By Dave Hughes, DCRTV.com
After a few ordinary responses to rather tame questions, Friedgen, a Maryland alumnus, got a bit heated, making it clear the hard feelings from the way his tenure as the Terps' coach ended had not subsided.
Then, Clark asked Friedgen whether he still watched Maryland football.
"I could care less about Maryland," Friedgen told Clark. "I've burned my diploma. I'm flying a Georgia Tech flag right now."
Friedgen was once an offensive coordinator at the Atlanta school.
Clark told Friedgen: "That's hurtful. I don't want to hear that, coach. I'm a Maryland alum."
Friedgen replied: "Well, they talk about Maryland pride. They didn't show me a whole lot of Maryland pride, either getting the job or getting fired."
Boom! Clark's exclusive interview went viral on the Internet, with links from ESPN, CBS Sports, USA Today and beyond.
"I knew it would be big news, but I didn't know it would be that big," Clark told PressBox. "It was dramatic -- over the top."
Clark said he intended to talk to Friedgen about other topics, but the interview quickly changed course.
"Ralph is often unwilling to do media stuff since he was fired," Clark said.
Friedgen went 74-50 during 10 seasons at Maryland. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2010 after the Terrapins rebounded from a 2-10 season in 2009 to post a 9-4 record. He was bought out after the 2010 regular season and the university subsequently hired former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.
Clark told The Baltimore Sun that Friedgen's emotional comments were actually more evidence of how much he loved the school.
"The Maryland job was really the only job he ever wanted as a coach," Clark told The Sun, "and it clearly hurt him that he was let go the way he was. I think it would have been acceptable for him to say anything along those lines, but it was hurtful to all Maryland supporters to suggest he had 'burned his diploma,' even if no one truly believes he has. ...
"I was caught off guard by coach Friedgen's response to my question. I expected him to remind me of how much he loved the kids he had recruited to College Park, but I didn't expect him to take such shots at the university. I had no intention to lead him into anything along those lines, but instead just to discuss the surreal nature of watching a team that he has such intimate involvement with play football. I am in no way surprised by the national response to the interview."
Clark told PressBox that, immediately after the interview, he tweeted Friedgen's comments and posted the dialogue on wnst.net, but the media hype really caught fire after Patrick Steven put them on his Washington Times sports blog at washingtontimes.com.
"It then got picked up by a lot of places," Clark said. "It had a life of its own. It was a really wild 48 hours. I've done interviews all over the country."
A Baltimore-area native, Clark went to Perry Hall High School and then attended a batch of area colleges, including Essex Community College, UMBC and the University of Maryland in College Park.
He never graduated, because of a 2005 job offer from CBS Radio in Baltimore, which had just acquired the radio rights to University of Maryland sports.
At just 22, Clark, who had been handling media relations for Maryland, was working for sports talker 1300-AM, then WJFK-AM, and talker 105.7, then WHFS.
He did many jobs at the radio stations, including production, sports news updates, and hosting with the likes of Ed Norris, Anita Marks, Bill Rohland and Chad Dukes.
"I thought I knew more than I knew," he said of his impression among station staff as a young know-it-all.
After befriending Dukes, Clark followed him to a radio gig in Phoenix at an FM talker, where he did production work and hosted a football show on Saturdays.
After Dukes' Phoenix gig ended with his move to then "guy talker" WJFK-FM in Washington, D.C., Clark stayed in Phoenix and got a midday hosting job at a sports talker.
That's when Nestor Aparicio, who owns WNST, hooked up with Clark at the Super Bowl, which just happened to be in Phoenix that year. Aparicio invited Clark back to Baltimore.
Clark, who knew Aparicio's son in high school, said he had been anxious to head back to his hometown and his friends.
So, in the summer of 2008, Clark returned to Baltimore and a gig at WNST, where he was a producer and sidekick on Drew Forrester's morning show for three years. He was also the station's Ravens beat reporter.
This past summer, Clark got the chance to host his own show, "The Reality Check," from 2-6 p.m. on WNST.
"Filling four hours, yeah, it takes a lot of guests," Clark said.
One thing Clark now knows -- with the right interview and a bit of controversy, the result will be national Internet fame. Not yet 30, Clark has just started in his sports broadcasting career. Stay tuned.
Issue 166: October 2011