Steve Clark understands the first law of the universe better than most men. In fact, it is with great humility and gratitude he embraces and acknowledges that fact and unashamedly testifies to its truth.
He credits the birth of his football coaching career to his wife.
It is undisputed in his mind. He is not conflicted. Without Suzanne stepping in and carrying the giant's share of parenting four children, running the household and bringing in paychecks, he never would have become the offensive coordinator at SUU, Weber State and now as one of the chief assistants to BYU’s new offensive coordinator Ty Detmer.
And then there’s the second law of the universe: He credits his mother-in-law. Unashamedly again, and without reserve. Clark says Suzanne’s mother, Judy Seegmiller, was a pillar of support and inspiration, a foundation for his coaching career.
There. As a man, Clark owns the scoreboard.
I asked Clark, who has done just about everything he could to get into football coaching, about the job he loves with all his soul. He quickly names the price payer.
“I’ve loved every minute of it but the hard thing was I had four kids when I started in it. Who paid the price was my wife. I went eight years where I got paid maybe three of those years. I got to know people and grind it away but every day I was doing football. It was my wife who held down the fort and handled the finances and it was a lot more taxing on her. To get here is a huge blessing for her more than it is for me.”
Suzanne worked when she could. “Her father, Craig Seegmiller, who played baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, died of Alzheimer’s at age 55 and my mother-in-law moved in with us and she worked and helped out. While it seems like I get credit, it was really because of their support. Without them I couldn’t have done it, not at all.”
Clark gets emotional talking about Suzanne and Judy. Their sacrifices were monumental — and timely.
It nicks him to his core.
Suzanne has taught school and worked in hospitals, in billing and labor and delivery. “She types like none I’ve ever seen. She’s done it all,” Clark says. “Nothing was beneath her. She had a great résumé and would have a job within a day wherever we moved.”
He said the great lesson he and Suzanne have learned is that even though they are grateful, they haven’t made it. They need to continue to scratch and claw their way and this BYU gig, while a dream come true, is only another stage on which Steve must prove himself, make it work and prove to others what he can do. He will not rest, his work is plenty, his case still before the juries of his profession.
“It’s all on me now,” he says.
Now, Clark has a front-row seat to a new football regime at BYU with the return of the beloved Detmer. The road Clark's taken has led to BYU and Utah as a graduate assistant, Saint Mary’s College in California, the SUU Thunderbirds and the Weber State Wildcats.
As a former offensive coordinator, Clark is uniquely trained to help Detmer with the nuances of putting together game plans, breaking down defenses, advising and being advised. He’ll take orders and carry them out. He’ll do whatever it takes because that's the humility strand in his DNA.
Clark loves every day with Detmer.
“First of all, I’ve never been around anybody who’s accomplished as much as he has, who is more humble,” said Clark.
“He listens to not only me but all his coaches. His experiences, well, he’s done things. I tell him how I did it at SUU and Weber State and he listens and might say, ‘That’s good, how you did it, but how about we take that and tweak it a little this way?’ It is still his show and he’ll take as much as he needs and I’ll give as much as he needs but at the same time he has to be completely comfortable with it all because it’s his show and we are here to support him in that effort.”
Clark says the time he’s spent talking with Detmer has stood out the past month on the job. Detmer regularly tells stories of playing for Jon Gruden and how he did things.
“(Ty) tells stories of how Brett Favre did things, how Mike Holmgren did things and how it was working with Steve Mariucci. To hear that stuff is like a kid in a candy store. To work with someone who has worked with so many knowledgeable people in the game is incredible.
“I love coming to work every day and Ty will take five or 10 minutes and tell us how things were done at San Francisco, Green Bay or Philadelphia.”
Clark says this spring, under Kalani Sitake, the number one focus has been more on fundamentals than schemes. “He wants to build a foundation, to have good footwork and hand placement, so the emphasis hasn’t been to get things in, as much as it is to get things done correctly. It isn’t that you are a jack of all trades and master of none. We do have a base offense put in.
“It’s going great. The kids love the game, they hustle, they’ve been taught to hustle and they’ve picked it up very well.”
Clark’s assignment is to coach BYU’s tight ends. He likes the progress and attitude his group is making.
And he likes the fact it’s all just begun, that there is much more to do and achieve.
And he's set the record straight on who should get credit for his endeavors, be it in the past, present or future … come what may.