After a two-year hiatus from game action in which Bill Clark stayed loyal to UAB and rebuilt the program from scratch, the Blazers experienced unprecedented success in their 2017 return season and finished with a program record eight FBS wins.
Clark guided UAB to an 8-5 overall record and just its second bowl appearance in program history. The Blazers have now been bowl eligible five times in school history and both years under Clark. Other school records set in 2017 included going 6-2 in C-USA action and a perfect 6-0 mark at home for the first time ever.
Maybe most impressively, Clark helped galvanize an entire community throughout the two-year hiatus as the city of Birmingham contributed more than $47 million to help reinstate the program. The loyality was evident as UAB led Conference USA in attendance with an averaged of 26,375 fans per game in 2017.
Included in that was #theReturn against Alabama A&M on Sept. 2 in which a record crowd of 45,212 fans poured into Legion Field to witness the Blazers’ 38-7 victory in its first game back in 1,007 days.
Clark and the Blazers proved the entire nation wrong in 2017 (ranked 130th out of 130 teams in preseason publications), and for his efforts he was a candidate for almost every national coaching award, and won the CBS Sports National Coach of the Year as well as Conference USA Coach of the Year.
On the field, he orchestrated one of UAB's most potent offenses in program history and a devastating ground game featuring true freshman Spencer Brown, who ran for 1,329 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brown slashed the UAB records books in his first season donning the Green and Gold as he broke program's single season rushing record by a freshman previously held by Jordan Howard and he is currently third in program history for overall single season rushing yards. His 10 rushing touchdowns is also seventh most in a single season.
Brown was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, a FWAA Freshman All-American and a Second Team All-Conference USA member for his efforts.
Clark also guided quarterback A.J. Erdely to record setting numbers as the junior tied a school record with 13 rushing touchdowns and threw for 2,331 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 60.7 percent of his passes. His 29 total touchdowns were the second most in a single season at UAB.
The 2017 defense was led by a trio of seniors who became the backbone of the program, led by Darious Williams who was named First Team All-Conference USA and a First Team All-American by Pro Football Focus. He finished the regular season leading C-USA in passes defended (20), pass breakups (15) and interceptions (5).
Tevin Crews more than tripled his production from his junior year in 2014 as he led the team in tackles with 102 and and was second on the team in tackles for loss (12.0). Crews finished the regular season as the only player in Conference USA to rank in the top 10 in both tackles and tackles for loss.
Shaq Jones had 57 tackles and 13.0 TFL at the jack linebacker position and set the example for the team on and off the field. Along with his on-field production, Jones was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and was a semifinalist for the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, both awarded for exceptional community service and humanitarian work.
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, the Blazers moved into their new state-of-the-art Football Operations Center which features coach’s offices, meeting and film rooms, athletic training facilities, locker rooms, a weight room, a nutrition station and two full turf practice fields. One of those practice fields is a pioneering open-air covered pavilion made possible by Legacy Community Federal Credit Union.
Legacy Credit Union announced the largest-ever sponsorship with UAB, a 20-year, $4.2 million naming right agreement for Legacy Pavilion, and in the process, became the official credit union of UAB.
In Clark’s first season as head coach of the Blazers in 2014, he turned around a program that was 2-10 the year before into a team that finished 6-6 and earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004.
The Blazers had a school record 15 players earn All-Conference USA honors during the 2014 season, including three first team selections (RB Jordan Howard, DE Diaheem Watkins and KR J.J. Nelson). Nelson was also named the school’s first Walter Camp First Team All-American.
The Blazers also experienced the country’s second-highest increase in home attendance average, growing by more than 130 percent.
Prior to UAB, Clark was the head coach at Jacksonville State in 2013 and led the Gamecocks to an 11-4 record, their most victories since the 1992 campaign when JSU won the NCAA Division II National Championship. That number set an Ohio Valley Conference record and was also the most wins by a first-year head coach.
Jacksonville State earned an at-large berth in the FCS Playoffs and captured two victories -- including a second-round win over No. 6 McNeese State to reach the quarterfinals. The wins were the Gamecocks' first-ever in the NCAA Division I playoffs.
JSU concluded the 2013 season ranked No. 10 in the final FCS poll. The Gamecocks, who ranked sixth in the nation in FCS attendance, set 49 school records in 2013 and broke 13 OVC marks, as well as three NCAA records. JSU had two players earn All-America honors and nine selected for All-Ohio Valley Conference accolades.
Clark became Jacksonville State’s head coach after five outstanding seasons at South Alabama as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator.
Clark's defense at USA finished second in the Sun Belt Conference in total defense in 2012 as the Jaguars completed their first full season of competition in the league. South Alabama posted the best record of any Division I FCS Independent in 2011 after winning the first 17 games in the program's history in 2009 and 2010.
During the 2010 season, South Alabama allowed only 13 points and 254.6 yards per game en route to a 10-0 record. In 2009, the Jags allowed only 5.9 points and 234 yards per game when the defense forced 25 sacks and forced 23 turnovers in only seven games.
Clark joined South Alabama in 2008 after spending nine years as head coach at Prattville (Ala.) High School where he led the Lions to national prominence. He won a pair of Class 6A State Championships as his last two teams won 30 straight games, while the 2007 squad was ranked No. 2 in USA Today's national high school poll.
Following his final season at Prattville High School, he was named the Alabama High School Athletic Association Coach of the Year and was also selected as the Schutt Southeast Regional Coach of the Year.
He first led the Lions to the Class 6A state playoffs in 2000, his second season guiding the program. Clark earned his first postseason victory a year later, helping Prattville advance to the quarterfinals before falling to the eventual state champion, which is where the Lions' season would end each of the next two falls.
Prattville made its first state championship game appearance under Clark in 2004, with the team allowing three touchdowns in four postseason contests, including a pair of shutouts. The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2005 playoffs before dropping a two-point decision.
Clark posted a 107-11 (90.7 percent) overall record during his tenure, suffering his last regular-season loss during the second week of the 2002 season.
Clark served on the staff of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic three times, including as head coach in the summer of 2007. He also served as head coach in the 2004 North-South All-Star Game. Clark began his coaching career as an assistant at Piedmont High School (1990-91) and also has coaching stints at Tuscaloosa County High School (1992-94), Coffee County (Ga.) High School (1995-96) and Dothan High School (1997-98).
He graduated from Jacksonville State in 1990 with a degree in physical education. Clark and his wife, Jennifer, have two children: daughter, Katie and son Jacob. His son Jacob apperared in all 13 games on special teams for the Blazers in 2017.