Bernard Clark Press Conference

As a former car salesman, Bernard Clark didn't believe he would have any trouble recruiting for the Pitt football program, especially when one considers what the Panthers have to offer.

Clark, the team's new linebackers coach, offered his thoughts on coming to Pittsburgh.

"The first thing that attracted me to Pitt was Coach Wannstedt, and then it's the Pitt program that's built on tradition and on history,'' Clark said. "There have been a lot of great players who have come through here like Tony Dorsett and Hugh Green, who happens to be a good friend of mind.

"So, it's a great situation for me. I met Hugh when I was being recruited by the University of Miami, and he and Coach (Jimmy) Johnson were good friends. Coach Johnson introduced me to him, and we stayed friends ever since i was in high school. So, those were the initial connections to Pitt.''

Pitt fans are hopeful that Clark can mold a successful linebacking corps like the one he played on for Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt when the two were at Miami. Clark earned two national championship rings with the Hurricanes.

"I've only seen Pitt's players on film, but they look good,'' Clark said. "They look real fast and have a lot of potential. So, I'm excited about coaching them. (And) I love the way they do things here and the scheme that they use.

"It's the same scheme that we used at the University of Miami when I played for Coach Wannstedt there. It's a good, active defense that's built around the players' talents, not as much the scheme, and it's built around putting guys in a position to make plays. And that's what I love about this defense.''

Clark didn't mention many Panthers by name, but he believed getting accustomed to Pitt's scheme and schedule wouldn't be too difficult.

"They have some great players here,'' Clark said. "There's no doubt about it. Greg Williams, he's probably the player I've heard about more than anyone else right now, as far as the ability that he has and some of the things that he's done. (But) it shouldn't be too tough for me to get acclimated to things here.

"The scheme basically is the same one that I know with just a little different terminology. What I will have to get used to is the snow and cold weather. The only time I used to see white stuff was when it was white sand. So, I'm still getting used to that right now.''

After the Panthers knocked off North Carolina in their bowl game to cap a 10-3 season and earn a No. 15 final ranking, Wannstedt boldly claimed that Pitt was back on the national map, so to speak. Clark readily agreed.

"They're doing a lot of great things here, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to get on board,'' Clark said. "I really want to help coach Wannstedt build this thing to even greater (achievements). The best things would be to win the Big East and maybe even go on to win the national championship.

"I'm not trying to put any extra pressure on Coach Wannstedt or anything like that, but I think that's what he's expecting more than anything else. And I want to help him accomplish that.''

Clark replaced Joe Tumpkin as Pitt's linebackers coach. Tumpkin's primary recruiting area was Florida, and with his ties to the area should increase Pitt's presence there. But that won't be his only territory.

"We haven't really talked about it too much, but I know he's going to have me in Florida,'' Clark said. "I think he also wants to put me in Ohio as well. I enjoy recruiting, and I enjoy going into houses.

"Believe it or not, I was a car salesman before I got into coaching. So, the negotiating with players to come to Pitt will be similar, but when you walk into a high school with Pitt on your shirt it stands out a little bit. As I said, this just isn't a college team. It's a program.''

So, what will Clark say to a prospective recruit about Pitt to close the deal?

"I'd just list all the great things about Pitt,'' Clark said. "They've won nine national championships. There's an opportunity to win the Big East. Pitt has a rich history. Mike Ditka played here. Hugh Green played here.

"Mark May, guys who you watched every Saturday. And the fact that we have a complex that we share with the Pittsburgh Steelers isn't too bad, either.''

And what did Clark think about the recent ESPN documentary 30-30, The U. about his former University of Miami teams?

"I loved it, but I'm in it all the time,'' Clark said.

Clark spoke to the media prior to the Pitt-West Virginia men's basketball game tonight at the Petersen Events Center.

Panther More Top Stories