Sports Outside the Beltway

Georgia OC Neil Callaway Takes UAB Job

Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway will be the next head football coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

UAB has hired Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway as its football coach, several sources close to the situation confirmed Saturday night. The school will announce Callaway’s hiring at a news conference at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. Callaway signed a five-year contract with UAB; financial terms weren’t immediately available.

Callaway will coach Georgia’s offensive line against Virginia Tech in the Dec. 30 Chick-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Callaway, 51, played for legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1974-77 and also worked as an assistant at Alabama and Auburn.

Callaway replaces Watson Brown, who resigned last week to become coach at Division I-AA Tennessee Tech. Brown, the brother of Texas football coach Mack Brown, had a 62-75 record in 12 seasons as UAB’s coach. The Blazers finished 3-9, 2-6 in Conference USA this season.

I have not followed UAB football since leaving the state four years ago and thought it was silly for them to start a I-A football program at a commuter college in a small state that already had two major programs. Troy made it four a few years later.

That said, it’s odd to me that Watson Brown would leave a I-A program that he inaugurated and which has had more success than most thought possible for a I-AA school.

In the 11 years since Watson Brown arrived at UAB as the head football coach, he has seen amazing growth in Blazer football.

Starting with UAB’s jump from Division I-AA to I-A status in 1996 to the Blazers becoming a football member of Conference USA to their stature as a contender for conference championships, Brown, as the program’s chief architect, has guided UAB football to rapid success. Not bad for a football program that fielded its first team in 1991 at the Division III level.

UAB has progressed steadily through its 10 seasons of competition at the NCAA Division I-A level. The Blazers have been bowl-eligible three times in the past six seasons and in 2004 attained their previously elusive first bowl invitation with a trip to Honolulu to play in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl.

Granted that Brown was born and raised in Tennessee and played his college ball at Vandy, he has coached all over the country since his graduate assistant tenure ended in 1973.

That said, Callaway is a good hire. Georgia is a big-time program and brings instant credibility.

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