Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, U.S. Air Force Academy Superintendent, is set to take on the role of executive director at the College Football Playoff after his retirement from military service in 2024, as announced in a recent release. This news comes as a significant shift for one of America’s five military academies as the Pentagon endeavors to groom the next generation of officers for a new era of warfare.
Though it remains uncertain when Clark will step down from his position at the academy or who President Joe Biden may nominate as his successor, the three-star general expressed his honor at taking the helm of the annual invitational postseason tournament. In a statement made on November 10, Clark shared his enthusiasm for leading the event, especially as it expands from four to 12 teams.
The selection committee, consisting of 13 members, ranks the best teams in NCAA Division I football and sets them up to compete in a series of semifinal games, including the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Rose Bowl, before declaring a national champion.
Clark, an Air Force Academy graduate and former Falcons football player, has a long-standing relationship with college football. In the past, he also served as commandant of cadets and superintendent at the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based institution, which annually hosts around 4,000 cadets pursuing degrees and military careers.
As the first Black airman to lead the academy, Clark dealt with significant challenges, including leading students through the first full semester following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and addressing incidents of academic dishonesty.
Moreover, Clark, with over 4,200 hours in the cockpit, including 400 in combat, has an impressive background as a decorated bomber pilot and has held various command and policymaking positions within the Air Force. His experience and leadership skills make him a natural fit for guiding the College Football Playoff into a new era.
With this new role, Lt. Gen. Richard Clark will embark on an exciting new chapter after his years of dedication and service to the U.S. Air Force Academy. This transition marks an important moment in both his career and the landscape of college football. As the countdown begins to his retirement and subsequent move to the College Football Playoff, all eyes will be on Clark and the impact he will undoubtedly have on the esteemed annual event.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times and joined the publication as a senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has been featured in various publications, including the Washington Post, Air and Space Forces Magazine, and Inside Defense.
Alex Martin is your guide to the global phenomenon of football. With a focus on international leagues and tournaments, he provides match commentary, player interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories from the world of football.