JACKSONVILLE– The worst kept secret in college football became a reality for Jacksonville State Tuesday.
Head coach Bill Clark informed JSU he was resigning after just one season and accepting the same position at UAB on Tuesday afternoon. The announcement came after a week of heavy speculation that Clark was the leading candidate.
His departure left JSU with a void at the head coach. That void was filled Tuesday evening by coach John Grass.
Grass, who served as JSU’s offensive coordinator in 2013, was quickly promoted to head coach Tuesday evening.
“It’s a blessing,” Grass said. “It’s a great opportunity, with the circumstances that arose with Coach Clark going to UAB. I felt blessed last year to become part of this University as a football coach. I’m looking to build on the success we had last year. I’m excited about that opportunity and continuing that success.”
The terms of his contract were not released by the University. He is expected to receive a contract similar to Clark’s $175,000 while at JSU.
It quickly became apparent Grass was the ideal man for the job. With only two weeks until National Signing Day and recruits expected to make their official visits to JSU this weekend, a long coaching search would have been disadvantageous to the Gamecocks.
“In consideration of our short time frame in regard to our recruiting season, and the National Signing Day, Coach Grass will provide the continuity with our goal of a national championship.” JSU President Dr. William Meehan said. “I believe that we will not miss a step as we proceed to prepare for next season for our Gamecocks.
Added Athletic Director Warren Koegel: “I’m really excited that we have a coach that has been with us. I have a lot of respect for John as a person and as a coach, and the players have a lot of respect for Coach Grass as a person and as a coach. We feel very fortunate that we got a guy who is a Jacksonville State graduate who loves this university, who is going to be able to lead us on and continue what Bill Clark and the rest of the staff accomplished last year. It’s an exciting time for us and we are really looking forward to the future of this football program.”
Like Clark, Grass is a JSU alumnus. Prior to being at JSU, he served as head coach of Oxford High School. He still maintains a residence in Oxford, but is planning to move to Jacksonville.
“It’s big,” Grass said. “Me and my wife are both JSU alumni and are excited about the chance to be the head coach at Jacksonville State. Coming back here last year was like being back home. I’m looking forward to moving my family here. We live in Oxford now, but we are looking forward to moving here and being a part of this community.”
“We became a part of the University last year but are looking forward to becoming more of a part of this community.”
As for Grass’ staff, he told The Anniston Star that it was “too early” to speak on that. But, The Stae expects a mixture of new coaches and old.
The Star also reported Clark has invited his entire staff at JSU to join him at UAB. So far, Recruiting coordinator Jody Wright and defensive coordinator Duwan Walker have confirmed their departure. Running backs coach Jimmy Ogle, the only holdover from the previous JSU staff, said he was considering it.
Grass will be formally introduced Thursday at 5 p.m. on the Club Level of JSU Stadium.