UAB coach Bill Clark retiring because of back issues

·2 min read

UAB coach Bill Clark announced his retirement on Friday.

The architect of the Blazers’ rebirth said that he had to make the decision to step away because of his health. Clark said that he needs back surgery for long-term back issues.

“I have reached this difficult decision after consultation with a number of world-class medical experts and much family discussion, reflection and prayer," Clark wrote in his retirement statement. "Because of long-standing back issues that grew more and more debilitating in the last year, I have been told I need a spinal fusion. Having undergone a previous back surgery, extensive physical therapy, shots and chiropractic therapy, I have exhausted all of my options. Due to the extreme physical demands placed on a head coach, it is clear to me. It’s time to pass the torch and try and get well.”

Clark said that his retirement will be official on Aug. 1. Assistant coach Bryan Vincent will take over as the interim coach with David Reeves as his assistant head coach. Clark said that he’s told the school that he wants his staff to remain in place for the 2022 season.

UAB was 49-26 in Clark's tenure

Clark took over a UAB program in turmoil ahead of the 2014 season. That season was the last for the football program ahead of a two-year hiatus after the University of Alabama system decided to shutter the program citing revenue reasons.

A grassroots effort was launched to save the program and the university system brought back the team in 2017 thanks to the public pressure and fundraising campaign.

UAB immediately returned to the field with a winning season and finished 8-5 with the school’s first bowl appearance since 2004. Clark could have left for another job after that 2014 season, but he decided to stay. That may be one of the best things to happen to UAB football.

The Blazers never had a losing season in Clark’s six years with the team. UAB followed up that 8-5 season with an 11-3 campaign in 2018 and won its first bowl game in program history with a Boca Raton Bowl victory.

UAB got its second bowl win at the end of the 2021 season with an Independence Bowl win over BYU. The Blazers finished 9-4 and have won at least nine games in each of the last three seasons. That success is a major reason why UAB is set to be a member of the AAC in 2023. The school is one of six moving from Conference USA to the AAC after the departures of Cincinnati, UCF and Houston to the Big 12.

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 18: Head Coach Bill Clark of the UAB Blazers watches his team warm up before a game against the BYU Cougars during the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
UAB was 49-26 in Clark's six years with the school. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)