Mark Ingram is formally introduced by UAB on May 5, 2015. (Source: WBRC video)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle.
Man, was that awkward! That was my first impression after watching the Tuesday's news conference introducing new UAB Director or Athletics Mark Ingram.
As university president Dr. Ray Watts looked on, Ingram stood tall as he made his opening remarks, but then it was the media's turn to ask questions. The first question tossed at Mr. Ingram pertained to, well, the demise of the football program. And then there was another question about the possibility of bringing back to the football program, and then another, and another, and another. Certainly Mr. Ingram knew the questions were coming, but in all honesty, he looked as if he would rather be having his wisdom teeth pulled without Novocaine than standing behind that podium.
What did Ingram offer up in the way of definitive answers? Well, uh, nothing. But in defense of the new AD, he did find himself in a bit of a pickle.
While attempting to remind us about the great things happening on campus (and he's right, there are some great things happening on campus), his responses to those football questions were very similar (surprise) as he went on record saying that he understands the passion fans felt for the football program.
An example of one of his responses: "I think it would be premature for me to comment on that, not being involved enough in the detailed conversation, but we're gonna let this process that's in place play out and do what's appropriate at that time."
From my seat that's the worst comment he could have come up with, but your conversation on my Facebook page clearly illustrates the frustration felt by many UAB supporters.
"He didn't even hint that he supported football…I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but I wasn't impressed," Dakota Nichols wrote.
"Mark Ingram should be judged on his ability to bring football back, keep us in SUSA, and his fundraising abilities. Anything less will be considered a dismal failure," Santiago Lopez said.
"They solidified my decision to stop all donations, ticket purchase, etc. It seems my money was going to Bruno, Khan, and Watts' pockets anyway." said Josh Pavlovec.
Some folks went a bit easier on Ingram.
"I got to talk to Ingram at the baseball game. I have a gut feeling he can be the right person for UAB at this time," John Moody said.
"Give the man time to get in office and start working," Scott Crooks.
I tend to agree with Crooks. Ingram's resume is certainly impressive, as he has been a senior associate athletics director at Temple University. In five years at Tennessee, Ingram spearheaded a drive that netted $336 million. He's been a successful associate AD at Georgia and Missouri, and has been a past member of the SEC Good Works Team.
And you know something? For just a moment on Tuesday I felt sorry for the man. He became emotional when talking about his wife and four children. While a friend of mine joked that the reason Ingram choked up was because he was thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?" the new AD deserves a chance to prove he has the mettle to lead what has been a fractured UAB athletics family.
Of course my olive branch does nothing to one of the most loyal and emotional football fan bases in America. Blazer fans want their football team back, and so do I. Will it happen? While I wouldn't bet the farm, this former Tennessee Vol's football player might just have what it takes to hear both sides. That's something the campus has been lacking for months.
What do you think? Is Mark Ingram the right man or the wrong man for the job? As a passionate UAB fan, you have always spoken your mind. It's your turn to speak.