Blazing A New Trail – The Story Behind Bill Clark and UAB Football
When you look for coaches on the move, coaches looking for the next big thing, that Power 5 job, that big paycheck, you can’t help but stumble onto Bill Clark’s name and wonder, ‘what the hell is he still doing there’? He could have walked. Most of us would have walked, but he stayed.
The University of Alabama- Birmingham is 7-1 this season. In 2015 the UAB Blazers won zero football games. In 2016 the Blazers matched that total, zero. They didn’t win any games, because they didn’t play. After a record breaking 2014 season where they went 6-6 in coach Bill Clark’s first season, the university had hired a private economic firm that concluded that UAB should cut its athletic budget. So they cut rifle, bowling and….. football.
While many of the best players expectedly left the program. Coach Clark not only stayed on as coach, he spearheaded the effort to bring football back to Alabama-Birmingham. He helped fundraise, got people in the city to back the program , including the city of Birmingham which raised $47 million to help get the program going.
Clark not only stayed on, he put a team together after two years of no competition, he came back in 2017 and went 8-5. In pre-season publications UAB was selected as the 130th best team, out of 130! They led Conference USA in attendance. Including 45,212 fans for their home opening return.
Here is a list of Clark’s 2017 awards, from his Bio on the school website:
2017 Awards and Accolades:
- CBS Sports National Coach of the Year
- Conference USA Coach of the Year
- Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award (Maxwell Football Club)
- Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Finalist (FWAA)
- George Munger Coach of the Year Semifinalist (Maxwell Football Club)
- “The Herbies” National Coach of the Year (Kirk Herbstreit)
- Bleacher Report National Coach of the Year
- Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award Nominee
They revived the program and now the Blazers have moved into their new state-of-the-art Football Operations Center which features all of the luxuries big time programs have for their players. New weight room, study center, indoor practice facility, nutrition center etc.. All were made possible by Legacy Community Federal Credit Union donation and $4.2 million naming right agreement.
Clark is in his third season as the head coach of the Blazers but fifth year with the program. He is 21-12 overall. The only coach in Blazer history to have a winning record. While some day he may look for the next big job, what he has already done in Birmingham is more impressive than any win total or big paycheck. Coach Clark is a winner, period.