Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome New Offensive Coordinator JD Shaw

We welcomed Coach JD Shaw to campus on Friday and timed his arrival with that of our team who all returned for spring semester last Wednesday. It is a fact that in our business what is done in January through July sets a foundation for success or failure in the fall. Any time as a head coach I get a chance to make a hire, it is never done lightly. It is an opportunity for me to make a good program better. I do not hire people to work "for me," but rather "with me" and I have the responsibility to replace loyal people who have helped me change the image of and expectations for Bridgewater football.

I remember when I was 31 years old and Frank Beamer hired me to be his Defensive Coordinator at Virginia Tech in 1988. He was coming off a 2-9 season and at the time the wide receivers coach at Cincinnati, where we finished 4-7, probably did not do a whole lot to energize the Hokie base. Looking back, it was a gutsy but confident hire. I would like to think the the defense that we built that was the fourth-best in the country in 1989 justified his choice. Although college coaches on the ESPN level are now very wealthy people, we are not in a business where rockets are being built, but rather young men are being developed. You develop them with quality people, and in my searches, that is always my top priority. The people I talked to about this job were all people I knew well and who I thought would bring unquestioned character to the table.

I am well aware in athletics there is a bottom line that has to be met at any level of competition. Knowing that bottom line, I have great confidence in the energy, expertise, and effort JD will bring to the table. I told him he needed to to help us develop a "Second Act" and the "First Act" brought the house down. Now it's time to go to work!

- Coach Clark

Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Way to End the Season

There was an interesting stat that was sent to me today and in the NCAA strength of schedule evaluations Bridgewater College actually had the schedule that was rated 5th nationally out of 239 teams. Using Opponents winning % (which was .632 and Opponents/Opponents winning % which was .592) that combination put BC’s schedule at #5 nationally. You could tell in the games that we played there was seldom any margin for error, andit was interesting to see that in writing, mathematically.

As frustrating as Saturday’s game must have been for players, coaches and fans sitting in the stands for the first 54 minutes, anyone who left early got cheated. Although that final 30 seconds doesn’t fix all of the problems, it was a great way to send our senior group out. The gatherings at Memorial Hall and the Victory Bell after home victories is really one of the great traditions we have revived here at BC. Hang around some Saturday to see it next fall, it will be worth your time to share this moment. The Bell was rung 22 times by the Seniors who dressed out on Saturday, it was a sweet sound.

Returning to the locker room after doing my media things after the game, it was nice to see a lot of the Senior group just hanging around taking their time to exit. There was certainly no rush to take the pads off the last time. On game days at home I ask all of the dress squad at our pre-game meal, devotional and into the locker room to dress up and wear shirt and ties. We dress to up because Saturday is a big day for this group. In the locker room on Saturday, Will Davis, our Senior kicker, came up to me and said “Coach here I want to give you the tie you loaned me years ago.” He added, “It has the same knot you tied in my freshmen year.” I had forgotten the tie (although it was a nice one) and regret that Will had not paid attention to the lesson I had given him as a freshmen on how to knot ties. I told him he could keep or dry-clean the tie.

But the tie represented a bigger picture. Saturday’s scoreboard that shined so brightly in the last five seconds of that game, but that will fade with time. Its’ value is one game away from being diminished. In our business it is the relationships that will hold worth.

- Coach Clark

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tough Saturday at W&L

It was a difficult Saturday in a game that was scored more like a tennis match than a football game. There was no question the 4th quarter intercepted pass of Anthony Carter in the end zone was a critical point. Much like the missed PAT in 2010, that took a scoring possession from us against their defense that much like ours was on their heels. The off safety made a great play from W&L to come across the field and tip the ball away from Nick Wimer who was open. Two bounces later it was in their cornerback’s hand diving in the end zone. Sometimes it does not bounce your way. Only half my quote made it into the Daily News Record this morning. After the game and in our normal Sunday evening meeting I did state to the players that our season now has an “Ending” that is defined by a calendar. We cannot alter that, but we will have complete control on the “Finish” of the 2011 campaign. Our coaches and players know the difference between the two. Take Guilford out and there is not a whole lot of difference in the other six ODAC teams right now. We will have to play every week at a high level and although the 2011 season cannot be defined by a championship right now, its’ most important statement will be the finish this group chooses to give it. Beat Emory and Henry.

- Coach Clark

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding The Magic Wand

Sometimes you are defined by how you manage opportunity and sometimes it is by how you manage disappointment. BC football will see the latter this week. Our fumble at the 1 yard line, a missed chip FG, and a bad interception had a 17 point influence on a game where every opportunity mattered. Our offensive plan was to play slow it down, control the clock football and we were able to set the pace of game. Limiting HSD to 65 plays and less than 26 minutes of possession time was a plan well executed, but in this type of plan every scoring opportunity is magnified. Leaving those cards on the table hurt. Both sides of the ball played with great energy and when that effort is paired with execution this team will be pretty good. We need consistent performance across the board and I reminded the team last night now is not the time to press or freelance; but rather to play hard and fast and trust the system.

Coach Trevathan, the old sage who helps coach our kickers, told me after the game that “Mike when you have been someplace long enough, you have seen it all.” He is right. I have been part of long losing streaks and runs of incredible good fortune in my time here.

He added, “And right now you are at that phase where you are grinding and wondering when that “Magic Wand” is coming back where the bounces and calls all go your way in the tight games.” That is just how I felt Saturday, but he added and I shared with the kids, “You do not wait for it to come back, you WORK it back!” That work will begin Tuesday morning. We’ve agreed to do the extras we did in preparing for HSD every week and make that the norm.

We are done sharing losing. Beat Guilford.

-Coach Clark

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winning Despite Losing

Sometimes football and life is defined by managing opportunity and other times it is defined by managing disappointment. After last Saturday we need to find out if this team can do the latter. Good teams in a perverse way find a way to let losing make them better. I tell our kids never to accept losing; but be tough enough to learn from it. There's no question the Ferrum game got away from us in the 2nd half. When you are minus three in the turnover battle, and give up 6 explosion plays (runs, passes, or returns) that is a double negative that will lead to defeat at any level. Working in the Red Zone on offense and playing deep balls in the passing game on defense will be a big emphasis in practice this week. We only have one more opportunity before conference play begins to smooth out the kinks and correct problems that will keep us competing at Championship level. Last week our team was wet wood; where nobody in any phase stepped up and gave us the spark we needed to compete with a Ferrum team that was playing at a high level. We are plenty capable of winning Saturday versus the Apprentice School, how we win will be important too.

On a personal note, I have already won big once this week. There's a picture of a potential BC recruit for

whoever is sailing this ship in 18 years over to the right. Celebrating your children’s children is a great joy in this life. My daughter Megan who is a BC graduate on Monday toughed out a win for the Clark family, my hope is the Eagles on Saturday will provide the Family Weekend crowd at Bridgewater with a winner too.