Scouting Potential AD Candidates: Dwight Clark

Most Clemson fans have Dwight Clark listed near the top of their wish list to replace retiring Terry Don Phillips. We included him in our initial and need to discuss Clark as a candidate for the Clemson Athletics Director job. This will be the only Clemson-related suggestion we investigate as STS thinks that Clemson must look outside the upstate and its alumni to find its future athletics leader.

Clark Quick Facts:

  • Born: Kinston, NC—1957
  • Clemson Connection: 1979 Alumni (1976-78 football letterman)
  • Professional Football (Playing): Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers (1979-1988)
  • Professional Football (Admin): San Francisco 49ers Front Office (1988-1998), Cleveland Browns (1998-2002)

Background:

Clark was born in Kinston, NC in early 1957 and came to Clemson in 1975. Clark was a receiver at Clemson. I'll note that his receiving numbers during his playing days were not particularly impressive. As most point out, Jerry Butler was Steve Fuller's main target, Clemson was more of a running oriented team then-placing more emphasis on perimeter blocking by the receivers instead of pass catching, and Clark had some nagging injuries in his final year at CU. Clark was drafted in the 10th round of the 1979 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers following his time in Pickens County. See below for his collegiate playing stats.

Clemson

Year

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

1976

5

99

19.8

0

1977

17

265

15.6

1

1978

11

207

18.8

2

Tot.

33

571

17.3

3

DC was a playing standout in the professional game, playing nine seasons in the Bay area, two of which ('81 and '82) he was an All-Pro selection. Clark was a member of the 1981 and 1984 World Champions following victories in Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX, respectively. His most famous moment as a professional, most of you know, was a play forever known in professional sports as "The Catch." Clark snagged a ball in the back of the end-zone from Joe Montana near game's completion to help lift the Forty Niners over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship game. This play is repeated over and over again, particularly during the playoffs or whenever the Boys and Niners play one another. Pro stats are shown below.

San Francisco

Year

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

1979

18

232

12.9

0

1980

82

991

12.1

8

1981

85

1105

13

4

1982

60

913

15.2

5

1983

70

840

12

8

1984

52

880

16.9

6

1985

54

705

13.1

10

1986

61

794

13

2

1987

24

290

12.1

5

Tot.

506

6750

13.3

48

For Dwight's on-the-field successes, his number was retired by San Francisco and he was inducted into the Clemson University Athletics Hall of Fame. Following his playing career, Clark served 10 years in the San Francisco front office, eventually reaching the position of General Manager after stints as organizational Vice President and Coordinator of Football Operations. During his time on the administrative team, the Forty Niners won the Super Bowl three more times, giving DC five total rings.

Clark followed Carmen Policy to Cleveland in 1998-Policy Team President and Clark General manager. This was an especially difficult task as the Browns were an expansion team at this point, playing their first games since Art Modell moved the original club to Baltimore. His time in Cleveland is best remembered for some questionable personnel/draft decisions and a power struggle with Butch Davis that eventually resulted in Clark's resignation and Davis/Pete Garcia ascending to control this spot.

Why would Clark potentially be a good choice to replace Terry Don Phillips?

First and foremost, Dwight Clark is a winner and Dwight has made the most of opportunities that popped up over his life. His entry into the professional football ranks is a prime example. As a senior, he played a very limited role in the Clemson passing attack. It was only after Bill Walsh and the San Francisco coaches/scouts came to Clemson to work out Steve Fuller that they noticed Clark. Fuller needed someone to throw routes to and Clark was that man-impressing Walsh enough to take a chance on him in the late rounds of the '79 draft. DC jumped on that opportunity and the rest is, as they say, history.

Additionally, Clark was in the middle of college and professional sports for several decades. He understands the plight of the athlete and also understands how the management side of things works. Knowing both sides of the coin gives him better insight of the whole process and allows him to better relate to both parties.

Specifically, Clark fans will point to his time in NFL front offices and his experience as general manager both in San Fran and in Cleveland. This role requires one to accurately evaluate talent/situations and best allocate resources to put the right people in the right situations to assure success. One would assume that if Clark could run a professional football program, he is more than apt to lead Clemson's athletics programs.

Since Clark's departure from professional football, he has also had his hands in various other ventures and businesses. Clark is active in merchandising, makes promotional appearances, is a motivational speaker, and is involved in various businesses including insurance and real estate. Clearly, the man understands how to appropriate his time and is motivated to keep on trudging along from football player to football manager to a career completely outside the game.

Clark almost certainly could excite the fanbase. He is a Clemson man, Clemson Alumnus, and Clemson football player. He played on the teams that turned Clemson from a little known group into the team that retired Woody Hayes while winning 11 football games in the process. The fanbase would eat that up and, almost certainly, would give him lenience, respect, and-very important-donations from day 1.

In a nutshell, Clark is a Clemson man, he played sports at the world's highest level, managed professional sporting teams, and asserted himself as an able businessman. The combination of these attributes clearly draws interest from the Clemson faithful.

Why would Dwight Clark potentially not be a good fit at Clemson?

Clark, as presented above, has his hands in various other ventures. It is possible that he has no interest in a job that would require so much of his time outside of current undertakings. To keep with that theme, the location could play a factor. Clark currently lives in California and apparently enjoys life out on the West Coast. A job as CU's AD would mean a move across country and out of a region that has embraced him for over thirty years.

Dwight has been out of the day to day football business for the better part of a decade. If he wanted to get back into the groove of running a sporting program, it surely would take a readjustment period. Additionally, Clark has never run an athletics department. I understand he is a successful business man and had success on the business side of pro football but there are differences in being a pro general manager and being a collegiate GM. In addition to the day to day operations, the AD must be out soliciting donations. He must marry together the staff, alumni, Board of Trustees, and fans. He must present a vision for the program-including facilities upgrades and personnel moves.

Overall

Clearly, Clark is someone the University will at least want to approach and gauge interest. Clark has many positives on his resume and would fit in well in Pickens County. If there is interest, the search committee will need to evaluate how long a transition into the college game would take and if running a collegiate program meshes with past pro success.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Shakin The Southland

You must be a member of Shakin The Southland to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Shakin The Southland. You should read them.

Join Shakin The Southland

You must be a member of Shakin The Southland to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Shakin The Southland. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker