In the fastest coaching search in their Division I history, the Gamecocks promoted offensive coordinator John Grass to succeed Bill Clark on Tuesday night. The move came mere hours after Clark resigned after one season to become head coach at UAB.
Grass, 45, will be formally introduced Thursday.
It took the Gamecocks 19 days to name Clark as the successor to Jack Crowe in 2012.
“This all transpired in the last few hours,” Grass said. “It’s been a hard situation for everybody in the last week and a half. This brings some closure to it so we can move forward.”
Terms of Grass’ contract were not immediate available. He is believed to be getting at least a three-year deal paying at least the $175,000 annually paid to Clark.
He will give up his offensive coordinator title but keep a hand in the play-calling. His offense set records for points and yardage last season and returns a record-setting running back. Given the two coaches’ similar philosophies, he said the Gamecocks would remain “very similar” in look in all three phases of the game that it had under Clark.
He said it was “too early” to talk about a staff, but it likely would be a mix of new faces and holdovers from the Clark staff.
It has been a quick ride for Grass. Two years ago, he was the head coach at Oxford High School with several Division I prospects on his roster. Today, he’s in charge of a collegiate program with a legitimate chance to challenge for the FCS national championship.
Last year was his first year as a collegiate head coach. In his 17 years as a high school head coach, he compiled a record of 122-61. He was 41-16 in five seasons at Oxford.
Bill Burgess, who took the Gamecocks to their only national championship in football (1992), coached at Oxford before going to JSU.
“That rollercoaster has been fast,” Grass said. “It is truly an amazing story, to rise from the high school ranks to one year removed be in the FCS. I count it as a blessing. The Lord’s hand is all over it. Words can’t describe how excited I am.”
Grass called it pivotal to the program to fill the vacancy quickly. National Signing Day is three weeks away and the Gamecocks have large groups of prospects due on campus each of the next two weeks.
“I can’t emphasize how important it was to get this done tonight and not break the routine for the players here,” Grass said. “It helps with all the recruits, keeps them in the boat and moving forward. If this had drug on even a few days it would’ve hurt you.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.