Sports Outside the Beltway

Former UAB and NBA Basketball player Alan Ogg dead at 42

Very sad and RIP.

Alan Ogg, a 7-foot-2 shotblocker who played for UAB Blazers and spent parts of three seasons in the NBA, died Sunday from complications from a staph infection, a university spokesman said. He was 42.Ogg

UAB spokesman Norm Reilly said Ogg died at UAB Hospital.

Ogg played 80 NBA games over three seasons beginning in 1990 with the Miami Heat, who had a moment of silence Sunday night before playing Chicago. He also played for Milwaukee and Washington, and averaged 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds during his career.

Ogg is UAB’s career leader with 266 blocked shots over four seasons, averaging more than two a game.


Did Alabama Sabotage UAB Hire of Jimbo Fisher?

Ben Cook of Lindy’s Sports writes about a far-fetched scenario in the Alabama head coaching search:

Everything came out in the open last week when the UAB Blazers of Conference USA were ready to hire LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as their head coach. All that remained was ironing out the details. It was to be for $600,000 a year, most of which was going to be covered by some influential UAB supporters. But then the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama system (which includes the University of Alabama, UAB and UAH) stepped in and said that UAB could not hire Fisher. They claimed it was because of financial considerations, but that excuse doesn’t hold water since the bulk of Fisher’s salary was going to be covered by boosters.

Apparently, the Board of Trustees realized UAB was about to hire the most coveted assistant coach in the country. They realized It also could mean that UAB might wind up with a better coach than Alabama, and the idea panicked the Board of Trustees. They decided that couldn’t happen, so they stepped in and overstepped the boundaries of a Board. They took the hiring of UAB’s coach right out of UAB’s hands. Not only did they not allow UAB to hire Fisher, they then imposed their own handpicked candidate on UAB. They strongly suggested Neil Callaway, Georgia’s offensive coordinator, was the acceptable choice for UAB.

The Board will deny the Callaway link, but after the Fisher debacle there is no other explanation for UAB turning to Callaway, a former Alabama player with no head coaching experience that no other school on the planet was looking to hire. Fisher had no head coaching experience either, but he has been coveted by schools before and will be again; Callaway has not. Fisher is thought to be the next Bob Stoops waiting to happen; Callaway is not.There is one other possible explanation. The Alabama job is still open and there are plenty in Tuscaloosa who believe Nick Saban is going to leave the Miami Dolphins after Miami’s season ends. If Saban were to actually take the UA job, perhaps he would bring his old offensive coordinator from LSU with him, and that would be Jimbo Fisher. Then, in four of five years when Saban got the inevitable itch to move on, it would be an easy move to elevate Fisher to the head coaching job at Alabama, which could be what the UA Board of Trustees wants all along.That way they could achieve two goals–they could get one of the hottest coaches in the country at Alabama and simultaneously knock the pins out from under the UAB football program, making sure it continued to struggle along until perhaps just giving up the ghost and dropping football. That would delight the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

It’s rather bizarre, to be sure, but Alabama football is a pretty strange phenomenon.


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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