Unless that box expands after Jeff Saturday, UAB will go outside the box with its next head coach.
The school announced Wednesday that it has hired former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, a man with no coaching experience at the collegiate level, to lead its football program.
Dilfer is currently the head coach at Lipscomb Academy in Tennessee. Dilfer will coach Lipscomb in Thursday’s state championship before officially committing to UAB on Friday, Dec. 2.
“Trent is a proven winner at all levels on and off the court and will be an outstanding leader for our program,” said UAB athletic director Mark Ingram. “He’s a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who has played the game at the highest level for years and has coached some of the best quarterbacks who are now franchise players in the NFL. Trent’s goal and vision for our program is to lead UAB to the top. “We have no doubt that he is the right coach to lead our transition to the Football Playoffs and the American Athletic Conference.”
The UAB job was open following the retirement of former head coach Bill Clark, who announced in June that he was leaving the program due to back problems. Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent served as the school’s interim coach and went 6-6 in the Bahamas Bowl.
Clark was the architect of UAB’s rebirth, assembling the roster just a few years after watching the program shut down. He left Birmingham with a 49-26 record, and now Dilfer will be tasked with maintaining that record as the program moves to the American Athletic Conference next season.
Trent Dilfer is an unconventional hire at UAB
Dilfer has only coached high schoolers, so his hiring comes as a surprise. At Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, he posted a 43-10 record over four seasons.
Dilfer also served as the head coach for the Elite 11 quarterback camp, an annual competition for top high school quarterbacks.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead a program of the caliber of UAB. The university’s investment in UAB Football aligns with my vision to take the program to new heights as it joins and competes in the American Athletic Conference. Each year in the College Football Playoff for the highest prize to play for,” said Dilfer.
Dilfer, 50, is best known for his career in the NFL and broadcasting. The Fresno State product was selected sixth overall in the 1994 NFL Draft and played more than a decade after starting five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
After retiring in 2008, Dilfer worked as a television analyst for NFL Network, ESPN and Fox Sports 1.
The situation is not dissimilar to when the Indianapolis Colts hired former franchise Jeff Saturday as interim head coach after firing Frank Reich. Saturday had no coaching experience beyond high school, but it was only a temporary job.