Bernard Clark at a glance...
Prominent Players Coached
Bernard Clark enters his first year in 2011 as the Rams' linebackers coach. He was hired by Steve Fairchild on March 7, 2011. Clark, a standout linebacker that won two national titles at Miami (Fla.) and has three years of experience as a college defensive coordinator, replaced Scott Brown, who left to become defensive line coach at Arizona State. The Sun Devils' current head coach, Dennis Erickson, ironically was Clark's head coach at Miami in 1989, when the Hurricanes won their second national title in three years, denying No. 7 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. During that senior year, Clark's defensive coordinator was Sonny Lubick and his position coach was Tommy Tuberville. Other Miami assistant coaches during his playing career included Dave Wannstedt, Butch Davis, Dave Arnold and Ed Orgeron.
In 1989, Erickson had filled the void at Miami left by Jimmy Johnson, who replaced Tom Landry as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson was Clark's head coach two years earlier, in 1987, when the linebacker earned MVP honors of the Orange Bowl national championship. Clark, one of just three Hurricanes to start for both the 1987 and 1989 national title teams (joining All-American DE Greg Mark and C Bobby Garcia), had 14 solo tackles to help then-No. 2 Miami corral No. 1 Oklahoma and its wishbone attack, 20-14. The Hurricanes limited the Sooners, who entered averaging 428.8 rushing yards, to just 179. He helped Miami win 36 consecutive games, until the No. 1 Hurricanes lost a controversial decision, 31-30, to eventual national champion Notre Dame in 1988. But Clark and Miami avenged the loss during his 1989 senior year, turning away the No. 1-ranked Irish, 27-10, thanks largely to a critical play by Clark in a 10-10 game just before half. In addition to his 17 tackles that day, Clark intercepted Tony Rice to set up a TD just before intermission and permanently swing the game's momentum, paving the road to his second national title at Miami.
Clark's Miami teammates, which defeated the nation's No. 1 team every year of his Hurricane career, included LB Randy Shannon, QB Steve Walsh, WR Michael Irvin and DTs Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland. The middle linebacker on one of the top defenses in college football history, his 1989 unit held six teams without a touchdown while giving up just 9.3 points per game. His 1985 signing class would become the winningest group in school annals, and he was the third of nine players selected from Miami in the 1990 NFL Draft. Prior to coming to Fort Collins, Clark spent the 2010 season as linebackers coach at Pitt, where he coached for Dave Wannstedt, his position coach as a player when the Hurricanes won that '87 national title. The Panthers, who went 8-5 after a victory over the SEC's Kentucky Wildcats in the BBVA Compass Bowl, finished eighth in the nation in total defense and 17th in sacks, led in part by MLB Max Gruder, the team leader in fumble recoveries and second-leading tackler.
In 2009, Clark served as defensive coordinator at Hampton, where his unit ranked fifth in the nation among FCS teams in tackles for loss and 13th in total defense. Over the previous two seasons, 2007-08, Clark spent his second of two stints at Florida International, the latter of which was in the role of defensive line coach. From 2004-05, he was FIU's first-ever defensive coordinator. ESPN in 2007 recognized one of his FIU defensive line pupils, Audric Adger, after the senior tied a single-game school record with four sacks. In 2004, his FIU unit surrendered 478 yards per contest against a Division I-AA schedule. However, in 2005 against a Division I-A slate, he improved the Panthers' numbers by more than 100 yards per game, thanks in part to a single-game NCAA record four interceptions returned for touchdowns during one contest.
Sandwiched between those two tenures at FIU, Clark spent a year in the Big East Conference, 2006, as defensive line coach at South Florida. The Bulls that season ranked 14th nationally in sacks per game, 21st in scoring defense and 26th in total defense. USF concluded 2006 with nine wins, matching a school record, by turning away East Carolina in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. Before joining FIU in 2004, Clark spent four years (2000-03) as the linebackers and special teams coach at Liberty University.
From 1998-99, Clark tutored defensive ends at James Madison, his first college coaching role, helping the Dukes win the 1989 Atlantic 10 championship. He spent a year at Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic High School in 1997, after launching his coaching career in 1996 as a volunteer assistant at King High School in Tampa, Fla. After helping Miami to the 1989 national title, Clark was selected in the third round (65th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played 28 games in the NFL from 1990-91, with the Bengals and Seattle Seahawks. Johnson, his former head coach, invited him to Dallas Cowboys camp in 1992, before Clark shifted gears and played for the Arena League's Orlando Predators in 1994 and '96.
Before signing with Johnson as part of the coach's first Miami recruiting class, in February 1985, Clark was a stalwart prep player at Tampa's Leto High School in the early 1980s. Born Jan. 12, 1967, in Tampa., Fla., Clark and his wife, Tammy, live in Fort Collins. He owns a B.A. in business administration (Miami '89). His parents gave him the nickname Tiger when he was a baby, due to his tendency to fight like a tiger when they lifted him from his crib.