Torchy Clark

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Eugene "Torchy" Clark
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born 1929
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Died April 22, 2009(2009-04-22) (aged 80)
Orlando, Florida
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1969–1983 UCF
Head coaching record
Overall 274–89 (.755)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
5 Sunshine State Conference Season Championships
1 Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship
Awards
4 Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Years
Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Decade
Records
Most wins in UCF history (274)

Eugene "Torchy" Clark (1929 to 2009) was an American college basketball coach. He was the first head coach of the UCF Knights men's basketball team that represents the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Then named Florida Technological University, Clark served as the university's head basketball coach from 1969 to 1983.[1]

During his 14-year tenure at UCF, Clark never had a losing season, and built the Knights into a national power, leading the team to five Sunshine State Conference regular season championships, one conference tournament championship and six NCAA tournament appearances in eight years. In 1978, Clark led the Knights, which at the time were riding a 24–game winning streak, to the Final Four. During his tenure, the Knights were ranked in the top 10 nationally for seven consecutive years.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

Clark served as UCF's, then FTU's, first head basketball coach.[3] In 1969, Clark, who was a Wisconsin high school coach, was responsible for starting the university's basketball program from scratch. In their first year, as a club level team, the Knights went 11–3, including a 99–38 victory in their first game over Massey Tech.[2] The first season would serve as an omen for UCF basketball, with Clark bringing the university unprecedented success as a Division II team.

As the Knights head coach, Clark earned Sunshine State Coach of the Year honors four times and won the conference's coach of the decade award. While at UCF, Clark coached both of his sons, Bo and Mike. All three men are members of the UCF Athletic Hall of Fame, and Clark is a member of the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame.[4] Bo is the Knight's all-time leading scorer with Mike second on the list, and as a freshman in 1976 Bo was the nation's leading scorer.[5] The father-son duo were featured in a 1979 Sports Illustrated issue.[5]

Clark coached his last game as a Knight on February 26, 1983, with UCF falling to Florida Southern. During his tenure, Clark's squads went 274–89, winning 20 or more games in a season seven times. In the decade after Clark retired, the Knights had only one winning season, the year after he left.[6]

Before coaching men's college basketball, Clark was the basketball coach at Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. Among the players he coached there was Bob "Rocky" Bleier, who later overcame debilitating war wounds suffered in the Viet Nam War to become running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and earn three Super Bowl rings. Under Clark, the Xavier varsity basketball team won three Wisconsin Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association State Championships.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UCF (Independent) (1969–1975)
1969–1970 Torchy Clark 11–3
1970–1971 Torchy Clark 17–9
1971–1972 Torchy Clark 20–6
1972–1973 Torchy Clark 19–7
1973–1974 Torchy Clark 16–8
1974–1975 Torchy Clark 14–10
UCF (Sunshine State Conference) (1975–1983)
1975–1976 Torchy Clark 20–5 10–0 1 NCAA Southeast Regional
1976–1977 Torchy Clark 24–4 8–2 1 NCAA Southeast Regional
1977–1978 Torchy Clark 26–4 10–0 1 NCAA Final Four
1978–1979 Torchy Clark 19–7 7–3 2
1979–1980 Torchy Clark 25–4 8–2 2 NCAA South Regional
1980–1981 Torchy Clark 23–5 9–1 1 NCAA South Regional
1981–1982 Torchy Clark 21–8 9–3 1 NCAA South/ Central Regional
1982–1983 Torchy Clark 19–9 10–2 2
UCF: 274–89 71–13
Total: 274–89

      National champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2010-11 UCF men's basketball media guide
  2. ^ a b "2007–2008 UCF Knights Men's Basketball History". UCF Athletics Association. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  3. ^ In December 1978, Florida Technological University was renamed the University of Central Florida.
  4. ^ "UCF Mourns the Passing of Coach Torchy Clark". University of Central Florida. 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  5. ^ a b "He's A Tough Gun Of A Son". Sports Illustrated. 1979-12-17. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  6. ^ "There'll Never Be Another Torchy Clark". Rivals. 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2013-01-07.