UAB is going outside the box with its next head coach, unless that box has widened in the aftermath of Jeff Saturday.
The school announced Wednesday that it has hired former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, a man with zero coaching experience at the collegiate level, to run its football program.
Dilfer is currently the head coach at Lipscomb Academy, a high school in Tennessee. Dilfer will coach Lipscomb in the state championship game on Thursday before officially beginning his tenure at UAB on Friday.
"Trent is a proven winner on and off the field at all levels and will be a tremendous leader for our program," UAB athletic director Mark Ingram said. "He is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who played the game at its highest level for many years, and he has coached some of the top quarterbacks who are currently NFL franchise players. Trent's goals and vision for our program is to lead UAB to the College Football Playoff and we have no doubt that he is the right coach to lead our transition in the American Athletic Conference."
The UAB job was open due to the retirement of former head coach Bill Clark, who announced in June he was stepping away from the program due to back issues. Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent stepped in as the school's interim coach, going 6-6 with a berth in the Bahamas Bowl.
Clark had been the architect of UAB's rebirth, cobbling together a roster only a couple years after watching the program was shuttered. He left Birmingham with a 49-26 record, and now Dilfer will be tasked with maintaining that success as the program transitions into the American Athletic Conference next season.
Trent Dilfer is unorthodox hire for UAB
Dilfer's hire is a surprise given that he has only ever coached high schoolers. At Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, he has accrued a 43-10 record in four seasons.
Dilfer has also worked as the head coach of the Elite 11 quarterback camp, where top high school quarterback prospects compete each year.
"Having the opportunity to lead such a quality program like UAB is one that I am beyond excited about. The investments the university has made for UAB Football aligns with my vision of taking this program to new heights as we join the American Athletic Conference and compete annually for the highest prize of playing in the College Football Playoff," Dilfer said.
The 50-year-old Dilfer is more known for his NFL and broadcasting careers. The Fresno State product played more than a decade in the pros after being selected sixth overall in the 1994 NFL draft, spending five seasons as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starter then winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
After retiring in 2008, Dilfer became a television analyst, with stints at NFL Network, ESPN and Fox Sports 1.
The situation is similar to the Indianapolis Colts' hiring of former franchise great Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach after the firing of Frank Reich. Saturday also had no experience coaching beyond the high school level, but even that was for only an interim job.