In 2017, Michael Clark enters his 23rd season as head coach of the Bridgewater football program and his 38th year as a collegiate coach. Clark is the longest tenured coach in Bridgewater College football history.
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Clark is from a football family. His father Joe Clark, whom he played High School football for at Cincinnati Indian Hill, is in the Ohio High School Hall of Fame in the state where he picked up 237 high school victories.
Since 2000, the Eagles are 132-53 under Clark’s direction, have hoisted the ODAC title on five occasions and have appeared in 16 NCAA playoff games. In the fall of 2009, the Eagles secured their 100th win under Clark’s direction and currently stand 143-90-1 during his tenure.
Clark was the Don Hansen's Football Gazette 2001 National Coach of the Year, and was twice named the South Region Coach of the Year by that publication. He has been named the Virginia State Coach of the Year five times by VaSID, five times by the Richmond Touchdown Club, and once by the Norfolk Touchdown Club.
In one of college football's great turnarounds, the 13 winning seasons under Clark this century already has surpassed the five the program enjoyed in its’ previous 64 years of competition. It is a run that has included five ODAC Championships, a 36-game conference winning streak, and 16 NCAA Playoff games. The BC post-season experience peaked in 2001 where the Eagles finished their best season in school history with a 12-1 record, losing in the Stagg Bowl, the Division III national championship game, to perennial power Mount Union, 30-27.
Bridgewater nearly returned to the top of the ODAC in 2014, finishing 8-2 and missing out on an NCAA automatic bid on tiebreakers.
Clark was named the VaSID Virginia State Coach of the Year for the fifth time in six years in 2005, winning his fifth straight ODAC championship and fourth ODAC Coach of the Year honor. The Eagles went 10-2, defeating Washington & Jefferson and Thiel in the NCAA tournament to reach the quarterfinals.
2004 brought an ODAC championship and an 8-3 mark, with the Eagles falling 55-48 in double-overtime to Washington & Jefferson in the NCAA tournament. It was the only first round defeat during Bridgewater's six consecutive playoff appearances from 2000-2005.
In 2003, Bridgewater knocked off Waynesburg, Christopher Newport and Lycoming to reach the NCAA semifinals, allowing an average of just 12 points per game over the opening three postseason rounds. The Eagles were eliminated by Mount Union in a rematch of the 2001 title game.
Bridgewater earned its second straight ODAC championship and undefeated regular season in 2002, with Clark being named the Virginia State and ODAC Coach of the Year for a third straight time. BC earned one of four first round byes in the NCAA tournament and edged King's 19-17 to reach the quarterfinals. The Eagles were eliminated 38-32 by Trinity to end the year with a mark of 11-1.
Bridgewater's incredible postseason run under Clark began in 2000. The Eagles (10-2) missed out on the ODAC title but earned an at-large NCAA bid and defeated Washington & Jefferson before being eliminated in overtime by Trinity in the Sweet 16.
Under Clark, Bridgewater has become far and away the most prominent ODAC school in national competition, recording 10 of the conference's 14 NCAA tournament victories and its only two final four appearances.
Clark started his coaching career as the defensive line and linebackers coach at Murray State University in 1980 and helped Frank Beamer’s Racers to 44 wins in five seasons and a stay in the Division I-AA national poll for 25 straight weeks. After a stint as wide receivers coach at his alma mater Cincinnati from 1986-87, Clark rejoined Beamer at Virginia Tech in 1988 serving as the Hokies’ defensive coordinator for five seasons. In 1993, Clark moved to Virginia Military Institute serving as the Keydets’ defensive coordinator in 1993 and quarterback coach in 1994 before being named the 14th Bridgewater head coach on January 16, 1995.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Clark earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati in English Literature and was a four-year letter winner in football as a defensive back. He helped the Bearcats to a 9-2 record and a top 20 national ranking during the 1976 season. At graduation he was given the school’s "Mr. Bearcat Award" as the outstanding graduating male senior at the University of Cincinnati in 1980.
Clark has served on various committees at the ODAC, AFCA and NCAA level in his 36-year coaching career.
Clark lives in Bridgewater with his wife Sharon. The couple has two daughters, Megan Clark Velez, a 2004 Bridgewater graduate, who completed her law degree from George Mason University and works for the FDA Policy office while residing in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband JD and their children Joey and Nora. Clark’s younger daughter Erin, who has a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University, works for the United States Army as an Operations Research Analyst in Alexandria, Virginia.