A single move, a Texas-sized ripple

"The one thing I hate is it makes it look like you're not telling the truth," Clark said. "That's the furthest thing, especially for me, because I'm from this area and you're dealing with family. It's amazing just how quickly things happened."

So why'd he do it? Why take over one of the least successful programs in FBS? Each of UAB's past three head coaches, dating back to 1995 and Mack Brown's brother Watson, left with a worse winning percentage than the man before him.

Clark had a different perspective. He has spent 21 of the past 23 years coaching in the state of Alabama. He's the son of a small-town high school coach who never got this shot. Say what you want about UAB, but it is a move up.

"That's got to be every coach's dream: to coach FBS football," Clark said. And so he took the leap of faith.

There's no room for "next time" when a door to FBS ball opens. Guys such as Clark just need a few dominoes at big programs to fall, a little trickle-down of good fortune.

"We have to weigh it out: When will these opportunities come again?" Clark said. "You have to look at everything. There are 127 other guys doing the same thing."


The assistant frenzy begins

Of the 1,280-plus head and assistant coaches in FBS football, the jobs of at least 5 percent were impacted by Mack Brown's decision to step down.

The aftereffects touched powerhouses Alabama, Florida State, USC and Georgia. Each lost multiple assistants this offseason due in some part, large or small, to Texas' coaching change. Petrino's hiring of Greg Brown even prompted renowned Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to take over the coaching of the Tide's defensive backs.

The staffs of the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were also affected, as were East Central Community College and Holmes Community College in Mississippi.

Mack Brown, for his part, ended up with an undeniably cushy outcome in exchange for giving up his dream job: a $2.75 million buyout and his one-year, $500,000 job as a special assistant to the UT president. But what happened to the rest of his coaches?

Most landed on their feet. Stacy Searles is at Virginia Tech, Bo Davis went to USC and then Alabama, Larry Porter chose North Carolina and Oscar Giles joined fellow Texas cast-off Manny Diaz at Louisiana Tech. Instead of retiring, Duane Akina and Greg Robinson opted for fresh starts out West at Stanford and San Jose State, respectively.

That leaves two: Major Applewhite and Darrell Wyatt, Brown's co-offensive coordinators. Both are still under contract with the university, so, like Diaz did, they'll collect paychecks and lie low until better situations arise.

For new head coaches such as Brohm and Clark, moving up provides a welcome chance to reward assistants. While UAB will more than triple the $175,000 salary Clark made last year at Jacksonville State, he's more excited about being able to take care of his guys.

Seven assistants followed him to UAB. His defensive coordinator has been by his side since 1999. Clark has known his line coach since 1992.

"These are people's lives," he said. "You're their chance to get in. They left a job to come work for you, to put faith in you. I don't think people really understand the responsibility you feel for all the people in your organization."

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