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The closest Conference USA opponent outside of Florida for FIU are the UAB Blazers. However, the Panthers and the Blazers are not just close in proximity. FIU begins its 12th season of football Aug. 31 when the Panthers open at Maryland. Unlike many of FIU's opponents that began playing football more than 50 and sometimes 100 years ago, UAB started football in 1991. UAB also has part of FIU's former nickname.
FIU is one of the largest universities in the nation. UAB is a very large part of Birmingham, especially when itcomes to the local economy.
Although UAB has had some big upset wins in football, the Blazers have been most successful in men's basketball.
UAB has an interesting history with its mascot as the former UAB mascot was almost taken to court and sued.
In the previous FIU’s Conference USA Opponents Series you got to know:
East Carolina Pirates
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Marshall Thundering Herd
Old Dominion Monarchs
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Tulane Green Wave
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Let's take a visit to Alabama and learn a little about UAB. . . .
As you might guess from the name, the University of Alabama at Birmingham or UAB, started out as part of the University of Alabama. Yes, that Roll Tide school with the one-season former Miami Dolphins coach and where FIU’s former coach is at now.
In 1936, in response to the rapid growth of the Birmingham metropolitan area and the need for the population to have easy access to a university education, the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa established the Birmingham Extension Center, which would eventually become UAB.
UAB is the state of Alabama's largest employer, with more than 18,000 faculty and staff and over 53,000 jobs at the university and in the health system. Since 1969, UAB has undergone extensive growth and is sometimes jokingly referred to as "The University that Ate Birmingham.”
LIKE OLD FIU
When it comes to its name UAB has some similarities to FIU. First of all, both schools want to be known by their respective initials. It’s UAB and not the University of Alabama at Birmingham – that’s a mouth full.
UAB’s nickname is the Blazers, which was part of FIU’s old nickname – theSunblazers. I still think Sunblazers is one of the most original team nicknames and very appropriate considering where FIU is located.
UAB’s main rivalry was against Memphis, when the Tigers were in Conference USA. The UAB-Memphis football rivalry is called the Battle for the Bones (sometimes known as "The Bar-B-Q Bowl"). As part of the pregame tailgate, both professional and amateur barbecue contests are staged. The winner of the game receives a traveling 100-pound bronze rack of ribs trophy, known as “The Bones” trophy.
DON’T PLAY A GAME OF CHICKEN WITH A CHICKEN
The most beloved UAB mascot was Beauregard T. Rooster (above left) which was almost taken to court and sued by the San Diego Chicken (above right). True story:
The San Diego Chicken, which is the San Diego Padres mascot, said Beauregard resembled the San Diego Chicken too much so the San Diego Chicken threatened legal action if UAB did not make a change to its mascot.
Before Beauregard (B.B.), UAB tried a dragon mascot but that failed to catch on with fans. Then UAB athletic director Gene Bartow heard about UAB employee Frank Sutherland's Halloween costume, which was a chicken. Bartow invited Sutherland – in costume -- to appear at basketball games. Eventually the mascot was adopted by the athletics department a few years later and then dropped when the San Diego Chicken promised to sue.
Blaze the Viking succeeded Beauregard in 1993 before the present Blaze the Dragon mascot made his debut in 2005.
ANNIE GET YOUR RIFLE
UAB started a rifle program, yes it is considered an NCAA sport, in the early 1980s. At first it was just a men’s sport, but in 1997 the UAB rifle team changed to an all women’s sport. In the sport of rifle, the NCAA does not differentiate between men or women’s teams nor are there divisions. Every college that has a rifle program competes against each other. There is no Division I, II, III, etc.
Some of the more notable UAB alums include: Vonetta Flowers, Olympic Gold-medalist, Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White, Graeme McDowell (pro golfer, winner of 2010 U.S. Open).
UAB may have an 11-year head start on FIU in football, but the Panthers have played in one more bowl game than the Blazers. UAB’s lone bowl appearance came in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl where it lost to Hawaii.
UAB had a synchronized swimming team, also considered an NCAA sport, but the program was eventually dropped.
In January 1978, a campus-wide vote bestowed the nickname "Blazers" on the team, hoping that the teams would "blaze" a new trail in college athletics.
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