Wallace looks to bring back Lion pride

Head Coach Bobby Wallace gives a speech during the football team’s first team meeting of the 2012 year. Wallace hopes to bring back Lion pride to the community.

Bobby Wallace remembers a time when the hallways of local high schools were filled with more students donning Lion purple and gold rather than crimson and white or orange and blue.

“When you’d go into a high school, you’d see more UNA T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats on kids than you did Alabama and Auburn,” he said. “There was a real pride in the program that I think people are looking forward to having again.”

That kind of Lion pride is what Wallace hopes to bring back to the university in its transition to Division I. During his time as head football coach from 1988-97, Wallace led UNA to six NCAA Division II playoff appearances and three Division II National Championships (1993 to 1995).

“I think that Bobby Wallace is one of the only guys that can just walk in and (immediately) bring back the Lion pride,” said Robbie Burdine, a senior business management major who plans to graduate in May.

“He’s just got a passion for this community, for the school, for the fans and for the students,” Burdine said.

Burdine, who was redshirted in 2007 and has played as a wide receiver since 2008, said he would give anything for one more year to play now that Wallace is back.

Wallace hopes the move to Division I will bring a similar excitement to all UNA students – even those who are opposed to the move.

“When you can identify with the schools that you’re playing (and) when you get the national exposure that you’re gonna get from going Division I, then I think that will create more of an interest for the students,” he said.

Wallace will have many students to convince. In a survey conducted by SGA last spring, 58 percent of students voted against the move to Division I. Students were especially opposed to an increase in the athletic fee.

Wallace plans to do whatever he can to help the UNA Department of Athletics raise the money needed to go Division I.

“I think my contacts and the fact that I lived here for 10 years and have a lot of people that I’m close to will help in the cause.

“Most of the people that are capable of helping financially with this move were around in the ‘90s and remember the program as it was then, and I think they feel comfortable that this program is going to be one of high character (and) integrity,” Wallace said.

Burdine hopes UNA students will be understanding during the move to Division I.

“I just think all the students should be positive and open-minded about the D-1 move and just help make the transition as smooth as possible and support the school in whatever direction (it goes) in,” he said.