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UAB coach Bill Clark retires due to serious back issues

Sportsnaut
Dec 18, 2021; Shreveport, LA, USA; UAB Blazers head coach Bill Clark embraces  UAB Blazers offensive linemen Colby Ragland (53) after defeating the BYU Cougars during the 2021 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

UAB football coach Bill Clark said Friday that he is retiring from his post due to chronic back issues.

Clark, who famously rebuilt the program in Birmingham after it was shut down for two seasons, will officially step down on Aug. 1.

“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,” Clark wrote on Twitter.

Clark, who turns 54 on Tuesday, will leave after eight years and six seasons. He has a 49-26 record, including the only two bowl victories in school history.

Clark said he will undergo spinal fusion surgery in hopes of alleviating the back issues that have plagued him. He said he initially hurt the back while doing squats in high school.

“I have reached this difficult decision after consultation with a number of world-class medical experts and much family discussion, reflection and prayer,” Clark said in his lengthy statement. “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.”

Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent will serve as interim coach, and defensive coordinator David Reeves was promoted to assistant head coach. The Blazers are moving from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference for the 2023 season.

The UAB program was shut down after the 2014 season due to financial reasons. The program was reinstated one year later and the Blazers began play again in 2017 and Clark stunningly guided the team to an 8-5 record that season and an 11-3 mark in 2018.

Clark was named Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year for the 2018 campaign.

The Blazers went 9-4 last season for their fifth straight winning season. UAB finished the campaign with a 31-28 victory in the Independence Bowl over No. 13 BYU — the highest-ranked team the program has ever defeated.

“We rose from ashes to build something rare and real, and we did it together,” Clark wrote. “We set excellence as a standard, and we achieved it.”

–Field Level Media