BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football players have taken a few steps to make sure athletic director Mark Ingram and the university’s administration know they are in favor of interim head coach Bryant Vincent becoming the program’s full-time football head coach.
The football players had a previously scheduled meeting with Ingram on Monday, which was called to talk about several subjects, and a player representative met with the UAB athletic director on Tuesday. The players also sent a letter to UAB president Ray Watts to deliver their message. The player who met with Ingram spoke with 1819 News on Tuesday but asked that his name not be used in the story. He said he reached out to Watts on Monday but was told by a representative of the UAB president that his schedule was “completely full and he wasn’t going to find time to meet with us.”
The player said the team, as a whole, had not met with Ingram since June 27 to talk about the process of finding a full-time replacement for former head coach Bill Clark.
“Our voices haven’t really been heard as players,” the player said. “We haven’t really got to tell him what we want or our opinion of the whole situation. We got to this morning. Don’t really know if it will be taken into consideration. He said, today, that he really valued our opinion, really cared about our opinion, but, he hasn’t talked to any of us.”
The player said he told Ingram beforehand that he had spoken with the team and was representing the team, not just himself. He was asked by 1819 News what message he wanted to get across in the meeting.
“Just that the whole team support is behind Coach V, he’s the coach we want,” the player said. “He’s the guy we believe we need at UAB, to keep our culture the way it is. Going into the (American Athletic Conference), there is going to be enough change already. We want him, he’s a good solid foundation. He’s only had since July to build on this foundation. He’s our guy. Having him as a coach, it means so much to us. This is the coach we want. We don’t want to hear about any other names, we don’t want to hear about bigger names. We don’t care, we want Coach Vincent, that was our message.”
The player said the original plan was to have other team leaders with him during his meeting with Ingram but their class schedules didn’t allow them to be there. In the meeting on Monday, Ingram addressed the team on several matters, according to the player.
“He vaguely described what was going on, said he was wanting to name somebody within the next week and that he’s doing his due diligence to hire the best guy,” the player said. “He may have spoke on the topic for maybe a minute and then he moved on to something else. He didn’t open it up to questions.”
Ingram responded on the matter to 1819 News with the following statement: “President Watts and I are proud of our UAB Football program and the dedicated student-athletes, coaches and staff who have led us to our seventh consecutive season of the team’s bowl eligibility. I am leading a national search with a committee representing the UAB community to identify our next head football coach. I have been aware of the desires expressed by members of the team and appreciate their perspectives that have been taken into account as we close out the search."
The letter sent to Watts conveyed a similar message that the player gave to Ingram.
Oak Mountain High defensive end Emmanuel Waller, a UAB commitment, sent a message supporting Vincent on Twitter.
Ingram said on Saturday that he hoped to have a coach in place when the NCAA Transfer Portal opens on December 5. He said he would talk to some coaches, who had requested they hold off on interviews until their regular season ended. Ingram said he had talked to around 25 coaches about the opening and done formal interviews with about 15 coaches but did not identify any candidate by name. Vincent is one of the coaches who had a formal interview. Other coaches linked to the search include James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti, Western Kentucky head coach Tyson Helton, Birmingham Stallions head coach Skip Holtz and Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom.
The player who spoke to Ingram on Tuesday was asked what he thought the reaction would be if Vincent is not selected.
“I know the mood isn’t going to be happy, that’s for sure,” the player said.
He was also asked if these past few days have been difficult, because of the unknown.
“It’s been difficult all season, if you want to get real,” the player said. “It’s been unknown all year. Now, it’s really distracting. Whatever it is, I’m personally ready for it to be over with, whatever the decision finally is. All year, just the unknown has been another thing we have to fight through. Everybody is just tired of it. We’re worn out mentally, emotionally, we’re just worn out by it.”
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