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Former UAB Coach Clark talks career, SEC, state of college football

Sidelined from coaching due to back issues, former University of Alabama at Birmingham football head coach Bill Clark said he misses the game and the people but not “the 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., 355 days a year.”

In an interview on WNSP radio, Clark shared some insight on his career, his thoughts on the SEC, the current state of college football, NIL, and the transfer portal.

Clark has had quite the roller coaster of a career in coaching. During his playing career at Jacksonville State, a back injury that would linger throughout his coaching career ultimately forced him to make the transition to coaching.

However, being the son of a coach, Clark knew early on he wanted to enter coaching when his playing career ended.

“I loved every bit of playing, I never really saw myself playing in the NFL, but my playing career in college got cut short, and it was a chance to get started coaching which was my dream growing up,” Clark stated.

After starting his coaching career at Piedmont High School as an assistant along with several other stops, Clark got his first head coaching role at Prattville, where he had a wildly successful nine-year tenure that only saw 11 losses along with back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007.

Clark eventually made the transition to college, serving as South Alabama’s defensive coordinator under Head Coach Joey Jones for a number of years before taking the head job at his alma mater of Jacksonville State.

A successful first season there brought Clark to UAB, where he was the head coach for one season before the program was infamously shut down in 2015.

In perhaps the most impressive achievement of his coaching career, Clark led the Blazers to an 8-win season and a bowl appearance in their first year back in action in 2017.

Following three more successful seasons at UAB, Clark made the decision to retire, citing his long-standing back issues.

However, Clark left the door slightly open for the possibility of a return down the line.

“I always say I don’t want to say never. I didn’t know how happy I would be, how would I handle it,” he said. “I’m trying to stay busy with a bunch of projects and staying around the game I love … I miss the players, the coaches, the competitiveness. I don’t miss the 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., 355 days a year; but it’s such a family.

“I don’t have anything in mind right now, but I don’t want to say never.”

Clark discussed Auburn Head Coach Hugh Freeze, saying he believes Freeze can get things back on track at Auburn. On Alabama, Clark spoke of the importance of having cohesion and togetherness in the program, something Head Coach Nick Saban has specialized in.

He also predicted Alabama to defeat Texas at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.

An example of how things are in college football in 2023, he said, is Jaylen Key. A star safety at UAB, Key transferred to Alabama and will play a key role for the Crimson Tide defense

When speaking about the current state of college football, Clark spoke about his experience and philosophy and how that might apply to college football today.

“What do you say as a guy who cares about these kids and he’s got a chance to make X amount of money, you can’t justify him not doing it,” he said. “Yet, for me it was always team, and family, and how we treat you, and playing for each other, that always won out for us.

“But now it seems there’s so much money out there that it’s gonna be harder for the have-nots while the haves just get better.”



You can follow Michael Brauner on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP


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