Just 13 months after hiring alumnus Bill Clark to the position, Jacksonville State University again found itself on the search for a head football coach. Fortunately, the job wasn’t open long.
Former coach Bill Clark was hired as the new head coach at UAB on Tuesday afternoon. Clark replaces Garrick McGee, who left to take a job on Bobby Petrino’s new Louisville staff. McGee was 5-19 in his two seasons in Birmingham.
Clark assumed his role as the Gamecocks’ head coach on December 18, 2012. Over the next year, Clark re-energized a once lively fan base that became dull after repeated seasons of just over .500 records under the previous coach. Following his hire, Clark reeled in an impressive recruiting class, despite the late start his staff got off to.
Clark took over a squad that went 6-5 the previous season and led the Gamecocks to a record-setting 11-4 season including a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals; the deepest Division I playoff run in school history. In his lone season at his alma mater, Clark’s team set 49 school records, 13 Ohio Valley Conference records and three NCAA records.
His success didn’t go unnoticed. When the UAB job became available, Clark was targeted as a top candidate. Last Wednesday, UAB’s Director of Athletics, Brian Mackin, contacted JSU about speaking with Clark. On Friday morning, Clark met with UAB officials.
They reportedly also interviewed Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe and Atlanta Falcons’ assistant coach Chris Scelfo. There was also interest in Bethune-Cookman’s Brian Jenkins and South Alabama’s Joey Jones.
Clark met with officials for several hours again Monday working out a contract, and then returned on Tuesday to finalize the deal. The news broke that he had signed his contract around 4:00 Tuesday afternoon, shortly after JSU Athletic Director Warren Koegel received a call from Clark saying he was resigning from JSU.
Clark did return to campus Tuesday night and addressed the players and the news in a private meeting. UAB introduced him as the head coach of Blazer football during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Clark’s base salary was just under $175,000, while McGee was making over $500,000. While Jax State could compete with the FBS university in stadium and fan support, JSU couldn’t touch what UAB had to offer financially. UAB will pay Clark’s $400,000 buyout, which will either go toward paying off previous bills, or be used to give JSU’s next coaching staff higher salaries.
Late Tuesday night Jacksonville State announced the promotion of offensive coordinator John Grass to become the fourteenth head coach of the Gamecock football program. Story on back cover.