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The UAB Blazers football team represents the University of Alabama at Birmingham and competes as part of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), as a member of the East Division of Conference USA (C-USA). UAB plays its home games at Legion Field, which is located off-campus in Birmingham, Alabama. The current head coach of the team is Garrick McGee. With a capacity of 71,594, Legion Field is currently the third largest college football stadium in the state of Alabama and the 40th largest football stadium in the US. On February 3, 2011, it was announced that UAB would be moving forward with plans to build a horseshoe-shaped stadium on campus with an estimated seating capacity of around 30,000.
The origins of football at UAB begin with the play of an organized club football team in 1989. After two years competing as a club football team, on March 13, 1991, UAB President Charles McCallum and athletic director Gene Bartow announced that the university would compete in football as a NCAA Division III team beginning in the fall of 1991, with Jim Hilyer serving as the first head coach.
From 1991 to 1992, UAB competed as a Division III Independent, and during this period, the Blazers compiled an 11–6–2 overall record. During this period, the Blazers played their first all-time game on September 7, 1991, a 28–0 loss at Millsaps, and notched their first all-time win on September 21, 1991, a 34–21 victory at Washington & Lee. After only a pair of seasons at the Division III level, a NCAA ruling resulted in the Blazers being reclassified as a I-AA team for the 1993 season. The reclassification was a result of the NCAA prohibiting a school's athletic program from being multi-divisional, and since UAB already competed in Division I in other sports, the move became necessary. In their first game as a I-AA team, the Blazers would lose to Troy State 37–3 before a home crowd on September 6, 1993. By 1994, the Blazers would play their first I-A opponent against Kansas. Following the 1994 season, coach Hilyer would resign with Watson Brown being announced as the program's second ever coach on January 2, 1995.
During the 1995 season the Blazers would notch their first ever victory over a I-A opponent on the road against North Texas by a final score of 19–14. From 1993 to 1995, UAB competed as a Division I-AA Independent, and during this period compiled a 21–12 overall record before making the jump to Division I-A for the 1996 season.
Watson Brown came to UAB from Oklahoma, where he served as offensive coordinator. On November 9, 1995, UAB was officially informed by the NCAA that the school had met all requirements for reclassification, and as such the Blazers would enter the 1996 season as an I-A Independent. In their first I-A game, UAB was defeated by in-state rival Auburn 29–0, and would finish their first I-A season with a 5–6 overall record. Already a participating member in other sports, on November 13, 1996, Conference USA commissioner Mike Slive announced that UAB would be admitted to the league as a football playing member for the 1999 season.
Since the transition to I-A, UAB has made a habit of playing many of college football's traditional powers. In 2000, UAB achieved a monumental victory by beating LSU in Baton Rouge. In 2004, UAB reached yet another milestone earning their first bowl trip in school history, the Hawaii Bowl.
After being the face of the program for twelve years, on December 9, 2006, Watson Brown resigned as UAB's head coach to take the head coaching position at Tennessee Tech.
Following Brown's resignation, former Alabama player and Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway was named head coach on December 17, 2006. Callaway led the Blazers to the school's worst season (2–10), dropping the program's all-time record under .500 for the first time in school history.
On November 27, 2011, Callaway was fired as UAB's head coach having compiled a record of 18 wins and 42 losses (18–42) during his five years with the Blazers.
On December 4, 2011, UAB officials announced they hired Garrick McGee to serve as the fourth head coach in the history of the program. McGee is the first African American head football coach in UAB football history. The Blazers posted a 3-9 record in McGee's first season as head coach and a 2-10 in his second.