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UAB's Bill Clark wins Eddie Robinson Award

UAB Coach Bill Clark, 50, has been named the 2018 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year recipient by the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

"I am truly humbled to receive the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and would like to thank the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl for this prestigious recognition," Clark said. "This honor is the epitome of a team effort and it would not have been possible without the countless hours of the entire staff and the relentless motivation from our student-athletes in striving to make history every day. UAB football would also like to thank the entire city of Birmingham for its tremendous support throughout this journey and making it possible for us to take the field each and every Saturday."

In 2015 and '16, UAB did not have an FBS team playing at Legion Field – or anywhere. The school resumed the program for the 2017 season and posted an impressive 8-5 record that concluded with the school's first bowl appearance at the Bahamas Bowl. Clark was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year for 2017 and quickly built on that initial success.

In 2018 the Blazers are now a championship team.

This season the Blazers own a 10-3 overall record and are C-USA champions after beating Middle Tennessee, 27-25, in the conference championship game, avenging their only conference loss to the Blue Raiders a week earlier. UAB faces Northern Illinois in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl next Tuesday, December 18.

"Bill Clark has done a yeoman's job in rebuilding the UAB program from scratch," said 2018 FWAA President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times. "The fact the Blazers won the Conference USA title in 2018 is one thing. Considering the circumstances, it goes into the extraordinary category."

The Blazers have not lost at Legion Field since the return, and their 12-0 mark is currently the fifth-longest home win streak in the country.

The 10 victories are already a school record for one of the better defensive teams in the FBS. The Blazers are 10th nationally in total defense (300.2 ypg, five yards behind Alabama), lead the nation in fourth-down defense (27.8 percent opponent conversions) and are second in third-down defense (25.0 percent conversions).

"It would be hard to imagine someone more deserving than Bill Clark for this award," said Sugar Bowl President Rod West. "Two seasons ago, UAB didn't even have a football team, and next week the Blazers will be playing in a bowl game as the champion of Conference USA. We congratulate Coach Clark on everything he has accomplished to date and we welcome him to the list of great coaches to have won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award."

In late 2014, the UAB football program was shut down by the school due to financial issues, only to be brought back again in the middle of 2015 with the intention to resume play in 2017. Clark was in his first year as UAB head coach in 2014 when the Blazers posted a 6-6 record but did not receive a bowl invitation, then remained in limbo for several months until a $50 million fund drive by fans helped convince school officials to bring the program back.

"When I came back these were the kinds of things I expected," UAB kicker Nick Vogel said of playing for championships. "I knew the kind of coach that Coach Clark was. He was part of the reason I came back. I fully believed in him to bring us to this point. It took us two years, which is way shorter than anyone would have guessed, but we’re here and happy to be here."

Clark is the first coach from Conference USA to receive the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, but the second straight coach from a Group of Five school to claim it. Last season, UCF's Scott Frost of the American Athletic Conference was the recipient when his team finished off an unbeaten 13-0 season.

The other seven finalists for the award were Josh Heupel of UCF; Brian Kelly of Notre Dame; Jeff Monken of Army; Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma; Nick Saban of Alabama; Dabo Swinney of Clemson; and Jeff Tedford of Fresno State.

Robinson, who passed away in 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson's teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers won nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

By Staff of and news services

This post first appeared on TheDailySportsHerald, please read the originial post: here

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UAB's Bill Clark wins Eddie Robinson Award


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