Oh, wait. That's no ghoul. It's not Bear Bryant, who died in 1983.
It's his son, Paul Bryant Jr.
|Neil Callaway wasn't exactly UAB's top choice. (Getty Images)|
We'll get to Little Bear's background in a minute, but for now, understand something. The UAB football program just made the most dreadful hire of the offseason, hiring someone with questionable experience and character. His name is Neil Callaway, the offensive coordinator at Georgia, which you might have noticed was horrible this season on offense. The last thing Callaway did of note was plead guilty to DUI charges in 2003.
This is the new UAB coach. He's a lousy choice. Which is apparently what Little Bear wanted.
Little Bear sits on the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. From there, he wields all sorts of authority over Alabama and its state step-sister, UAB. Little Bear, who once gave $10 million to the Crimson Tide athletics department, is close friends with Alabama AD Mal Moore, who keeps his job despite a proven inability to pick a quality football coach.
What happens to Alabama football, however, is not our concern. Bear Bryant Sr. built the Crimson Tide into the South's most fearsome franchise, and if his boy tears it all the way down, well, there is symmetry in that.
What has happened this month to UAB, however, is an outrage. Essentially, Little Bear's Board of Trustees blocked UAB from hiring the football coach it wanted. Twice. And the second time, Little Bear's Board stopped UAB from hiring the coach it wanted because, presumably, the coach UAB wanted -- Jimbo Fisher -- might also be wanted by Alabama.
Ugly, but that's the deal, based on SportsLine.com conversations with sources close to the situation.
After being blocked by the Board of Trustees in its quest to promote assistant coach Pat Sullivan, who became head coach at Samford, UAB turned to LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. UAB and Fisher agreed on basic contractual terms, with half of Fisher's annual UAB salary -- ballpark: $600,000 -- to be subsidized by private boosters.
UAB was going to get the coach it wanted, a coach whose rumored arrival already was waking up the comatose UAB football program -- yet would have been on the hook for less salary than ex-coach Watson Brown, who made $375,000. It was perfect.
Little Bear's Board of Trustees said no. You want to know why? So do I, but Little Bear wouldn't return my messages. So here's the theory I'm working on, a theory based on conversations with multiple sources with a vested interest in UAB football: