The UAB football program officially introduced Trent Dilfer as the seventh head coach in program history today in a press conference at the UAB Alumni House in Birmingham, Alabama.
Sources confirmed to AL.com yesterday that Trent Dilfer was offered and accepted the position and UAB officially announced the hire Wednesday afternoon.
Read more on UAB football:
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Here’s what UAB athletic director Mark Ingram, UAB president Ray Watts and UAB head coach Trent Dilfer said during the introductory press conference:
Mark Ingram: “I’m going to introduce coach in a few minutes for his comments, but before we do, I want to thank UAB President Dr. Watts, our Chancellor Finis St. John and the University of Alabama system office and the UA system board of trustees for their unwavering support and enthusiastic support of the Department of Athletics here at UAB as we continue to build on positive momentum in football across our department. I’d also like to take a moment to thank Coach (Bryant) Vincent for his hard work and dedication to our program. He’s done a tremendous job under some difficult circumstances and worked hard and tirelessly to guide our team to another bowl game, which is obviously a tremendous accomplishment for our team. At this time, I’d like to welcome Dr. Watts to the podium, whose support and leadership are critical in terms of building championship culture and excellence across our campus and our athletic department.”
Ray Watts: “Thank you, Mark, and congratulations to you and your athletics teams. For your tireless work to conduct a thorough and deliberate search, and your team’s commitment to excellence makes the Blazer family proud. This is indeed an exciting day for UAB football and UAB athletics, but also an exciting day for the entire UAB community, students, faculty, staff, alumni, fans, our community supporters, as well as the city of Birmingham. The football team has united our campus and our city in meaningful ways that have strengthened our relationships. I join Mark and his appreciation In the University of Alabama system office and the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, who have been unwavering and supportive of all actions that we’ve taken, Finis St. John and his team. The trustees have been instrumental in all of our success. I also want to recognize and thank coach Bryant Vincent for serving as our interim head coach during a critical time in the program’s history, we are proud of his team and the staff they have. as Mark said, earned UAB’s seventh consecutive year of bowl eligibility. We’re really excited about going to the Bahamas Bowl and bringing home a victory on December 16. We’re also appreciative of coach (Bill) Clark’s contributions to creating a solid foundation for our current success and for future success. The search committee members have our appreciation for all of their hard work and dedication. We have worked together, we have listened to their guidance and we have made what we think is a great decision and hire coach Trent Dilfer. We can’t really overemphasize the importance of a diverse search committee representing all of our constituents and we’re thankful for your insight and your recommendations. At UAB, excellence is the standard and it’s clear to me that coach Dilfer will personify that standard. He is a well-known and well-networked Super Bowl champion, and he has a national reputation and platform which will elevate UAB football. He’s been very successful as a coach and he’s helped many individuals and teams, and he’s won championships. He also shares our strong focus on character, integrity, hard work and attention to detail, and thoughtful plans. We had a great discussion about these principles and it was very easy to see that he was the right kind of coach for us, a principled leader. We couldn’t be more excited about you being with us. We welcome you here today and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Ingram: “In addition to Dr. Watts, Chancellor St. John and our Board of Trustees, I’d also like to thank our search committee members — Dr. Brian Burnett, Dr. Frank Messina. Katreshia Louis-Verrett, Bryant Carter, Dan Carlson and Brad Hardekopf, along with our search consultants from Atlanta, did a fantastic job. I can assure you, you know this, I’m not ever the smartest person in the room, not ever., and I’m just really lucky to have a great team of people with our entire staff that I can work with. They assisted me in this process and did so from start to finish I was also fortunate enough to gain insight from members of our athletics foundation, and former players like Joe Webb and Bryant Turner, along with other coaches and leaders from around the country, mentors of mine like David Cutcliffe, and their support and their insight into this process were invaluable. We conducted a national search, we wanted to find our next head coach, which began on June 25. We wanted a great person who’s compassionate and cares about people. We wanted high character and high integrity above all else. Naturally, we wanted a proven winner and we wanted someone who had head coaching experience. And as we transition into the American Athletic Conference, we also wanted someone who not only wanted to win that conference but who wanted to go and win and play in the college football playoff. I know that UAB can do that. Trent Dilfer knows that UAB can do that. This process has been lengthy, to say the least., and while that has prolonged a lot of uncertainty from all those involved, it also allows them to be thorough. You guys have heard me say at other experiences and other times and other events, that it’s better to be right than to be fast. We certainly feel like in this case, we’ve got it right. I was initially introduced to Coach Dilfer by a local businessman who I’ve got a lot of respect for, and so early in the process I thought, you know, I’ll give this guy a call. He’s a Super Bowl champion, why not call Trent Dilfer? That 10-minute phone call turned into an hour and next thing you know, that conversation led to another conversation which led to another conversation and so on. What impressed me so much was how he approached the game. He thinks very differently, talks very differently, and is inspired by impacting players’ lives. I’ve got to admit that, initially, like some of you probably thought, I’m not going to hire a high school football coach. I was right. I’m not hiring a high school football coach, I’m hiring the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL Draft, a guy who’s had 14 years playing quarterback at the highest level. I’m hiring a guy who’s a Pro Bowler, who was the starting quarterback on a Super Bowl team and spent nine years with ESPN doing analytics, commentary and draft coverage. A guy who’s the head coach of the nation’s premier passing academy, Elite 11, and a guy who has coached countless college and NFL quarterbacks. And yes, a guy who has been successful in turning around his high school program over the last four years into one of the nation’s powers in high school football. He wore no. 12, no. 8 and no. 4. Today, he’s No. 1. Please welcome head coach Trent Dilfer.”
Trent Dilfer: “I am skeptical because I am a high school coach. But as the enthusiasm started overwhelming me, I got excited. Everybody can stand up and say the same things, the same narrative and promises, but I am 100 percent invested in student-athletes. The more you pour into them, the more it translates into the game. I don’t have a lot of rules, I have standards. When our student-athletes leave, they’ll leave it better. We’ll serve because you’re better when you serve.”
“You will get the best of me. I have been shaped by some of the greatest football minds and I will be relentless. You will get the very best of me.”
4:50 p.m Dilfer addressing Clark and Vincent’s foundational work at UAB:
“The foundation is solid. It impacts a community, a city and a campus. It’s the front porch in many communities. What Bill did here is incredible and what Vincent did with a lot of adversity was fantastic. All we’re doing is adding fancy upgrades to make it elite. It’s a beautiful house already.”
4:55 p.m Dilfer speaking about his son Trevon, who passed away from a childhood disease, and embracing the tradition of Children’s Harbor:
“Trevon was our second child, he died ironically, of a virus that attacked his heart. We’ve had to live through the pain of that tragedy. Please don’t ever feel uncomfortable talking to me about it. It’s actually therapeutic for me to talk about it. So you asked me about my son. I’m not going to — it’s not going to be weird. When you go through this type of pain, you develop a capacity to love. We all have our kids, right? Immediate family. When you lose something like this, you develop the capacity to love people that are hurting as well. And we will love on those families and we will definitely be an active part of it. But the first thing we’ll do is we’ll dive into serving these guys. All sudden magic happens within your organization.”
5:00 p.m Dilfer talking about recruiting practices and what to expect:
“I figured a lot out in the recruiting process through Elite 11 and the Opening, don’t forget that I was able to open up to 156 best players in the country that I would sit with every summer at Nike’s world headquarters. I kind of got a glossary understanding of it.”
5:03 p.m Dilfer on competing in the American and going forward in a new era of expanded playoffs:
“I don’t know the history as well as maybe I would. Mark, in our time together, shared with me the sloped football field, the challenges that Bill had and football coming back to a group of amazing people that were behind the collective. I want to know more about it. So we’re going to be a bit lighter slides down here and say I’m well versed in it.