The “I Want Your Job (IWYJ)” podcast continues with University of Alabama-Birmingham Head Football Coach Bill Clark, who shares how he came to be a football coach, the famous story of The Return of UAB football, and the steps it took to win a championship and bowl game in the second year back.
Ted Feeley, Associate AD for Comms at UAB, shares his journey from New York, Alaska, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and now to Birmingham, and talks digital + vision for UAB athletics.
Special guest appearance by Super Bowl champion Roman Harper, coached by Bill Clark, who brings some unique stories to the episode.
Connect with Bill Clark:
Connect with Ted Feeley:
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Highlights from the interview:
4:40 – Coach Bill Clark talks about the aftermath of a cancelled football program, and the challenge of helping fellow coaches relocate and helping players find new teams
5:57 – Clark describing the beginning of a five, six month process to be serious about bringing the program back and gathering support
7:14 – Clark shares the personal side of the football program shutting down, and where it left him both personally and professionally
9:16 – “This was 100% funded by the people.” Clark describes the various Birmingham community members and groups that contributed money and influence to help guide the revival process
9:42 – So the football program is on track to return. But, there’s nobody on the team. How do you build a winning program without any players?
14:36 – Clark on talking about winning a championship:
“You’re not going to get it if you don’t talk about it, believe it, think it, work for it. And you still might not get it! I think you’ve got to breathe those things into life with words.”
15:07 – Jim and Bill discuss news in Birmingham, AL, and how it helped set the stage for UAB football
15:46 – “In life it seems like a lot times there’s things that we don’t want to happen. They seem awful. But when we look back at them, we realize that what happened after never would have happened if the bad thing, the conflict, didn’t happen.” – Jim Cavale
17:42 – “To go through all that and then to win a championship, and a bowl game, was so sweet. To feel like, everything we went through to earn this was….worth it.” – Bill Clark
19:40 – Coach Clark explains this picture:
21:10 – Clark talks about the reality that the members of the football team are in the public sphere, and people look to them for a positive message
22:18 – Clark talks about how he developed a passion for coaching, in part thanks to influence from his father (also a coach), and his roles at both the high school and college level
23:33 – Clark shares some stories about Roman Harper, describing him as a confident, humble, hard working individual. “Everything you want in a player and in a person.”
28:20 – Jim asks Coach Clark what he would do if he hadn’t become a coach
31:36 – Roman Harper explains how Coach Clark was one of the only coaches he had growing up who he felt really guided him both on and off the field
33:33 – Harper talks about his origins in Prattville, AL, and the work that his coaches, teachers, and mentors put into him, which he takes very seriously and hopes he can continue to represent them well
35:52 – “I saw what he did for my high school program at Prattville. I mean, within months of him showing up, the attitude, the personality of my whole team completely changed.” Harper describing Coach Clark
38:22 – Harper describes how Coach Clark guided him back to the football field, and his ability to open the doors for others
45:20 – Ted Feeley guides us through his early years, an internship at Syracuse University, and deciding to have a career in sports
46:00 – Feeley shares his next few steps: Massachusetts, Alaska, West Virginia (Marshall University), Syracuse University, Pittsburgh, and then Birmingham
51:00 – Feeley talks about realizing the importance of social media, the potential for storytelling, and how student-athletes play such a big part
51:41 – “We talk about his all the time, our student-athletes are the ones who are actually telling the story, because they’re the ones who are on the playing field. They’re the reason we have an account….they’re the reason this program came back.”
54:10 – Feeley shares big goals: better storytelling at UAB, his aspirations of being a future athletic director, his upcoming marriage (“A girl from Chicago and a guy from Syracuse getting married in Birmingham, Alabama”)
57:05 – Feeley talks about how people in sports, especially in leadership, need to better understand that being good at social media is hard, and it takes work. Programs need to put out quality content that speaks to recruits, fans, and also maintains a unique personality for that program
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Full Podcast Transcript
Jim Cavale: On December 2, 2014, UAB President Ray Watts announced that after commissioning an in-depth inspection of UAB’s athletic budget and revenue and how the elimination of football from the athletic program would affect both of those things, UAB decided to close down the football program in order to save money.
The head coach at the time was Bill Clark, and he’s going to join us for Episode 3 here in Season 1 of the I Want Your Job podcast. I’m Jim Cavale, the host of the show and the founder and CEO of INFLCR, the brand that makes this show happen. My team works very hard to bring some of the best guests to you, so you can hear their stories. And this one today is a great one because, while Coach Clark saw his program gets shut down, he actually stayed at UAB. And less than one year later, the program was brought back. That’s right. In 2015 in September, UAB football was brought back. And in 2017, they were back on the field. In 2018, they were a champion in their conference, Conference USA, and a Bowl winner again.
It’s an amazing story. And you’re going to hear it from the guy who led it, who saw a vision, stuck to it, and that’s Bill Clark.
His story is great as an Alabama guy, grew up in this state, and is doing special things at UAB. And you’re going to hear from him, along with one of the best players he’s ever coached. He coached them in high school when coach Clark was the head football coach at Prattville High School here in Alabama.
And that’s Roman Harper, a Super Bowl champion, who played for Coach Clark at Prattville. You’re going to hear Roman trade some stories about coach that coach told about him, it’s going to be a fun jab back and forth.
You’re also going to hear from Ted Feeley, who’s the Associate Athletic Director for Communications at UAB. And he’s going to tell his story a bit, but he’s also going to get into the strategy behind the communications, digital and social media branding of this whole return of UAB football. It’s actually called #TheReturn, because that’s what it was. This program was gone.
We’re based in Birmingham. INFLCR’s headquarters is here. And we were all here, people that are Birmingham natives when this happened. And so, in the office, it’s kind of legendary to see what’s gone on, how its impacted our city. But this story is one that you’re going to take a lot from. So we’re going to go into that.
Before we do, I want to remind you that this podcast is something that is going to bring value to you. And for us getting you to subscribe to this podcast, whether it’s through Spotify or Apple iTunes is really awesome, because it allows us to continue to push new episodes directly to you.
Of course, sharing this podcast is another thing to get the word out to your peers about these interviews. So we humbly ask that you consider both of those things. And once again, thanks to INFLCR for putting it together. So without further ado, the story of The Return from the head football coach at UAB, Bill Clark.
So we’re here in Birmingham, Alabama, where INFLCR is based but there’s been a story brewing, especially the last couple years, a story known as The Return, that my guest today has been at the helm leading. And so, I first want to welcome in Bill Clark, Bill, thanks for making time today.
Bill Clark: Thank you.
The story of The Return is really where I want to start. And then I want to go back and talk about your story as a head coach. But a few years ago, some decisions were made that put UAB football in a dire situation. And you had a choice to make. You did not have to stay. But you chose to stay and what’s unfolded over the past three-plus years is nothing short of a miraculous story.
And so, I just want you to take me through your mindset when that decision is made and talk us through your decision to stay, and what unfolded after that.
