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Bill Clark introduced as new head coach
Bill Clark was introduced as the new head football coach on Thursday. He filled the void Garrick McGee left when stepping down to become Louisville’s offensive coordinator.
UAB will be Clark’s first FBS head coaching job. He comes to the Green and Gold from Jacksonville State University after posting 11-4 record in his first season as a head coach of his alma mater.
“One thing that I think everybody here needs to know, for me to leave my alma mater, to leave a good situation; I had to see some great things here. That is what we see. We see the potential for great things. We know we are going to have great things. We just have to get to work,” Clark said in his introduction press conference.
The announcement came as a surprise to many Gamecocks. “There was a lot of shock and anger. We wonder why. Overall the people were not pleased, still aren’t,” Austin Faulkner, Producer of the Gamecocks sports network, said about their former head coach leaving for Birmingham.
He spent five years as defensive coordinator at University of South Alabama, where he was with the team as they transitioned to the FBS level. The first full year in the Sunbelt, Clark’s defense was ranked as the second best in the conference.
At Jacksonville he ran a 3-4 multiple set defense. UAB will need some work on defense after being depleted by injuries, the Blazers ranked near the bottom or at the bottom of almost every statistical category. They were last in scoring defense, passing defense and total defense.
Before the college level, Clark enjoyed success at Prattville High School, where he took the Lions to back to back state championships. Athletic Director Brian Mackin said his in-state experience was a big factor, “I wanted somebody who understood football in this state. This state has two unbelievably successful programs at the FBS level and it is very much known that people understand football. They are very educated. He has been recruiting young student athletes to bring into his programs. He has taught them in high school how to be ready to be an FBS or FCS football player. That was important. To know the high school coaches in this state and region; he was one of them, one of the most respected.”
UAB will need more work than just defense. The football team has become a program that is used to losing. Many Birmingham fans have lost interest.
Faulkner thinks Clark can be a cure. “I think he will inject energy in program that has been severely lacking for a while now. I think if he can carry over the success from JSU, UAB can contend for a conference title in a couple of years,” Faulkner said.
Another thing UAB is lacking is quality facilities, Clark touched on that in the press conference, “Our president said what do you see? Let us know what you need. The commitment is there and we have a huge capital campaign going on right now. We will get to have a say in that. We’re going to do some immediate things right now for our players to see the commitment. I just want to make sure I’m saying the right things so we don’t spend money where it doesn’t need to be spent. We’re mainly looking at some immediate goals right now, as well as some long term goals that are going to happen. I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t.”
Clark continued, “I think it starts with the commitment, the commitment from the administration. I don’t think we know all of those things right now, but were going to evaluate facilities and everything that goes into the program. I say this all the time; the interview process is two groups interviewing each other. They were interviewing me and I was interviewing them to see what level of commitment we have. I know the things I want to do, but we want to get in and start this process and that’s what I have heard from the players. I have had players come up to me saying, ‘Hey Coach you let us know what we need to do’”
At JSU, he ran a mixed tempo, spread offense with a power run game. UAB will have strong running backs even with the loss of Darrin Reaves. The major question will come at the quarterback. The Blazers had inconsistent play from Austin Brown of the past couple of years and seem to have talent at the back up spot at that position.
While there are many questions yet be answered about the team, facilities and the comment to program by the Board of Trustees. One answer we now know is it will be Bill Clark moving leading the program, hopefully in a better direction.