"There were days I wanted to do something different, that's just being human," Clark said in July. "I want what's best for me, what's best for my family. There were days with ups and downs, but there was a reason for all that."
He didn't do something different. He remained in Birmingham and fought for his program. And less than three years after the Blazers' nightmare, the 49-year-old is not only coaching again, he's coaching a bowl-bound team.
Where does Bill Clark sit in the National Coach of the Year picture? Here are the top 17 candidates, ranked.
17. Dave Doeren – North Carolina State
2017 Record: 6-3 (4-1, ACC)
North Carolina State won't set any program win records in 2017 but the Wolfpack could reach nine wins for the second time since 2002.
It's been a slow process under Doeren, though the fifth-year coach has done a terrific job in allowing his team to compete against big-time opponents.
16. Jason Candle – Toledo
2017 Record: 8-1 (5-0, MAC)
Toledo's Week 10 win over Northern Illinois secured their seventh season with at least eight or more wins in the last eight years, the last two of which have come under Jason Candle.
Though the Rockets' consistency is taken for granted — or completely overlooked — Candle has done a remarkable job since replacing Matt Campbell.
15. Tony Sanchez – UNLV
2017 Record: 4-5 (3-3, Mountain West)
Tony Sanchez is not getting enough credit for his work at UNLV. Three years after taking over one of the worst programs in the FBS, the Runnin' Rebels are two wins away from bowl eligibility for the second time since 2003.
Their Week 1 loss to Howard and non-sexiness of a .500 season — at best- will keep the former Bishop Gorman coach from winning any national awards but he's still worthy of consideration.
14. Mark Dantonio – Michigan State
2017 Record: 7-2 (5-1, Big Ten)
A year after injuries, oddities and other factor sent Michigan State to nine losses, their most in program history, Mark Dantonio has the Spartans back in Big Ten title contention with a 5-1 start in the conference, including wins over Michigan and Penn State.
13. Gary Patterson – TCU
2017 Record: 8-1 (5-1, Big 12)
Gary Patterson has a history of quick turnarounds, so while the Horned Frogs' return to Big 12 contention after a disappointing 2016 isn't surprising, the 18th-year head coach still deserves significant praise.
Despite a loss at Iowa State, TCU can still win out and make the College Football Playoff.
12. Shawn Elliott – Georgia State
2017 Record: 5-3 (4-1, Sun Belt)
When longtime South Carolina assistant Shawn Elliott took the Georgia State job last winter, it was viewed as a major undertaking that may require years of rebuilding.
Elliott had other ideas. The Panthers are two wins away from a program record seven victories.
11. Nick Saban – Alabama
2017 Record: 9-0 (6-0, SEC)
Good luck making an argument against Nick Saban being a Coach of the Year candidate every year. He could — and maybe should — be higher on the list.
10. Scott Frost – UCF
2017 Record: 8-0 (5-0, AAC)
Scott Frost could also be higher given his immediate transformation of a winless team into a New Year's Six contender, though No. 10 feels good for now.
There are a lot of reasons why he's the most sought-after Group of Five coach in the country, including his construction of an unstoppable offense.
9. Butch Davis – FIU
2017 Record: 6-2 (4-1, Conference USA)
Sixty-five-year-old Butch Davis jumped back into coaching after six years off and has not only returned Florida International to relevance, the Panthers control their own destiny in the C-USA East.
8. Lincoln Riley – Oklahoma
2017 Record: 8-1 (5-1, Big 12).
Lincoln Riley knew he was the successor to Bob Stoops but was not expecting to lead the Sooners this soon.
The now-34-year-old was thrown into the fire three months before the season started and, in his first-ever head coaching job, has Oklahoma in Big 12 and playoff contention.
7.Mark Richt – Miami (FL)
2017 Record: 8-0 (6-0, ACC)
Even with a cancelled non-conference game, Miami is still headed toward their first 10-win season in 14 years. And more importantly, Mark Richt also has the 'Canes in contention for a playoff berth and their first-ever ACC title.
6. Kirby Smart – Georgia
2017 Record: 9-0 (6-0, SEC)
Kirby Smart has already delivered Georgia's first division title in five years and is a win at Auburn away from securing a playoff spot, assuming they take care of business vs. Kentucky and Georgia Tech.
5. Brian Kelly – Notre Dame
2017 Record: 8-1
Brian Kelly earns a top-five spot because of his willingness to change. So many coaches are either too stubborn or blindly committed to their ineffective ways that they refuse to change.
Kelly flipped over his staff and transformed countless things, big and small, within his program after a disappointing 2016 season.
4. Jeff Tedford – Fresno State
2017 Record: 6-3 (4-1, Mountain West)
A year after Fresno State went 1-11 and had zero wins over FBS teams, Jeff Tedford has the Bulldogs atop the West division. Three of their four conference wins have come by at least 17 points, including a 24-point demolition of San Diego State.
3. Lane Kiffin – FAU
2017 Record: 6-3 (5-0, Sun Belt)
Lane Kiffin is rolling after a 1-2 start.
The Owls have won their last five games, with all but one coming by at least 14 points, including a 69-31 win over North Texas in which they racked up 804 yards of offense.
Florida Atlantic is three wins away from equaling their combined total of the last three seasons.
2. Matt Campbell – Iowa State
2017 Record: 6-3 (4-2, Big 12)
Iowa State's Week 10 loss at West Virginia put a damper on their magical season, but that doesn't change much for Matt Campbell's Coach of the Year candidacy.
The second-year head coach delivered two top-five wins, the Cyclones' first top-25 ranking since 2005 and their first 6-2 start since 2002.
1. Bill Clark – UAB
2017 Record: 6-3 (4-2, Conference USA)
Bill Clark deserves consideration as the Coach of the Decade.
The 49-year-old was supposed to slowly rebuild UAB after his program was eliminated after the 2014 season. Instead, he's led the Blazers to six wins and contention in the Conference USA west race.