Mutliple sources have confirmed to The Star that at least two individuals, South Alabama defensive coordinator Bill Clark and West Alabama coach Will Hall, will take part this weekend’s interviews.
However, JSU president Bill Meehan — fresh off overseeing two graduation ceremonies — said via text message late Friday evening, “… to the best of my knowledge no interviews will take place (today.)”
Jacksonville State athletics department spokesman Greg Seitz referred all questions to CarrSports, the consulting firm assisting with the search. Attempts to reach CarrSports Friday evening were unsuccessful.
Clark declined to comment on his interview status. Attempts to reach Hall were unsuccessful, but West Alabama athletics director Stan Williamson confirmed his coach’s invitation to interview, said to have been finalized Thursday night.
The Gamecocks have been in the market for a new head coach since firing Jack Crowe with two years left on his contract Nov. 30.
Clark, 44, was on the ground floor building South Alabama’s start-up program. The Jaguars went undefeated in their first two seasons and now play in the Sun Belt Conference, a league JSU had hopes of being invited into when it began exploring a possible move to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Jags were 2-10 this season, and if they were fully FBS classified, Clark’s defense would have ranked in the top 50 in total defense and pass defense. In 2011, still on the FCS level, they were ranked 16th in total defense and 10th against the pass.
Prior to going to USA, Clark, an Anniston native and JSU graduate, was the head coach at Prattville. He went 106-11 there from 1999 to 2007 and won AHSAA titles his last two years.
“At Prattville we were probably more college than a lot of small colleges,” Clark told The Star this week when confirming his interest in the job. “I can say I’ve seen the whole gamut, from 3A (high school) to going Division I. … I kind of know what the Football Championship Subdivision landscape looks like. I know what the Football Bowl Subdivision landscape looks like. You are what your experiences are. That’s definitely going to help.”
Hall, 32, just completed his second season as West Alabama’s head coach after three years as offensive coordinator. He was an All-America quarterback at North Alabama and threw four touchdown passes when the Lions came to Paul Snow Stadium and beat the I-AA Gamecocks 28-16 in 2003, the year he won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the best player in Division II.
His UWA team went 9-4 this season, winning the Gulf South Conference and splitting with Division II national finalist Valdosta State; it scored at least 40 points six times and gave up six points or fewer six times. His 2011 team went 8-4, including a two-point loss at then-No. 1 Delta State. His current contract runs through 2014.
“Will has done a fantastic job with the program,” Williamson said. “He has helped put our program in a great situation. Obviously the Jacksonville State opportunity is one he needs to interview..
“For our program we want him to stay and I’ll do whatever I can to keep him at West Alabama, but realistically with Jacksonville State being an FCS program and able to offer more money ... more likely if he gets that opportunity he’ll take that job. But you know never what happens in the process. I’ll do everything I can to keep him, but it’s unrealistic of me or anybody at West Alabama to think he’ll stay if he gets that opportunity.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.