Yeah, so, you know, we get Bowl eligible. And, you know, there have been things in the works for, you know, I guess, obviously for a while, but you know, what we knew had been a week, some weeks of some indecision and then the program is gone. And you know, so the first thing was what do we do for the players and the coaches. I mean, you know, you can feel sorry for yourself, but you… I’ve got a team to get scholarships for. So really, I had to kind of become like an old high school coach and help these guys get recruited. I mean, I’m trying to sell Jordan Howard to people, you know, if you can believe it or not.
And then there’s coaches without jobs, you know, coming up soon. So that was first. You know, I had some calls early on, a few head jobs, some coordinator jobs, and I just really was not ready for anything else. And plus, I was kind of in the middle of trying to help these guys. And, you know, and it was definitely a roller coaster.
You know, the people in Birmingham and UAB started fighting immediately. But now, when you do go over the program, it doesn’t just, you know, people think, okay, it just came back. No, it was… it was gone. I mean, and so these people start fighting. And so, I said, the roller coaster of, you know, we’re trying to bring it back. What do you think? And you know, and I’m… okay, we know the program is gone. This is kind of where we are right now, you know, and people were… okay, so what can we do? How do we help?
And they did start fighting, but it really was a five- or six-month process of these folks coming together and deciding that if we’re going to do this, then we’re going to do it right. And you know, the business people, some of the business people that got involved here would call me and say, “Okay, we’ll get involved if you stay.” And I said, “Okay, I will stay if we do it right.”
This is people from the Birmingham community?
Correct, correct, who really had not been UAB folks, had really been more Birmingham people. And then that’s kind of where it started. You had the diehard UAB fans, and they were really strong, you know, and they use social media really, that had never been used before to, to get their voices out there. And I think really uncovered the truth of what was going on.
But it was also to say, we did need support, you know, that was some of the problems that they had probably not supported like they should have. And so it galvanized them together.
But more importantly, it galvanized this community to, you know, UAB is important. UAB football is important, you know, the city goes as UAB goes. We’re the number one employer in the State of Alabama. We’re the economic center of the State of Alabama.
And it was okay, the program is… got a chance to come back. Now, what do we do?
Wow. So at this point, you have a family, how do you communicate this decision to wait it out and see if UAB can be brought back personally?
Yeah. So for me, you know, I was still under contract, you know, and it was…
Nobody came to you and said that your contract was going to change, they couldn’t really change it, it was already set.
No, it was sad. And so, that was, you know, it was… knowing that I was going to end up going to be back to be a coach soon. And so, you know, we just, it was really just, I mean, I’m off. I mean, I’m going and looking and studying, but really just, like I said, you know, my wife has got my gardening, and I knew I had to go find a job because she was going to kill me.
But no… and I think it was really what am I going to do, you know, what’s the next day up? I mean, you know, you, you do all these things to go get this opportunity, and then we get Bowl eligible, and then it’s taken away from you.
So, you know, that reality along with this daily up and down of, “Hey, we’re going to fight. There’s no hope. Wait a second, there’s a chance,” was a lot like, nobody has ever done this before, you know, so that’s this big yo-yo that goes back and forth. And there was, you know, those days where you’re, “Okay, we could bring it back. And if we brought it back, we have no players. So what do we do?”
So now you get to the point where there’s a chance.
And those conversations escalate pretty quickly as far as people who hadn’t been financial supporters…
…but have finances and influence in the Birmingham community, they see the value of athletics being the front porch to the university, football being the main component of athletics, this university being the biggest employer of the state, they see all that, and all of a sudden, people with influence and dollars are like, “We’re going to try to do this.”
Yeah. And it was so funny for these, these folks. Now I see them today, we’re sitting here and they’re UAB guest, you know, and I, you know, my standing joke in our talks is TOO, you can be for us too, or you can just be for us, you know, if you just want UAB fan. But those guys who were, I like it, but this is about Birmingham, you know, I like you, but this is about this, to see them really become UAB people and invest, I mean, besides just their money.
And… but there are so many people, I mean, this was 100% funded by the people. I mean, you know, that’s what you… when you start talking about 51 million or whatever we’ve raised, I mean, it’s, in the people with businesses, but not just businesses, people that gave, you know, football, bowling and Rifle commitments, which were, you know, just our budget. So when they say they brought it back, “we brought it back,” you know, that’s really what happened. So, you know, this facility we’re sitting in was funded by the people, you know, so.
Okay, so, you find out, it’s coming back.
It’s actually going to happen. That’s great. But now you… like you said, it’s like, “Oh, now I got to go get players.
Yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing that was, that I’m thinking, okay, if it does come back, we have no chance. I mean, I’m, you know, I’m really… and I’m, you’ve been around me, I’m very… try to be very positive, but I’m like, “What chance do we have?” You know, that’s that where you’re just sitting, okay, if this thing could come back…” You know, I was talking to Britt Banowsky who is with the College Football Hall of Fame now, who was our Commissioner, you know, “Coach, you know, you, you have a chance to get a job. If somebody loses somebody in the conference, they know you, and oh, by the way, we won’t bring UAB back.”
This is like January. I’m like, “Britt, come on, man, I mean, they’re not going to bring it back, you know.” And he said, “Well, if they could, we’d want you back.” I said, “Well, if we could, let’s do it.” And then in March, he’s calling me, “Hey, I’m hearing good things.” “I’m right. Okay, what are we going to do?”
And that’s where I started thinking about the junior college guys, and we got to get older, and all I could really look at was SMU, had really gone out and lost, I think they won one game in three years. I don’t… I may be wrong in that quote.
You’re talking about after the death penalty?
After the death penalty, yeah. So, that’s all I could really go on. And so, we got people giving money. And then you win one game in three years. You know, that was a little bit different. And so, that’s kind of how I got into that we got to go get older kids. All right, what would the NCAA allow us to do?
And I, you know, the NCAA was very gracious to us. I do say, they really didn’t go change any rules. The only thing they did was allow us to, to have that frozen one year of eligibility. You know, but everybody else in America had a chance to get these same guys. You know, they were eligible for everybody. And that’s why I always laugh when people say, “Yeah, you got these advantages.” And I’m thinking, “Okay, you could have chosen these guys.” And a lot of them were… a lot of them were junior college guys that had been injured, too. They had a labrum in the head and knee, so no…
They needed time to heal.
They needed time; nobody would touch them. And so, not from no character issues. So we just really did a great job. And then we sold some on just, I mean, you got [inaudible 0:11:47] and be the guy. And you know, as we always tell the joke of who’s going to play you in the movie, you know, that was all the things that just what did we sell.
And then we sold this, this where we’re headed and what UAB could be. So, to have this vision and then for these folks to buy into it, you know, and I’m talking about our business folks, our people, our administration, you know, who had just been part of shutting it down said, “All right, let’s… if we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.” So, you know, that’s what I suppose, “Well, how do you feel?” I say, “Okay, we did this together.” So it’s, you know, from going to get the players to them great guys coming together to what do you do when you’re not playing a game, I mean, everyone of those things are crazy.
