UNA Turns Its Attention To Miles College

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Birmingham, Ala. – After more than two weeks of pre-season drills, University of North Alabama Head Football Coach Bobby Wallace turned his attention from his own team to the Miles College Bears on Thursday at a press conference to promote the September 2 Labor Day Golden Classic at Birmingham’s Legion Field.

Wallace and his Lions will not only be facing a formidable Miles team that returns 23 starters from last season’s Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship squad, but he will also be facing a coaching staff that includes three of his former players and two of his former assistants. Former UNA All-American Reginald Ruffin led Miles to its first-ever SIAC title last season and his coaching staff includes former UNA All-American linebacker Ronald McKinnon as linebackers coach and former UNA quarterback Travis Carswell as offensive coordinator. All three played under Wallace in his stint as head coach at UNA from 1988-97. Miles assistant coaches Tony Oglesby and Ken Watson were assistant coaches under Wallace during his time as head coach at West Alabama.

“Our players are excited to be playing because it’s our first football game and they’re tired of going up against each other,” Wallace said. “They are also excited to be playing Miles and to be playing at Legion Field. For me, it’ s like playing family,” 

The game will mark the first time in Wallace’s 24-year career as a head coach that he is coaching against one his former players as head coach of the opposing team. 

“Reginald is a good person and a great leader and he has done a great job with the football program at Miles,” Wallace said. 

Miles closed last season at 7-5 and returns virtually the entire squad, but Ruffin remains cautious.

“We only lost four seniors from last year and we had a lot of freshmen who grew up fast,” he said. “So we do have a lot of starters back and a lost of experienced players back, but we are still a very young football team. We’re getting better and we’re eager to get started.”

Ruffin said the opportunity for he and McKinnon and Carswell to coach against their former head coach is also exciting. “I am grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to know Coach Wallace and he has mean’t a lot to me,” he said. “This is going to be a great game and an exciting game,” Ruffin said. “UNA’s got history there and we’ve just got to do what we do to be successful.” 

With just five returning starters from a 2011 UNA squad that went 9-3, and with 60 freshmen in camp, Wallace said his team is extremely young.  

“We are going through a transition and we are a very inexperienced football team,” he said. “We’ve got some talented kids but we are young.”

This game will be the first for Bobby Wallace as head coach of the UNA Lions since November 22, 1997. Wallace was head coach at UNA from 1988-97 and posted an 82-36-1 record that included three Gulf South Conference Championships, three NCAA Division II National Championships and six playoff appearances in that 10-year span. He returned to UNA as head coach on January 2, 2012.  

This game will mark exactly 23 years to the day since the University of North Alabama last played at Legion Field. UNA’s last trip to Legion Field was on Sept. 2, 1989 against Alabama A&M. The Lions won that game 19-7 over the Bulldogs with Bobby Wallace as head coach of UNA. That was in the second season of his initial 10-year stint as head coach of the Lions. 

This will be UNA’s third game overall at Legion Field. On November 20, 1971 the Lions lost 60-7 to Jacksonville State in the final game of season at Legion Field. 

This will be the seventh all-time meeting between UNA and Miles College but the first since 1987. The school’s faced each other each season from 1982-87 with UNA winning all six games in Florence. This will be the first game in the series played in Birmingham. 

Kickoff for the September 2 Labor Day Golden Classic at Birmingham’s Legion Field is set for 6 p.m. 

Courtesy UNA Media Relations