Pardon me while my mind runneth over …
n Charlestonians watching the Dec. 21 New Orleans Bowl between Appalachian State and UAB will see a familiar face on the Mountaineer sideline as the team’s head coach.
George Washington High graduate Shawn Clark is serving as ASU’s interim head coach after Eli Drinkwitz left to take the top job at Missouri. Clark is a former two-time All-American, a three-time All-Southern Conference pick and a four-year starter at Appalachian State, graduating in 1998.
Since leaving the Mountaineers as a player, Clark had stints at Louisville as a graduate assistant and at Eastern Kentucky, Purdue and Kent State coaching the offensive line before returning to Boone, North Carolina, in 2016. As a Mountaineer assistant, he has coached the offensive line and served as co-offensive coordinator before getting promoted to assistant head coach.
And there’s a chance Clark could be the Mountaineers’ head coach beyond the New Orleans Bowl. He has been discussed as a contender for the permanent job and has received some support from his players.
If that happens, it could add a little juice to the upcoming home-and-home between Appalachian State and Marshall in 2021-22. And to be a Football Bowl Subdivision head coach in a place as beautiful as Boone would be a pretty sweet gig.
n Speaking of college football coaching, ESPN released its top 150 coaches for 150 years of college football. Looking for some Mountain State connections? There are plenty.
Two former WVU coaches are on the list – Bobby Bowden at No. 8 and Don Nehlen at No. 79. There also are several West Virginia natives on the list who found success abroad.
That starts all the way at No. 2 with Fairmont native Nick Saban, who returned Alabama to the juggernaut ways it enjoyed with No. 1 on ESPN’s list, Paul “Bear” Bryant. Fairview native and former WVU player Fielding Yost, who had his greatest success coaching Michigan, was at No. 18. Follansbee-born Lou Holtz, whose 1988 Notre Dame team won a national title after beating WVU in the Fiesta Bowl, was at No. 23.
Buckhannon-born Arnett “Ace” Mumford won six black college national championships across four decades and won 179 games as Southern’s coach. He made the list at No. 34. Point Pleasant native Ben Schwartzwalder played at WVU, then coached at Sistersville and Parkersburg high schools before earning fame at Syracuse.
He was at No. 41.
Clarksburg’s Jimbo Fisher, who replaced Bowden at FSU, won a national title and then moved to Texas A&M, was at No. 110.
So of the top 150 coaches in college football history, eight have West Virginia connections? That’s not too bad for a little state like ours.
n And moving from football to futbol, you have to stand up and give a hand to the University of Charleston men’s soccer team. The Golden Eagles are preparing for their fifth national semifinal in the last six seasons.
Think about that for a second. UC has been among the final four teams in the Division II national title race all but once in the last six years. That includes a 2017 national title and runner-up finishes in two other seasons.
It’s pretty difficult for a Division II program in any sport to build itself into a national program, but UC has done it in men’s soccer. And now the Golden Eagles will see if they can add a little more hardware to the trophy case this weekend.