So you go get players, you have to build camaraderie, build a team, get a coaching staff, all those things. We could be here for literally for days talking to each other about all this. And so, but where I want to go next is you open up the season, Labor Day weekend, and 40,000-plus people show up?
Yeah. Yeah, it was… I always laugh. You know, I don’t use the word surreal. But it was kind of… if you did, that would be the word you… it was, you know, it was… I mean, the most people has ever been to a UAB game show up for that first one. And that’s when you said, “This is a Birmingham thing.”
This is a… and it really was a national thing at that time. You know, everywhere I went, people, people talked about, I was… you know, wherever in the country, I was recruiting, they had become UAB fans. But that was a need to bring it back and bring it back in the right way even though we had a bunch of other things to do. That was pretty cool.
First season was a success when you look at the circumstances coming in. And I know for you, success is always going to be, you know, don’t lose any games.
But… but, you know, winning season Bowl game, you had a couple games that probably should have won that you didn’t that you could probably use along with the wins of the season to set the stage for the second season. The second season was a culmination. Talk about that second season.
Yeah, you know, so just finishing up with the first year, you know, we were picked 130 out of 130 teams. So, you know, if we were… you know, my goal, really, the first year was to be competitive. So from that standpoint, we succeeded. But from what I said, “We got, we’re good enough to have a chance to win.” We will, of course, want to do more.
But probably losing the Bowl game, you know, our guys were really just happy to be there in a lot of ways, and then we played a really good Ohio team. So we had that just terrible taste in our mouth which really led us into the offseason. And which was not all bad.
Right, that’s what I’m saying.
You know, it’s not all bad. And we started, you know, I mean, we started literally talking about a championship day one, and… which I’ve always done.
You know, I mean, it’s just, I’ve always done that from high school days to just, you know, you’re not going to get it if you don’t talk about it, believe it, think it, work for it, and you still might not get it. But, you know, you got to, you know, I think you got to bring those things into life with words and… and to see that happen. And you know, obviously, like anything, you had some ups and downs, but what a great year, what a fun year.
So let’s look at the Birmingham side of this and just the support side of this for a second because I think it, it really brings some amazing lessons for our listeners to realize about life in general. So last year, I believe the, the attendance averaged 25,000. You know, you’ve led your conference in attendance.
Obviously, during this whole time something happened. We elected a new mayor. We have a new leadership in the city and a new stadium is approved, $300 million project that you’re going to be a tenant and a core part of, right? So all this stuff is going on in Birmingham. And you guys come back. And let’s also look at the context of Alabama and Auburn are down the street.
And this is the number one college football ratings market in America passionate fans, but they’re tied usually to one of those two.
In life, it seems like, you know, a lot of times there’s a lot, there’s things that we don’t want to happen. They seem awful. But when we look back at them, we realize that what happened after never would have happened…
…if the bad thing, the conflict didn’t happen. This was a tough thing for you to go through. But without it, would UAB football and the support you have from fans and excitement this year, this facility we’re even sitting, would any of it even exist?
Yes, funny, I’ve had people say, “You know, that was a plan. You planned all that out.” I said, “Exactly. Right. That was our plan.” No. It was… you were… you know, I say, “I’d never wish it on my worst enemy, really, to go through that, because you don’t know what’s sitting out there.” But we’re 100% sitting in, in this whole setting based on that. And… which makes it that much sweeter, you know, to have gone through that. And we’d say that… and I always talk about adversity.
You know, but it’s easy to say, “How do you handle adversity?” You know, it’s really, and I mean, really, it is how you handle adversity. And that’s, that’s the measure of us as people, you know, and we said that’s a measure of teams and players and… because we know we’re going to go through it, and it’s how we handle it, you know, but it does make it that much sweeter on the end when you do good through it.
So you have a phenomenal season, and you win a title. You set the vision. You defined it before the season. Your team wins the Conference USA championship. And obviously, for you to, to kind of cap off the two year run of this return of the college football program of UAB had to be pretty sweet for you.
Yeah, it was, you know, I think there’s just… you can do a lot of work through life and not get, maybe even get the vindication you want. And that’s… I don’t mean that even in a bad word. But I think all of us are looking for that, especially when it’s as tangible as it is for coaches. You know, it’s Saturday, there’s a winner and there’s a loser, you know.
And so, to go through all of that, and then to win a championship and a Bowl game was, you know, it was so sweet, just, to feel like, okay, everything we went through to earn this was that, that, you know…
Was worth it.
…was worth it. Yeah.
So, this is an amazing story. And it all takes place during a time where social media, especially has allowed schools like UAB that might not be on CBS or ESPN every Saturday to be able to really tell their story, get it out there. And this is a great story to tell. You’ve got a phenomenal team to help you do that led by Ted Feeley. And the ability to get the story out in social is not only something that your players have been empowered to do, and that’s why we know each other, my company INFLCR helps you… help your players build a brand and tell the story, but you’re real active on social yourself.
Talk about your philosophy on social.
Yeah, you know, I think when, when it was kind of first, you know, started going out on Twitter, you know, would you have somebody doing that for you? And I just said, “You know, it’s a chance for me to kind of tell our story and my story and what I believe in. And, you know, there’s been times where I’ve probably did less tweeting about, you know, just faith and belief and hope and some of that, and then I’ll get a message, somebody says, “You know, coach, I look forward to that.”
I do too, personally.
You know, so, and I need to… and I try to remind that, you know, and big thing is to be real, you know, and, you know, I don’t want to be, you know, you don’t want to preach to people. And I think the big thing, though, is that, if this is really who you are, you know, and really how you believe in that we’re all going to go through tough times.
And so, hopefully, there’s some inspiration out there. I know I get… that’s when I, you know, that’s when I follow different folks. And you know, and I get inspiration from them, maybe a quote of the day or whatever. But I think it tells our story and gets our message out. And you know, so, I just, like last night, you know, I mean, we’re sitting there looking at this building come down, and you know, I mean, I just take a picture of it and we put it out there, I mean…
Tell that… tell them, tell them what’s going on out the window right now.
Yeah. So out the window, they are literally, right now, knocking down our old building, which my standing joke was that was, we were in a dentist office. I think it was really a radio station. But you know, I think…
Take a picture of that, Andres.
Yeah. So people get… need to get to see that. You know, but I think that’s just that living in the moment, whether it’s, you know, whether it’s the recruits, whether it’s the fans, whether it’s, you know, when I get up on game day, game day, you know, I mean, they know exactly where my mind at, what I’m thinking about.
And I think that’s pretty cool, you know, is when you can get somebody, whatever that is to go, okay, this is what he’s thinking right now, this is what’s going on this what’s going on in this program. So, you know, Ted does a great job with that. And y’all, you know, y’all been part of us. It’s… I think that’s one of the things we’ve done a good job of is telling our story. And you always want to do a better job.
