The Birmingham Barracudas
were a Canadian football
team that played the
in the Canadian Football League
Barracudas were part of a failed attempt to expand the CFL into the United States
In the Beginning
, a business man
from Georgia, was awarded a CFL expansion franchise in Birmingham.
He wanted a nickname for the team that would "scare the spit out of
people," and chose Barracudas.
The Barracudas hired an experienced head coach in Jack Pardee
, who had coached at the college
level with the University of
and at the professional level with the WFL
, and NFL
. The Barracudas were also led by veteran CFL
quarterback Matt Dunigan
, who had his
greatest season while in Birmingham.
During the Season
Birmingham competed in the Southern Division along with the
San Antonio Texans
, Baltimore Stallions
, Memphis Mad Dogs
, and Shreveport Pirates
. After losing their
only two pre-season games, they played their first game July 4
, versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers
38-10, and would lose to the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton
They would get their revenge a week later at home by
beating the Cats 51-28 in front of 31,000 fans.
The biggest home game of the season came against the Baltimore Stallions
. It also proved to
be the biggest disappointment, as the Barracudas lost 36-8. After
that, attendance did not exceed 10,000 fans a game.
In the team's final home game, against the Edmonton Eskimos
, Matt Dunigan left the
game due to a shoulder injury, and Birmingham was forced to turn to
back-up quarterback Jimmy Klinger
Despite the loss, the Barracudas still had a chance to claim
home-field advantage in the playoffs. However, they lost a shootout
of a season finale in San Antonio, finishing third in the Southern
Division. They returned to San Antonio the following week for the
Southern Division Semi-Final, but were whipped by the Texans 52-9,
ending their first and only playoff run.
After the Season
Field was very good at first.
crowds were some of the largest in the league. Once the college
football season started, the numbers started to decline even though
the 'Cudas played on Sundays, not directly competing against
Alabama or Auburn.
Owner Art Williams was quoted that he was probably losing between 4
to 6 million dollars
on the team – however,
outside sources quoted the losses at around 10 million
. He also began criticizing the Canadian
Football League, and its unique concept. Along with other U.S.
owners, Williams wanted several changes made:
sold the team to a group of investors called Ark-La-Tex Football
Association from Louisiana. It was intended for the team to play in
Shreveport (where a more consistent and numerous fan base had
established itself, but whose team, the Pirates, had folded under the
mismanagement of infamous CFL owner Bernard Glieberman).
- Reducing the size of a CFL field to American football
- Allowing only 11 players on each side of the ball, rather than
- Changing the name of the league to show more of a U.S.
Shreveport team never played and every American team folded, except
the Baltimore Stallions
relocated to Montreal to become
the new Alouettes.
Players and Builders of note
- Quarterback Reggie
Slack, who played college football at Auburn, was signed
to Birmingham. He started both pre-season games, but was
traded to Winnipeg, after the second regular season game. On August
12, his new team lost to the Cudas in Birmingham, 50-24.
- Former Cincinnati Bengals
running back Ickey Woods signed with
Birmingham before the start of the season, but was cut in training
- Art Williams later owned the
Tampa Bay Lightning of the
National Hockey League during
the 1998-99 season.
- Fob James, at the time Alabama's
governor, played running back for Montreal in 1956.