The UA system is saddled by a board of trustees that's consumed by petty infighting among the campuses. One of the chief culprits is Paul Bryant, Jr., who bears some sort of grudge against UAB because of an insult to the "Bear" a generation ago.
UAB has become the reserach engine for the state. External research funding was $498 million last year compared to Tuscaloosa's $68 million, among other things. The sooner it can loose Tuscaloosa, the better. If dropping football meant it could exit the UA trustee system, it might be a price they're willing to pay.