But I think that’s one of the things we do a good job. And, you know, Ted and I do, you know, I think, just have a great relationship of, and I always say, “Look, I don’t want… it can’t be a competitive disadvantage. And I don’t ever want to do anything, you know, that would hurt any of our guys personally.” But we try and tell our story as best we can within those confines.
And with the players, you know, you’ve decided, I mean, you are our second ever client. We got more than 70 as I sit here today. Early adopter, some of that is because we’re in the same city, but you’ve been proactive about empowering your players on social.
Yeah, I just, you know, not tell them how to post, yeah, people will tell you what they want. But yes, you are being looked at, you know, you are a leader. People do look at you. And I know, I mean, you can be real, but, you know, we want it to be positive. You know, we want to put out a good message. I say we really are… who these guys are. And so, I just tell them, “Hey, I’m going to look at it.” But I don’t tell them what to say. Or, you know, just once again, we have competitive things that we can’t tell. But as far as their message and their story, I think that’s something we want them to be able to do.
So you’re here in Birmingham, but you’re an Alabama guy. You grew up here Piedmont, right. Born in Anniston.
Coached college football here and coached some amazing teams at Prattville; had a great run there. Coached my buddy Roman Harper, who you’re telling some good stories about earlier. What does it mean for you… kind of take us through quickly your origin in football here in this football state, and then what it means to be back here, you just had a legend sitting down when I walked in the room who’s another college football coach from Alabama? You’re part of this now, this fraternity of coaches in this state of football.
Yeah. So you know, growing up a coach’s son, I say that all the time, “My dad was a coach.” And not only was he a football coach. He was a basketball coach. He was a good basketball coach, as well. And a lot of those things influenced everything I do.
Those stories are… my favorite thing was him sitting around with other coaches. And you know, they were funny stories, or serious stories or game stories or football stories or basket… I mean, but it was the way that you get your player to play better than he was or the way you influenced him or to do the right things or, you know, that’s the stuff I loved. You know, and it was… yeah, I like strategy. You know, I love the X’s and O’s. I’m an O, strength and speed guy so I love the training. You know, I love nutrition. I love how we get on to be better. I love the health now, you know, I’m really getting involved with the safety part of it, because I want people to play our game and all sports, you know, kids should be playing sports, and we want it to be safe.
And so, all those things I’m passionate about. And that’s what I was brought up in.
So, I kind of got to cheat. I got a jumpstart on knowing that’s what I was going to do from as long as I can remember. I used to sit in the backroom. And you know, there was a one, one air-conditioner and that hole, you know, them old window units, that’s where everyone was, was in his office on one end of the house. So I would go in there and the old 16 millimeter film and watch it. And then finally, he wouldn’t let me be a manager until I think I was about a third or fourth grade, you know, and… but all those things are part of my experiences. And, you know, I got hurt. And so, my career got cut short in college. So I got to start coaching early, knew that’s what I wanted to do; had a chance to be a student coach or go be a high school coach, I went to be a high school coach.
And then it was when I’m 22 years old, it was go be a GA or be a defense coordinator at high school. And so, I chose the high school route. Through the years, I had some opportunities to go to different spots. But I wanted to stay as, you know, as a coordinator.
So I stayed as a defense coordinator, turned down head jobs, all along trying to learn my craft, going to every college in America. I’m trying to get better and learn. Had a few college opportunities along the way, but just liked being a high school coach, and that was kind of the Prattville story. And I went… that’s kind of that same story of a downtrodden place. It was a great community that turned, you know, by the end, we’re a national team and number two in the nation and then, you know, then I started my college journey at South Alabama.
When you went from high school to college, were you, did you feel green doing it?
You know, so funny, and I don’t know if that… I hope it does sound arrogant, but we were more college at Prattville than we were in South Alabama.
It was a new program.
Yeah, so it’s brand new. And literally, I mean, I had… I was that AD, you know, we were the biggest Junior High and had the biggest junior in the state. We are the fourth, fifth biggest school in the State of Alabama. You know, we’re number two in the nation…
You’re talking about at Prattville?
I’m talking about at Prattville. I mean, we had, you know, we practice twice a day. We had video. I had trainers. I had, you know, I had 17 sports. So, you know, we were one of the top Nike teams in the country. We got… became a Nike team and nobody was doing that. When all our… we got all our sports in it. And that’s not really to toot our horn, that’s really to say kind of what high school football, you know, us, Hoover, Daphne, I mean, it was college football.
Then we go to South Alabama. We don’t even have a program. And so, it really was almost a step backwards in some respects, you know. I mean, we hire my video coordinator. We hire my strength guy, you know, I mean, and we end up getting some other guys in some of those roles. But I think that’s when I always talk a lot about high school coaches, you know, there’s great coaches at every level. But we had to grow that program, which once again helped me in this rebirth.
So as like the Lord put me in a spot to say, all right, building a building, you know, going out and recruiting from scratch. That’s, you know, the stuff here, I was, okay, I’ve done… been through that. And so, you know, Joe and I are going in there together and getting to be part of that building facilities and sitting in on meetings to build the build. I mean, the same exact things we did here…
…on the rebirth. So, it was, you know, I guess, there was a plan there.
There… there always is. All right, a couple more questions, and I’m going to let you get back. So, I want a Roman Harper story, because I’m going to grab a soundbyte with him about you. So we got to go both ways. So you tell me a couple before we got going. But obviously, one of your best players you got a chance to coach.
Yeah, you know, what a great family. You know, I mean, his brother came to see me last week. He was my chaplain for a while at South Alabama and the whole family, from the dad who is one of my coaches to the whole group, they don’t get any better.
You know, and I was telling that story off camera a minute ago, he’ll probably remember the first time we meet, you know, and he’s come back from Six Flags. And I’m asking about working out and he was kind of telling me that they really didn’t do that. And of course, I told him that was over. But, you know, he always blames me that I’m the reason he can’t really enjoy games because I made him put his game face on. And I laugh because you didn’t have to get that guy ready to play.
But just what a smart, I mean, I would just, if I’d had him more than two years, so, I mean, I’d only had him two years and the first year was June. But the whole… just everything you want in a player, and in a person, and through the years, never get too big to come back to Prattville, never got too big to call me and check on me, is still the same guy. You know, like I always, you know, the right kind of confident, but humble, hardworking. So really, just what you see is what you get, real deal.
And then my last question for you is, so many skills have been involved to do what you’ve done in your career, God has blessed you with ability to have vision, the ability to execute on a vision, ability to lead people, you have a lot of empathy and humility in how you operate.
Everybody always talks about that when your name comes up. If you weren’t a head coach coaching football, I know this is really hard for you, because you go back to that room with the air-conditioner and the 16 millimeter film, but what would you do?
Gosh. You know, I don’t know, really. I mean, I don’t know, you know, I mean, I’ve talked about… I’ve thought about, you know, I, military or, you know, I just love all the teamwork and camaraderie, what would be something like that with leadership, would it be military? I don’t know, you know. It might be something along those lines. It would… would have a physical aspect to it, but also have that teamwork and camaraderie and, and, you know, I just… the sacrifice of, you know, doing something for somebody else, you know, that maybe you see in the military.
