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It only took one year for Coach Bill Clark to turn JSU into a playoff winner. After an 11-4 season and 3rd place finish in the OVC, the rumblings of a new powerhouse must have reached Birmingham. As of today, Bill Clark has resigned from Jacksonville State and it looks like he will be headed to UAB.

“Coach Bill Clark  informed me this afternoon that he has accepted another job. I want to thank Coach Clark for the last 13 months of service to Jacksonville State University as our head football coach, and all the things the team was able to accomplish under his leadership,” Jacksonville State athletic director Warren Koegel said.

While UAB hasn’t announced that Clark is their new head coach, this quote just continues to hint toward the JSU grad heading for the Blazers.

Clark’s success wasn’t just a flash in the pan at JSU. He is a legend in Alabama high school football history, and he has recruited the Birmingham area well. It’s no surprise a nearby FBS program came knocking. After denying a report early last week he was in talks with UAB, Coach Clark interviewed with the UAB search committee Friday morning in Atlanta. Among the other candidates were former Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe, Oregon assistant John Neal, and Atlanta Falcons assistant Chris Scelfo.

On Thursday, Jacksonville State honored Coach Clark and the football team for their historic season at the basketball team’s game against Tennessee State. His nearby hometown of Piedmont honored him along with the mayor of Jacksonville and the JSU Student Government Association. In front of a packed arena, Coach Clark looked noticeably nervous and awkward when accepting a plaque of recognition. After the basketball game, Coach Clark spoke with Anniston Star reporter Al Muskewitz:

“The big thing is I love our people…This is my home, my family. These are my players. I think everybody knows how I feel about the place and my guys and my staff…That was really nice tonight. It meant an awful lot to us.”

Many sources within the athletic department are dumbfounded by the loss of Coach Clark, especially with National Signing Day only weeks away.

So, why did Coach Clark leave an up-and-coming program for UAB? As with most FBS promotions, UAB was able to offer Coach Clark more money than JSU could afford, but the real way Coach Clark benefits is from the retirement money.Clark  finished the first year of his five-year contract where he made $175,000 and has a buyout of $400,000. Since Coach Clark made his way through the Alabama high school ranks, JSU, and now UAB, he will qualify for Alabama educator’s retirement in three years. Coincidentally, the state’s retirement package bases retirement payments on the highest three years of an employee’s salary. With all of this said, Coach Clark did this with his family’s best interests at heart. Coach Clark left the JSU program in much better shape than when he was hired a year ago.

While no names have been confirmed, there are a few decent options for the now vacant head coaching position at JSU. First, offensive coordinator John Grass would be the leading candidate for the position if the athletic director thinks he is ready. Coach Grass enjoyed prolonged success in high school in similar ways to Coach Clark, and the offense broke almost every imaginable record last year. Outside of the current staff, JSU is only one year removed from a coaching search and will likely contact a few of their previous candidates. Hoover High School’s Josh Niblett will likely be in the conversation along with a few D-II coaches. JSU could be aggressive and go after a mid-level coordinator from an FBS school in similar fashion to EIU.

Player Reaction

Sunday night, Twitter was flooded with Gamecock fans and players reacting to the news that Clark was destined for UAB. Graduated senior linebacker Rob Gray reaction was one of frustration.

 

 

 

Freshman offensive lineman Dylan Cline reacted like we all did when we saw the news.

 

One of the most supportive players of Clark was freshman wide receiver Josh Barge.

 

 

With the coaching carousel at full speed, stay tuned for updates from OVCBall and Zack (@jsuzack) on Twitter for the latest in the JSU coaching search.


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OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11


2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall

EAST

Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19

WEST

UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24


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