A major college program has just announced the hiring of its new head coach. Former NFL quarterback and Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens, Trent Dilfer, will take over the UAB job. What kind of experience does Dilfer have, and will he be a good fit for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers?
Trent Dilfer’s Resume
Trent Dilfer is best known for his Super-Bowl-winning season as a quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. He started the year as a backup before taking over the starting job. Dilfer had just 1,502 passing yards in 11 regular season games for the Ravens, but the dominant defense led Baltimore to its first-ever Super Bowl victory. Dilfer remains the only Super-Bowl-winning quarterback not to return to their original team the following season.
Dilfer played in the NFL from 1994 to 2007. He was originally drafted by the Tamp Bay Buccaneers with the sixth overall pick and became a full-time starter in his second season. Dilfer earned his first and only Pro Bowl honors in 1997 by posting a career-high 21 touchdown passes. After one year with the Ravens, Dilfer spent four seasons in Seattle before moving on to the Browns and, finally, the 49ers.
After his playing career was complete, Dilfer went into broadcasting. He spent a couple of years with NFL Network before going to ESPN.
Trent Dilfer got his first head coaching job in 2019 for the Lipscomb Academy, a private prep school in Nashville. The team went 5-5 in his first season as head coach before playing for the Division II Class AA State Championship in each of the following three seasons.
Dilfer has compiled a 43-10 coaching record in four seasons. He led the Mustangs to a state championship last season and will be playing for one on December 1, 2022, marking the end of his tenure at Lipscomb. The UAB job will be Dilfer’s first coaching job at the collegiate level. He played his college football at Fresno State.
Trent Dilfer also was a coach for the Elite 11 Academy, which trains top-level high school quarterbacks. As a result, he has had the opportunity to prepare most of today’s current NFL starters and Power 5 starting quarterbacks as they transitioned from high school to college.
Is UAB a Good Place For Dilfer?
The UAB football team has an interesting history. Despite the university becoming a part of the University of Alabama system in 1969, the football program began play in 1989. The Blazers started as a club football team before becoming a Division III team in 1991. UAB joined Division I in 1993 before becoming a part of Conference USA in 1999, where they have remained through 2022.
The Blazers recorded their first-ever bowl appearance in 2004 during the coaching tenure of Watson Brown. However, after Brown left in 2006, the program fell into a pattern of losing. Head coach Neil Callaway led the Blazers to a record of 18-42 over five seasons before Garrick McGee coached UAB to a 5-19 record the following two years.
UAB brought in Bill Clark as a head coach in 2014. He led the Blazers to a 6-6 record before the university announced it was ending its football program. The decision sparked outrage within the community and the University of Alabama trustees. This led to fundraising efforts which provided the necessary resources to run a credible football program.
UAB retained head coach Bill Clark when they resumed playing in 2017. A new practice facility was opened in 2017, and the Blazers moved their games to brand new city-owned Protective Stadium in 2021. UAB appeared in a bowl game their first year after the break before winning their first-ever conference championship and bowl game in the 2018 season.
Clark coached UAB through 2021 and recorded a 49-26 record over six seasons. The program had five bowl-eligible seasons, which included two bowl-game wins. The 54-year-old coach retired due to back problems. Clark was replaced by offensive coordinator Bryan Vincent.
Vincent coached the Blazers in 2022 under the interim coach tag. The team went 6-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play earning a birth in the Bahamas Bowl. In addition, Vincent was popular among Blazers players, who advocated he remains the head coach. Players sent letters to the school president and even posted them on social media. Ultimately, the school conducted a national search to bring in the best guy for the future.
Trent Dilfer seems like an excellent fit for the job at UAB. He was a proven quarterback at the college and NFL levels. Dilfer knows how to coach, evident in his high school coaching performance and the coaching of young elite quarterbacks at the private academy.
UAB enters a transition period going into 2023. The school will move from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. This more competitive conference will be a massive test for the program. Trent Dilfer is tasked with turning UAB football into a nationally prominent program. His name and experiences should go a long way in pursuing that goal. It will be interesting to see how far Trent Dilfer can take the up and coming college program.