I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys along with, of course, all the guys that take care of us, you know, our police and all those guys. So, you know, but just that teamwork, you know, I love hearing, you know, those Navy SEAL guys, and you know, just the things, the training, you know, you know, you heard me talk about I love the training. That’s the part of all the stuff with what we do is taking somebody from A to Z and making them better. So that might be it.
It’s fulfilling experience for sure. What’s the outlook for the season?
You know that, I mean, I always laugh because we really… coaches really don’t know. But I mean, you can feel good about a group I feel good about this group, just how hard they worked. It’s so hard to replicate the fire. I mean, and we… they just had been through the fire. So, you try and put them through the fire before the game.
And, you know, Ted will tell you, you know, I said that we did, we thought we did everything right going into the first game. And I was like, wait a second, 90, I forget what the percent is like, 95% of my guys had never been in a college football game. Not a… not a Division I because they’ve been in junior college.
A few high school kids. There’s like 97% of guys and you go, we just got to go through the games. And so, that’s a little bit of my concern right now. But I like this group.
Coach, I appreciate you making time, you didn’t have to. We obviously appreciate our partnership with UAB Football and UAB Athletics. And, you know, good luck with everything ahead. And congrats on all your success.
Thank you so much.
All right, man.
All right, thanks.
Such great stuff from Coach, so many lessons around patience, perseverance, faith, that we can plug into our own careers, pushing through challenges, the lessons learned from doing that, and how that can help you be more patient and faithful in the plan ahead in whatever you’re doing today. That’s something that we all need. And Coach has attained it through really going at it with confidence, hurdles, challenges, and coming out on top.
Now, he mentioned Roman Harper. So I wanted to give Roman a call. Roman is a good friend of mine, and ask him not only his side of the story that Coach told, but just what Bill Clark is about as a head coach. So, check out this quick conversation I had with Roman Harper.
So, Roman, obviously, Coach Clark, being your high school football coach, the first like high-level of football you played was under this man, and having a long career you’ve had, accomplishing things you’ve accomplished on the field, talk about the foundation you got playing at Prattville High School with Bill Clark.
Roman Harper: Well, Coach Clark is always going to be somebody special to me and very dear to my heart because he taught me, he really helped a lot of the foundation of building blocks outside of my little league coach, Coach Worley, Coach Clark the only other coach I really had grown up that I actually could look back on that actually taught me something.
The fact of hard work, dedication, what it takes to win, the preparation parts of it, the mental aspect of it going into a game, like, you know, just really like your mind and your focus, being able to really lock in for two or three hours to go out there and accomplish a goal. Those are the things that he… he still harps on to this day. Now he’s just a lot looser with it. Now he’s just like let’s kids listen to music. When I had him, he was not that nice about all that stuff.
You know, I… he still gets on me now when I, you know, about my earrings in the gym, you know what I mean? So, he’s on me all the time about those little things, because to him, that’s the difference. It’s those little things and he’ll never back off of it. And I appreciate him for it. And I just know now not to wear my earrings around him or he’s going to like, “Come on, Roman, what are you doing?” I’m like, “Ugh,” he’s like, he’s like, still coach me, dude, I’m like grown up. So… but that’s just the aspect and the respect that we have for each other.
And I love him for always holding me dear and true to who I’m supposed to be.
He talked about who you are. And he said that, you know, he had no doubt that you were going to play harder and smarter than anyone he put out on the field. And he talked about, you know, your ability to be humble, yet confident, and how you’ve always come back to visit Prattville when you were in the NFL, or even visit him and UAB here in the present and how much that’s meant to him.
Just talk about like, you’re tied to that program, Prattville that is, and why you never got too big even when you won a Super Bowl to go back where it all started.
Well, I’m from there, man, that’s all I know. I am, I am part of them and they are part of me. That’s just who I am as a person. That’s how I was always raised and I’ll never back off to that. I wouldn’t be where I was without those same people that raised me and, you know, when I walk through those hallways, and just, you know, those coaches, those teachers, everything they put into me, when I was out there playing on Sundays, I mean, they play through me, so I represented not only the name on the back of my jersey, but everybody and where I’m from, and everybody in that 334 area code.
And, you know, I just know what it meant to, to so many people to see me actually succeed and do right. You know, the fact that I was one of the few that actually made it and I’m not going to sit up here and beat my chest and act like I was the best player on my high school team, because I don’t think I was, but we were darn sure really good. And I was just the smartest one. And I didn’t get caught when I did all of my dumb stuff. And I was the one that was able to make it out man.
And because of that I want to make sure I continue to represent each other on to the best of my ability and, and do the best that I could, man, and I just understood how much it meant to so many others for me to be where I was at and to be in the position that I was in and, and just you know, and I love coach Clark, I love those teachers, I love everything that they did for me and I don’t take that for granted one second. And you know, being from Prattville is an honor. I’m not from Montgomery. I’m from Prattville. That’s who I am. And trust me, if you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about.
I love it. I love it. So looking at Coach Clark, what he’s done at UAB, just thinking about the fact that this man was, after turning the program into a Bowl-eligible program was told that the program was over. And instead of looking for a job right away, he worried about his staff, his players all finding a new home.
And then, while all that is going on, people who hadn’t even supported the program come in with their dollars and their influence and save it so that he can stay there and be there for a turnaround that in less than two years turns into a championship I and a Bowl win. Like, like, that’s amazing. So to talk about watching your coach do that.
I’m not surprised. I saw what he did. When he was at Dothan, well, I heard what he did when he was at Dothan. I saw what he did from my high school program at Prattville.
I mean, within months of him showing up, the attitude, the personality of my whole team completely changed. You know, to be a 6A school and only have 30, 40 kids out there playing football, to when Coach Clark shows up within two years having 80, 90 kids out there, I mean, everything was all about winning championship and that we’re not just out here doing drills to be able to compete. We’re out to win championships.
And he’s not going to back off that. He’s… he’s going to win wherever he’s at. That’s just because Coach Clark is who he is, man. And he breathes and breathes success through his players, through his coaches, and through his program. And that’s just what he’s going to be. And he’s not going to back off of it. He’s still running the same stuff.
I mean, it’s funny to listen to him talk about all these other defenses and how now things have kind of evolved. But at the end of the day, his core still, man to man defense, cover to doing some other zone blitz games and some other things. But we can get on the board all day long and he’s still the same coach.
And that’s what makes him so special and so great, because, you know, through the thick and thin of all things, as players change, as times change, football really doesn’t change that much. It’s different people playing different positions and you get bigger, smaller in some other places, but overall, you’re still 11 or 11. And the best man usually wins on one on one matchups.
It’s awesome, man. Last question. Coach mentioned… he mentioned a story of when he first met you. And I think y’all had practice or workouts getting the season going. And he said that you missed it because you were a six flags. Tell your version of that story.
