Missouri analyst Garrick McGee helped expose UAB football shut down 'cover up'

Missouri analyst Garrick McGee helped expose UAB football shut down 'cover up'

Football

Missouri analyst Garrick McGee helped expose UAB football shut down 'cover up'

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee (5-5, 2-4 SEC) will host Missouri (6-4, 2-4 SEC) in Week 12.

For me, former Tennessee head coach and current Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley will not be the only familiar face arriving at Neyland Stadium for the final home game of the season.

Missouri offensive analyst Garrick McGee will also make the trip to Knoxville.

McGee was UAB’s head coach when I worked with UAB football in 2011-12. McGee was hired for the 2012 season after a stint at Arkansas as Bobby Petrino’s offensive coordinator.

His UAB tenure did not go as planned, compiling a 5-19 record and ending with a 62-27 loss to Southern Miss — snapping the Golden Eagles’ 23-game losing streak.

40 days after the season-ending defeat, McGee left his head coaching position at UAB to reunite with Bobby Petrino as offensive coordinator at Louisville.

The move from head coach to an offensive coordinator came as a surprise for many, but eventually made sense on Nov. 27, 2014, when rumors circulated that UAB’s football program would shut down at season’s end.

Two days prior to UAB’s regular season finale at Southern Miss on Nov. 29, 2014, UAB alum Elliot Brindley exchanged messages with McGee.

Brindley asked McGee if he was tipped off about a plan to shut down UAB football before he left for Louisville.

“Yes, no doubt,” McGee responded.

Brindley replied, “we need you to speak out about that, if possible.”

McGee wrote back asking “how can I help” and that “Birmingham needs that football team — and the city will support the program.”

With the final regular season game approaching in 2014, UAB needed to win to become bowl eligible. Brindley pleaded with the former Blazer head coach, saying “we’ve got a little over 24 hours to get the story out before it’s too late.”

Brindley released the conversation with McGee on Twitter, making it public and playing a part in exposing a cover up to shut down UAB football.

McGee replied, “someone from the administration must have saw the Tweets and sent a message to my representation to stay out of it — they know that I know.”

The then-Louisville offensive coordinator ended his exchange with “it seems like a big cover up, let’s just pray that they win the game and really make it hard on everyone.”

UAB went on to defeat Southern Miss and became bowl eligible, but UAB President Ray Watts announced that the program would shut down on Dec. 2, 2014.

After many tireless nights and continuous days of rallying and protesting, including a Sons of UAB spring game at Legion Field in April 2015, the public outcry and Watts coordinating a cover up along with the University of Alabama Board of Trustees was far enough exposed to the point that they were forced to bring back UAB’s football program.

The return was officially announced in June 2015 and Watts and the University of Alabama Board of Trustees now deal with a UAB football program under Bill Clark’s direction that is growing like they never wanted it to grow since its inception in 1991.

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Now, UAB football enters Week 12 of the 2018 season 9-1, ranked No. 25 and has already clinched the Conference-USA West championship.

The Blazers’ 2018 success comes after going 8-5 and a Bahamas Bowl appearance in 2017 — the first season back after not fielding a team in 2015-16.

UAB’s current success will always be appreciated as the program continues to grow, and the fight and unity of UAB alumni, former players, students and fans will never be forgotten in bringing it back.

Brindley discussed how history will view McGee and his relationship with UAB.

“A lot of UAB fans will never have a favorable opinion of McGee due to his lack of success at UAB,” Brindley told Vols Wire. “However, I think it’s possible that when the movie (about UAB football) comes out and people learn more about the circumstances surrounding the program prior to the shut down, people may have more sympathy for McGee. After I talked with McGee, I felt some sympathy for him and I understood why he left. He had the feeling that the administration (UAB President and UAB Board of Trustees) were not supportive of the UAB football program.

“The thing that surprised me most about my conversation with McGee is that he referred to UAB as “we”, despite the fact that he had already been at Louisville for one season. That gave me the feeling that he still felt connected to UAB football and wanted to try to do something to help stop the shut down from happening. However, I also got the feeling that he was worried about the consequences of trying to help UAB football and that he felt like it was useless to even try to stop the shut down from happening. The tone of the conversation changed in the days after the initial messages. I got the feeling that somebody told him to stop trying to help UAB football.”

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Brindley also discussed UAB supporters coming together in saving the program in an around-the-clock approach.

“I feel a strong bond with the people who fought to save UAB football,” Brindley said. “A lot of football programs use the word “family” to describe the bonds between teammates, but at UAB, the expression “UAB family” is about more than the bonds between the players, it is about the bonds between every person who is a part of the program — all of the student-athletes, former student-athletes, alumni, band members, cheerleaders, relatives of student-athletes and former student-athletes.

“When we all get together to tailgate, it really does have the feel of a family reunion, but we also keep in touch with each other on social media throughout the year. It was not like that before UAB football was shut down. As painful as it was to go through that, I am thankful for the close connection that the “UAB family” has now.”

Lastly, Brindley provided his thoughts on if there will be any future threats towards the UAB football program from Board of Trustees.

“I think the BOT will always be something that nags at the UAB football program,” he said. “Hopefully as the UAB fan base continues to grow, we will use the BOT as motivation to continue to support the program in a way that completely negates any potential threat from the BOT in the future. As long as UAB football is self-sustaining, the BOT won’t be able to stop it.”

 

 

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