of the unknown. Vincent said they have a roster flooded with transfer portal players and possibly could have 11 first-time defensive starters.

"Anytime you open up a season, in game one, there's always variables, always things you haven't seen," Vincent said. "Things you haven't prepared for, people putting new wrinkles in schematically. We feel like our team is prepared to handle it by what we do in practice every day. This team is ready and excited to play this game."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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