Well, I mean, that’s true. I mean, I mean, you know, growing up, we didn’t get a ton of vacation. So what is vacation time? Well, it’s vacation time. So, well, my parents are like, “Hey, we’re packing up the car. We’re going to vacation to Six Flags.” I’m not saying, “No, I won’t because I got to go workout football.”
Besides, at the time, I didn’t even work out. The most working out are never done, weightlifting-wise was. I do some jumping jacks and some jump ropes to make sure my feet were quick but I didn’t lift weights before Coach Clark got there. And we didn’t have like a weightlifting program. So besides that, I mean, I was… the previous coach had just about to kick me off the football program.
So I’m really glad he came in the time he did because there’s no telling where I’d be today without him. So, I had basketball hoop dreams, that was my thing. But Coach Clark came and I fell right back in love with football. And I fell right back in line, he allowed me to compete, go out there and have reason to go out there and play at the hardest that I can because everybody… the best player was going to play and it wasn’t like that before he got there.
And he opened the doors of so many people and allowed for other colleges to actually come to my school and actually recruit players and really give you guys a chance to actually look outside of Prattville and say, “Hey, we got a chance to make… we can go play ball somewhere and be great and, and do something bigger than just play, play football for Prattville High School and then fade off into oblivion.”
And I appreciate him for that because he opened up so many doors and just allowing us to actually think outside of the box of… that this world is bigger than just Prattville, Alabama because so many of us from where we’re from had never really been outside of Prattville and because of that you, you want to reach out there and your dreams get bigger and you start to think of larger goals and wanting to be aspirations of larger things like college or going to a D-I program or, you know, winning a national championship or even though, you only, I couldn’t say win a Super Bowl is even in my mind because that’s way beyond that.
But… but yes, that was all possible though and it starts at the small, the small stages in life in high school.
Roman, man, thanks for giving me your time. And for all the kind words about Coach. Such great stuff from Roman, really thankful he took the time to join me on the fly.
Listen, INFLCR has presented the I Want Your Job podcast, and athletes are using our platform to grab content, grow their brands. In whole, their network is 30 million unique people between Twitter and Instagram. And so, we want to pick out one of our athlete users and feature them each episode so you can hear from them what they care about when it comes to digital, social and branding.
And in this episode, we’re going to feature Kentucky basketball alum, Reid Travis, who is now playing at the pro level in the NBA. And I want you to hear what Reid talks about with me as we visited together recently when it comes to his passion for building a brand he can leverage after basketball.
So Reid, you go to Kentucky as a grad transfer from Stanford. You join this massive brand. And you hear about this platform called INFLCR that’s going to allow you to access your content in real-time as an athlete. So the moments you worked so hard to make—pictures, videos—are now going to be captured and at your fingertips real-time. And we actually met, I spoke to the team when you first got there. What were you thinking?
Reid Travis: For me, it was real important using INFLCR and being able to have all the content that I was a part of at my fingertips. After every game, I would get a text about how many different files I was tagged and different pictures that I was in and things like that.
And the biggest thing, it just helped me change my mindset as far as my brand and life after Kentucky which I thought was interesting as a lot of colleges kind of get stuck into, okay, your time here is your time here, and after that, you kind of fend for yourself. But bringing INFLCR, it really changed our mindset as far as like, how do you brand yourself. How do you market yourself? What’s going to help you one, two, three, four years down the line.
So for me it was putting out those pictures, putting the right brand out there to when I finish at Kentucky, I was actually able to go on autograph tour, sell t-shirts, engage with the fans, because of the things that I did all season. So I give them a lot of credit for kind of foreseeing those events, and really just investing in to us, because now that I’m professional, I’m glad that I was able to build that framework and that foundation while I was still at Kentucky.
Awesome stuff, Reid, just one last question, because I really got nothing else. You put it perfect. But where did you come in when you arrived at Kentucky from an audience reach standpoint? And where did you leave just in one season with Big Blue Nation?
I was right at 3,000 before INFLCR came in. And then I just think I’m around like 55,000 right now.
Thanks a ton to Reid and all of our athletes for sharing their stories and their desires with you. Because let’s face it, you want to bring and attract the best athletes to your brand. Whether you’re a pro team, whether you’re a college team, it’s all about putting the athletes first, right.
And when it comes to putting the athletes first, digital and social and branding is something they really care about. And you can hear that listening to Reid. And I love his story. I love how he was able to leverage the grad transfer opportunity at Kentucky to really grow something that he’s now able to leverage at the pro level.
And so, with that, let’s switch, we’ll stay on social and digital. But let’s switch to Ted Feeley. He’s the Associate AD for Communications at UAB. He’s also a fellow Syracuse guy, we both grew up there. And neither of us attended school there. But we’re born and bred in the 315. And he’s a guy who ended up in UAB’s athletic department at a time when the return was just getting going.
So you’re going to hear what that was like, how he approached it from a communication’s standpoint, how he leveraged new medias. But you’re also going to hear from Ted about his journey, how he found his passion in communications, how he found his passion in digital and social, how he took risks, and went to places he never thought he’d go to chase down this dream of being an athletic director in college sports. So let’s check in now with Ted Feeley.
Ted Feeley, man, I appreciate you making time. It’s a crazy time right now. Right, man, I know you got a lot going on.
Ted Feeley: Yeah, it’s fun, though. Camp is always fun. You get to tell a new story of a new team, but it’s definitely… it’s a long, long 30 days. And you know, you’re at practice for four hours. You get back. You get 50 new emails you got to answer, but it’s fun. You know, and it keeps you busy.
Now, your story is pretty, pretty fun for me, because we’re both from Syracuse, New York, 315.
And, you know, I know where you grew up, you know where I grew up. Sports is a big deal up there.
And the stories around Syracuse University, which we both grew up rooting for shaped us is people working in sports now. And you’ve had a really interesting career, bouncing around to a lot of schools. And you end up in Birmingham. And just, I want you to tell that story. And I want you to start with why did you decide to do what you do.
I knew from a young age that I had a good retention for statistics, and I just loved watching sports. I played soccer my whole life, but for some reason I was drawn to basketball. Well, Syracuse, obviously, has a big reason to do with why I was drawn to basketball because, as you know, there’s nothing up there besides Syracuse basketball that people love.
So… but basketball and football were my passion. And I actually got lucky enough through a high school soccer coach to start interning at Syracuse University when I was a junior in high school in their athletic communications department. So, you know, it was, it was a way for me to get close to Syracuse basketball action, to run stats and be on the courtside and stuff like that.
So that’s where it sparked. Went to college in Massachusetts, stayed connected with Syracuse University, would come home during winter break and everything like that. So I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something with sports, figured I was pretty good at writing and communicating like talking to people. Went to college, realize you could put that together and make it a career.
And so, here I am. It took me a while to get to Birmingham. I moved to Alaska after college for a year-long internship at University of Alaska Fairbanks. That was more of a life internship than anything. Living in Alaska, you learn a lot about yourself. You know, sports are cool as a D-II school, but you’re living in Alaska. So, you know, got that… that got me to Marshall University for two years for graduate assistantship as a GA there for two years.
