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UAB hires Trent Dilfer as coach: Super Bowl-winning QB a surprising choice to lead Blazers

UAB has hired former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer as its next coach, sources close to the situation tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. The Blazers will release a media advisory at noon ET to formally announce the move and hold a news conference at 5:30 p.m.

Dilfer, who played 14 years in the NFL for five different franchises from 1994 to 2007 and won a Super Bowl as quarterback of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, most recently completed his fourth season as head coach of Lipscomb Academy, a private high school in Nashville, Tennessee, that has amassed a 38-8 record under his leadership.

That school released a statement Wednesday explaining Dilfer’s departure.

“A few moments ago, Coach Trent Dilfer met with members of the high school football team to let them know that he is stepping down as head coach of the program,” director Brad Schultz wrote. “Later today, the University of Alabama-Birmingham is officially announcing the appointment of Coach Dilfer as the head coach of the UAB Blazers. The timing of this release is not ideal with the Div II-AA State Championship game tomorrow. But, because the information was leaked overnight and is being reported in national media, we needed to share this news with our community. We are coordinating with the UAB athletics department on the timing of the official public announcement, which will take place later today. We intend to keep the focus on our student-athletes and support them as they head to Chattanooga today in preparation for the championship game tomorrow.”

In addition to his Super Bowl ring, Dilfer earned a Pro Bowl nod while leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997. Prior to the NFL, Dilfer won the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the best passer in America after throwing for 3,799 yards, 30 touchdowns and five interceptions as a signal caller at Fresno State. 

After his NFL retirement, Dilfer moved into the media as an analyst for ESPN and Fox. He is also deeply involved in the annual Elite 11 quarterback competition, which which brings together the best high school quarterback recruits in the country each year. 

While Lipscomb Academy is a highly competitive team that is developing numerous FCS prospects, Dilfer does not have any experience coaching at the collegiate level. In fact, his four-year stretch at Lipscomb is his only experience coaching organized team football at any level.

Dilfer has worked closely with players as a quarterback coach but only as an individual trainer. If Dilfer does get the UAB job, convincing two-year starter Dylan Hopkins and Baylor transfer Jacob Zeno to remain out of the transfer portal would give him a talented group of signal callers with whom he could work in year 1.

Dilfer received criticism in 2021 after a video of him shoving a player went viral. He later apologized for the incident.

Dilfer stands in stark contract to UAB’s last full-time coach, Bill Clark. Prior to joining South Alabama as a defensive coordinator in 2008, Clark had 18 years of high school football coaching experience across Alabama and Georgia. 

Clark went 11-4 in one season at Jacksonville State in 2013 before being hired at UAB, where he led the Blazers to a 6-6 record before the program shut down. Clark then led an effort to resurrect UAB football, which succeeded with the program being reinstated in 2017. Despite needing to almost completely rebuild the program, Clark led the Blazers to five straight winning seasons and two Conference USA championships (2018, 2020). He was also twice named the CBS Sports Coach of the Year and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year in 2018.

Clark, 54, resigned before the 2022 season due to back problems. His offensive coordinator, Bryan Vincent, took over as interim coach and led UAB to a 6-6 record.

After the season, Blazers players wrote a letter to UAB president Ray Watts in an effort to have him retain Vincent as the permanent coach. Watts declined to meet with players for their input during the coaching search. 

Abdullah Anaman
Abdullah Anaman
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