The Voice of the Blazers, my old friend David Crane, is our guest this week. David is an excellent announcer and is one of the most recognizable figures at UAB. I’ve known David since his days calling baseball and basketball for Alabama. He is kind enough to offer his insight on Saturday’s game between the Bulldogs and Blazers.
What did it mean for the program to win the Conference USA Championship last year?
It was such an unusual season, for everyone, and I think it was a tremendous accomplishment to simply have football in 2020. Like many teams, UAB dealt with cancellations, games being moved around, playing shorthanded – you name it. To win a championship, regardless of the league, was a monumental feat. The team kept its focus, never seemed to let outside forces disrupt things, and likely played its best game of the season at Marshall. Championships are all special, but winning a title in 2020 was truly gratifying.
Can you talk about the resurrection of the program and, what I assume has been, an extremely wide range of emotion?
It would make a great movie! I’ve been asked by more than one person if UAB did it on purpose, or if it was just a PR or marketing stunt. I can assure you, it was no stunt. It was a whirlwind of emotions when it happened … when it was announced they were bringing football back … and when it finally “returned” in 2017. And as gut-wrenching as it all was, the end result is UAB Football is in the best shape it has ever been in. the Birmingham business community stepped up, the Blazer fans stepped up, and we are all enjoying the benefits of what happens when something is taken away, people realize how much it meant, and proceed to fight tooth and nail to get it back.
Bill Clark has proven himself to be an outstanding head football coach, what does he mean to the Blazer faithful?
He means the world to UAB fans. He took over the program when it was near rock bottom and got the Blazers bowl-eligible in his first season. A couple of days later, the program was shuttered. While a number of people battled to bring it back, he promised that if it happened, he’d stick around. He was true to his word, and now they may need to expand the trophy case!
What is your take on Georgia?
National Title contender … one of the nation’s elite programs … and one of the great game day atmospheres in all of college football. I’m answering these questions after UAB’s season-opening win and before Georgia squares off against Clemson, so we don’t know if it’s going to be some happy Bulldogs or an angry bunch next Saturday in Athens. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, UAB will be facing far-and-away the best team it has seen in several years. It’s a tremendous challenge for the Blazers, but it’s also a chance to see how the Green and Gold compares to a top-10, maybe top-5 team, in a hostile environment on national television.
What does UAB need to do to win?
Play defense the way it has for the last three years. It all starts on that side of the ball if the Blazers are going to have a chance. UAB has been in the top-10 nationally in total defense in each of the last three years, and they pitched a shutout in the opener against Jacksonville State. If they can give that kind of effort in Athens, the Blazers should be in it. The offense will need some big plays and a big performance from the offensive line. It is a veteran group that allowed only four sacks all last season. Tyler Johnston III was outstanding in the opening game, and he throws the deep ball as well as anyone I’ve ever seen – but he’s got to have time in the pocket. It will be fun to watch the battle in the trenches to see how UAB stacks up against Georgia.
What are the Blazers’ goals this season?
The expectations have just gone through the roof. They’ve won three straight division titles and two of the last three C-USA Championships. With the talent and the depth on this roster, I think another title is certainly on the “to do list.” Maybe the ultimate goal is to not just play in the championship game, but be the host. UAB is opening a brand new stadium in downtown Birmingham in early October, and to be able to host the title game, for the first time, in a new stadium would be awfully special.
What are some of your most memorable broadcasting moments?
It’s hard to believe I’m in my 15th year at UAB. Probably the most memorable moments came in the 2017 season. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to call football again, so the first game back was special. Later that season, UAB blocked a field goal against Louisiana Tech to seal the upset at Legion Field, and that was about as loud as I’ve heard the Old Gray Lady in a long, long time. The championship games were memorable, and I’ll always remember my first game at UAB – a trip to East Lansing. The game was forgettable, but it was the realization of a lifelong dream for me. I’m mighty lucky to get to do this for a living, and I can’t wait to call a game in Athens!