Went back to Syracuse University for a year, year-long internship full time, got to work with their basketball program hands-on doing what I’m doing now in a secondary role. And that led me to University Pittsburgh where I was lucky enough to work with their football team, got to work with Aaron Donald.
Went through the whole James Conner cancer story and saw him up close and personal going through his battle. Got to work with Tyler Boyd, those are all three pretty good pros, I guess, they’re all in the Pro Bowl last year. And so, saw this opportunity to come down here and work for an unprecedented situation that’s never happened before telling their PR story of a team that was shut down and brought back and sitting on the other side of a championship two years later. It’s been, it’s been incredible.
So I always say to people, you know, being an entrepreneur and an investor, people will ask me a lot like, “What’s it like taking those risks? And, you know, have you had… what if this happen? Or what if that happen?” And I always say, “Everybody is really an investor. Everybody is investing time.”
And you made some investments. I mean, you know, just hearing that story, I’m going to go to Alaska, you’re chasing down a dream. Right? And what came out of that, for your life and your character that you mentioned, right? Being a PIT when James Conner gets diagnosed, and being able to learn from an experience you never would have known would happen, how to tell a story around adversity. And the story that might not turn out with the best resolution, the best ending happened to and it’s continuing to be one. And then those fuel somebody who’s willing to come to Birmingham, Alabama, never been here before. And you really don’t know what’s going to happen with this whole turnaround.
I mean, just talk about when you look back at those decisions, and those risks and investments that you made, how you look at them today, and how you looked at them back then maybe as well.
I think it… I think it’s my upbringing. I think my parents did a really good job of empowering me with doing, you know, allowing me to do what I wanted to do and to chase my dreams. I knew that from a young age, you know, they had me in sports. They had me playing sports, but they also would drive me up to the Carrier Dome to drop me off for the basketball game, and pick me up afterwards, you know, stuff like that.
So, I knew that I wanted to do anything possible to get to this situation and where I’m at right now and being an associate athletic director. And it’s not my end goal, I have further aspirations. But I knew that I wanted to put my career first. And I’ve been lucky enough to have those amazing experiences because of working my way up and trusting the process. But it’s stemmed from my parents giving me the ability to move to Alaska, you know. My dad bought… was the one who bought my plane ticket.
As you could imagine, as a recent graduate from college, you don’t really have a lot of money to move to Alaska, but they said, this is your start, this is going to be, you know, the start to your career. So here I am. And I have them to thank for it all.
So you get here. And you and I met the summer before The Return happened as far as a team coming on the field. And…
In Orlando; we didn’t yet. So two guys from Syracuse meet in Orlando, Florida, and realize they both ended up in Birmingham. And so, we meet there, and I’m telling you about this new company that I’m starting and that I had a company I was selling at the time that was based in Birmingham. And you know, you’re telling me about your story of I’m coming there from pit and, you know, I don’t know a lot, but I’m learning and I’ve been to this restaurant, have you been here, we’re just like two Yankees talking about what it’s like being in Birmingham.
How hot it is.
How hot it is. And you gave us a shot, right? You were one of our first clients. And for us looking at our story over the past two years since that moment, it’s probably just as surreal as it is for you as you look at The Return and all that’s happened. But talk about why you took a chance on INFLCR and how it’s been into your whole philosophy of telling this story around The Return?
Yeah, and I said this a couple weeks ago at the, at the summit that you put on but I realized when I first got here, you know, the power of social media, and people were interested in seeing how bringing back a football, a Division I football team, how that looked.
And so, I remember one of my first tweets, which I thought was normal, you know, just a summer conditioning, team sprinting, and it blew up. And so, I, you know, light bulb went on. I want some help. I, you know, I don’t have all the, all the resources here. I don’t have a team around me to do social media.
So I’ve kind of built my team out through companies that have helped me do that. And INFLCR was one of them. And, you know, you sold me on a vision.
And, you know, we talk about this all the time that our student athletes are the ones who are actually telling the story, because they’re the ones who are on the playing field, those, they’re the ones making the plays. I happen to just be sitting in the press box and, you know, I have the UAB football account. But those are… they’re the reason that we have an account. They’re the reason that there’s people in the crowd. They’re the reason that this program came back.
So, as Coach Clark just mentioned, he, he lets them tell their story. You know, he wants them… he thinks it’s important. He wants them to be respectful on social media, but he also wants them to tell their story because it is important and because people are looking at them. They do have eyes on them. So equipping them with the things that they need to tell their stories is how I’ve grown my brand, but also help grow their brand.
That’s awesome, man. And as you look at some of the athletes who’ve come through here already and some of their stories, and how you’ve been able to work with them, just like a PR person or even agent would work with a pro athlete, it’s not just here, even at Pitt, Aaron Donald, you’ve had some opportunities to really empower athletes.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you look at James Conner, when he, in his sophomore year, was the ACC Player of the Year. That next year, he went through that adversity with the knee tear and then went through cancer, you know, so I’ve had… I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some big-time athletes.
And I’m looking at Spencer Brown right now, I’m thinking, you know, he looks like Jordan Howard who played here. He runs like Jordan Howard who play here. You see what Jordan Howard has done in the NFL. So, it’s making sure that these people, these student athletes are prepared for the next level, but also trust you enough to know that you’re going to equip them with not only traditional media training, but also how to conduct themselves on social media and know that it is important because that’s just the generation that we live in now.
And, you know, there’s, there’s 115 people on our roster right now, you know, not all of them are going to go pro, but some of them are. And it’s important for them to know that their profile is bigger than just the normal student athlete that walks around or just a normal student that walks around at UAB.
They need to be ready.
They do, and it’s important for them to be ready because, you know, draft day, how many times do we see it, you know, a tweet surfaces from 2014 or 2013 that they regret. But, you know, the media will search for that. And so, we tell them, well, I stay in front of them all the time and tell them that stuff, you know, you have to be smart, and sometimes it’ll come back to bite you and I just don’t want that to fall under my watch.
It’s awesome, man. All right, so for yourself, what is your vision for the future? What’s your big goal?
Something new is happening at UAB football every single day. We were just sitting in Coach Clark’s office with the old football facility being torn down. There’s something new to show every single day at UAB football. You know, people are now curious to know what we’re going to do in year three after we had all these older Ju Co kids come in and build our program from scratch for ‘16, ‘17, ‘18. Now it’s the recruit the recruits who were freshmen and sophomores in the program, but now it’s their turn to play. So there’s always something you can spin. There’s always a new story to tell. And this year, it’s intriguing to see what we’re going to do in year three coming off a championship.
But, you know, showing that it’s a big deal to our fans that our old facility is coming down, because whether there’s good memories or bad memories, there’s memories happening. And so that’s something to show, just showing depicting our campus because it’s growing rapidly every day, the city is growing rapidly every day. And I think UAB football has been a huge reason as to why there’s been this boom in Birmingham and why Birmingham is, you know, looked at in a different light than it was maybe 5, 10, 15 years ago.
