Yes, Bill Clark is the second best coach Tennessee football faces this year. And he’s nowhere to be seen in the SEC. Instead, he’s at UAB. However, his North Alabama roots and his staff all have a ton of connections to Jeremy Pruitt, as Pruitt worked with all of them coaching at the high school level in the early to mid-2000s.
Clark’s accomplishments are super-impressive, though. He is in his fifth overall season, as he 11-4 and made the FCS Quarterfinal in one year with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in 2013. The next year, he took UAB to a 6-6 record on the heels of nine straight losing seasons, including coming off a 2-10 season and three straight years with three wins or fewer.
That was impressive enough. But then, when the program was shut down in 2015, Clark demonstrated a level of integrity that doesn’t exist elsewhere. He refused to take another job until the program was reinstated, and he was part of an effort involving numerous players and alumni that got it reinstated.
So it came back in 2017 after two years away. What did Clark do? He went 8-5 in 2017 and then went 11-3 and won the Conference USA Championship in 2018. He literally won a title at a school two years after it returned from what was the equivalent of a Death Penalty. You can’t get more impressive than that. Remember what the Death Penalty did to the SMU Mustangs in the 1980s?
Well, it didn’t affect Clark at UAB. It’s very rare to be more impressive than that, and combining it with his integrity and loyalty to revive the program makes him an amazing coach. He could almost be No. 1 on the list, but that’d be disingenuous. Even with UAB expected to take a step back this year, Clark’s skills and familiarity with Pruitt make this a dangerous game.