JSU athletics director Warren Koegel confirmed Thursday that Blazers athletics director Brian Mackin called late Wednesday asking to speak with Clark, who just completed his first season as the Gamecocks’ head coach.
Clark declined to talk about the meeting, but did say he was flattered to be considered.
“Extremely,” he said. “With these things, there are only so many (openings) and so many guys who would ask, ‘Just give me a chance.’ So for them to reach out to you it couldn’t get any more flattering than that.
“That part is nice. It means they think a lot of what we’ve done in the past and our staff. That means a lot to me.”
The UAB job opened last week when Garrick McGee left after two seasons to become offensive coordinator at Louisville. He owes UAB $550,000 for his early departure, which would more than cover the $400,000 buyout currently in Clark’s contract.
JSU officials are trying to do what they can to keep Clark, a Calhoun County native and JSU alumnus.
Jim Coxwell, chairman of the board of trustees’ athletics committee, said officials have discussed a salary increase and other concessions, but declined to provide details.
“I’ll tell you we’re concerned about it and we want to keep him,” he said. “We have made some concessions ...
“We’ve made his economic situation better and we’re open-minded with him. We want to give him what he deserves — and he deserves a lot. He’s a great coach and we don’t want to lose him.”
Clark guided the Gamecocks to an 11-4 record and a playoff run that reached the FCS quarterfinals in his first year as a college head coach.
The mayors of Jacksonville and Piedmont as well as the Calhoun County Commission and the student government recognized the team’s success at halftime of Thursday night’s men’s basketball game with Tennessee State.
Clark acknowledged the convergence of the team recognition and the UAB interview would leave him feeling a bit awkward during the evening.
Earlier in the day, JSU student government president Jade Wagner said the turnout for the tribute would “definitely affirm” the support Clark has garnered from the student body. During the tribute, scattered chants of “Stay, stay” and “don’t leave” came from the area of the pep band directed toward Clark. He spoke briefly at the end of the festivities, but didn’t mention his involvement in the UAB search.
“The big thing is I love our people,” Clark said. “This is my home, my family. These are my players. I think everybody knows how I feel about the place and my guys and my staff. ... That was really nice tonight. It meant an awful lot to us.”
Clark built a nationally recognized high school program at Prattville and was defensive coordinator at South Alabama before taking the JSU job.
UAB officials reportedly were interviewing Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and Bethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins Thursday. It also has been reported former Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe and Atlanta Falcons assistant Chris Scelfo will be interviewed today.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.