What about for your career? What’s your big goal?
Eventually, I’d like to be an athletic director. I think I have a lot of things to learn. I think my athletic director here has done a really good job of knowing that I want to be an athletic director, and he’s, he’s given me a lot of responsibilities along those lines and, and helping me build my resume. You know, I’m getting married here in Birmingham next summer. So that’s, that’s the next goal. A girl from Chicago and again, from Syracuse, getting married in Birmingham, Alabama.
I love it.
So I don’t have any immediate plans to leave. I mean, I’m really happy with where I’m at right now. And we have a new stadium coming. We have all this momentum. Coach Clark talks about, you know, why can’t we be the Boise State. Why can’t we be the Central Florida? I want to help that. I mean, we can be that. Birmingham can be that. And I think we’re on the path to doing that. So I want to continue to help lead that charge.
I love it. What’s your advice to young professionals who work in this digital, social creative part of college athletics? Because I think there’s a disconnect, right? There’s, there’s a disconnect from top level leadership, understanding the value. Now, they, of course, understand a lot more today than they did five years ago because these positions exist.
These positions didn’t even exist five years ago, but still tangibly understanding the value of social, of digital, of content, of taking storytelling into your own hands versus depending on ESPN or the national media to do it for you. And so, for young professionals, that disconnect that I’m talking about seems to be knowing their value and knowing how to show it to their athletic director, show it to leadership. So what’s your advice to young people coming up and how to do that?
I think people don’t understand that social media is actually difficult. And it’s hard. It’s, it’s good to be… it’s hard to be creative at social media. You have to… you have to work at it. And you have to dedicate yourself to it.
I mean, if, if you don’t have a creative team, if you don’t have six or seven people collaborating every day on social media, you have to go that extra mile because it is important. And because we don’t have the ESPN knocking on our doors every day. But that’s how we’re going to show our message. And we want to make sure that we are targeting recruits, because that’s going to be the future of our program, but also that we’re putting out quality content and original content.
And, you know, there’s 300, and however many schools that are all on social media, and everybody wants to be good at it. But it’s a… it’s a fine art of making sure that your graphics are different than someone else’s, that you’re showing things that other schools aren’t, you have a plan or, you know, you want people to look at your stuff and say, “That’s awesome. That’s really cool. I really like what UAB is doing.” Whether that’s a future employer who works here, whether that’s a feature recruit, you never know, like, you know, we could have the best player in UAB football history walk through the doors next week, and say, “I really like what you guys are doing on social media,” and it might affect their decision.
So… but it’s work and it’s hard. And you got to, you got to dedicate yourself to it, because it’s not going away. And, you know, if you don’t tweet, if you don’t put things on Instagram, people are going to wonder why. And so, you just got to make sure that you’re populating it but with original and quality content.
I love the advice because, it’s funny, I was just chatting with one of your peers who you know, and he’s in a similar position to you, but at a very big school, very big, nationally prominent program. And, you know, his situation is different, right? He has 10 people just for that one team who are traveling with the team, right.
But you, since Alaska, Fairbanks have learned that you just need a chance, and if you have a chance, you can find the resources and the people but you now hold the storytelling for this account, and with that chance, you can find out ways to do things that are original.
Yeah. Doing an internship was probably… a couple internships was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, you know. Everybody wants that first full-time job out of college, but you got to craft your skills, you got to… you got to do different experiences. You got to learn about yourself, you know. You got to realize what works, what doesn’t work for… not just for social media, but for your life and being faced with adversity.
If you… you know, just getting a full-time job, it might not be what you want. You got to learn what you want. I was lucky enough to know that I wanted to do something in the world of communications my whole life. But if kids, you know, out of these, now, you know, they graduate and they don’t know what they want to do, and they just go get a full-time job just to have a full-time job, my best advice is to have an internship, learn what you like, learn what you don’t like and then apply it.
Lastly, Coach Clark, it doesn’t work… what you’re doing here, us working together, INFLCR and UAB football, like, it doesn’t work without the head man seeing the vision, taking time to grasp it, and let alone he does it himself. He’s on Twitter every day. I look forward to his WTD, you know, posts. How important is that then and just talk about what it’s like working with Bill Clark?
Working with Bill Clark has been one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had in the experience to work with.
He respects the media. He values the media. He knows how to handle the media. And there’s not a lot of… I don’t have to give them talking points. I don’t have to force him to come after practice and talk to our local media. He truly appreciates and likes talking to them. And it makes my job so much easier. You know, in any communication spot, you have to learn what the coach likes, what he doesn’t like, how to maneuver that, and everything like that.
But we have a fantastic working relationship, that I can’t even name a handful of times that we haven’t seen eye on something. And so… and if he does, he’ll pull me in and we’ll just have an adult conversation and it won’t happen again.
You know, instead of, you know, he can yell at his players all he wants and everything like that, and he can yell at me too, but he doesn’t, you know, he… we talk and we have a good relationship and he values what I do here for his program.
And he knows that it’s important that, you know, we show our program together and he likes using social media and he knows I like using social media. So it goes back to not only just empowering your student athletes but you have the head coach of a program that likes social media, it makes my job so much easier especially because not only is he tweeting for himself and putting his own message out there but then he, you know, he’s cooperative in any other aspect of media. And so, it’s just been a really good experience and something I look forward to continuing with him.
Man, Ted, I appreciate you making time. Like I said, I know it’s a busy time of year but really cool to sit down and hear your story and envision what’s ahead. It’s a lot of exciting stuff.
Thank you for having me on. It’s, it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been fun and it’s definitely a story that I’m lucky that I have been able to tell.
All right, brother, good luck with everything.
Man, I love this episode. I just love the story of the return. I love the odds against Coach Clark and UAB and how he persevered and just kept the vision and rallied folks around it, rallied recruits around it, built a program that’s done its best than it’s ever done in history. And I love, obviously, the stories from Roman and Ted’s story is phenomenal as well. If you’re a social or digital professional in sports, it’s a great roadmap to follow.
All the show notes from these interviews are available at INFLCR.com. That’s I-N-F-L-C-R.com. Go to the menu option, choose podcasts, and choose episode three with Bill Clark, the head football coach at UAB. When you click on that, you’ll see all the key show notes from this episode, all the takeaways, links, ways to follow Coach Clark and Ted Feeley and Roman Harper for that matter on social media.
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I want to thank my team for putting this together. I want to thank you for taking the time to listen. I want to let you know, we have some amazing episodes coming here in season one of I Want Your Job, more head coaches, not just football.
We’re going to go into basketball because basketball season is coming, more social and digital professionals. We have media executives coming on, including a media executive from The Players’ Tribune. We have a lot of fun stuff coming your way and I’m not going to tease it any further. I’m just going to encourage you to subscribe, share, and follow us at INFLCR, I-N-F-L-C-R to stay tuned for episode four and the rest of season one of episodes for I Want Your Job.