When he announced he was leaving UAB football back on June 24, the quote Bill Clark gave included some interesting wording. Italics mine.
“It’s time. Knowing that doesn’t make this any easier. Retiring as the UAB head football coach is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but my future health and well-being depend on it."
In his own words, Clark retired from UAB, not from coaching in general.
In a story for ESPN.com, Alex Scarborough detailed what led to that stunning move and, has he writes, Clark's move was some 35 years in the making.
The future UAB head coach originally injured his back in the squat rack as a high school football player. He played and, later, coached through the injury, until he could no longer bear to withstand the rigors of an FBS head coach's schedule.
But, as Clark explained, the decision to do the surgery now was a case of his body screaming out on behalf of his mind.
"You talk to any coach and if they tell you this isn't true, they're lying: August till January, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, is too much," Clark said. "It just is. I don't care how much you love it."
After leading UAB back from a self-imposed death penalty, the program is healthier than it's ever been. The Blazers opened Protective Stadium last fall, and next fall they'll join the American Athletic Conference. UAB won Conference USA in 2018 and 2020, and won the C-USA West in 2019. Before the shutdown, UAB had never won a bowl game in its two-decade history; Clark's final game was an Independence Bowl victory over No. 13 BYU, played in front of a national audience on ABC.
Clark handed the program off to longtime lieutenant Bryant Vincent. Clearly, Clark both thumbs on the scale in hopes of helping Vincent land the job full-time after this coming season.
And with UAB in good hands, what's next for Clark?
Scarborough reported Clark was up and walking three weeks after surgery. Perhaps Clark slides full-time into consulting, or full-time into retirement. Or perhaps the retirement turns into a hiatus, and he's back in the game by Thanksgiving.
Point is, the 54-year-old hasn't missed a game yet, and so he doesn't know how what's next.
"It's uncharted territory," Clark said. "When October gets here and jobs start being talked about, how do I feel? And that's why I've left the door open. I just don't know."