Monday, October 13, 2008

Bowden: A nice guy who couldn't win the big one

I can't say I feel terribly sorry for Tommy Bowden, who abruptly parted ways with Clemson in the middle of his 10th season Monday. This ends Bowden's tumultuous, on-again, off-again relationship with the school -- the long-rumored divorce has finally come through.

But this is what you sign up for when you coach Clemson. The Tigers' rabid fan base believes it should be at the level of an SEC powerhouse like Georgia or LSU or Alabama -- a Top 10 or 20 team every year, with a national championship thrown in about every decade. And the Tigers are willing to pay their football coaches extremely well for putting up with all this. There are good and bad sides to rabid fan bases -- they fill stadiums and they pay you millions, but they expect big trophies in return.

Bowden's nine previous teams never won an ACC championship at Clemson, and this 3-3 version wasn't going to do that, either. Bowden had saved his job several times late in the season -- usually by beating South Carolina -- but this time he won't get that chance. It's apparent that Clemson's program isn't at the level of, say, Wake Forest, which has got to rankle all those who bleed orange.

The main reason I don't feel real sorry for Bowden is that Clemson now owes him millions, apparently, due to his buyout clause. Bowden signed a contract extension at Clemson, remember, in December 2007 after nearly taking the Arkansas head-coaching job. In this down economy, a ton of people are losing jobs without the benefit of anything near that sort of golden parachute.

Bowden will coach again if he wants to. Or he could go into TV work like his brother Terry -- he's got the quick wit and the looks for that.

And who will Clemson hire? Dabo Swinney, the very low-profile interim coach, will have to have a spectacular end of the season to get the job permanently. I would have said East Carolina's Skip Holtz a few weeks ago, but the bloom has fallen off that rose. Who knows, really? The Tigers may just end up pulling off what UNC did with Butch Davis. By having an early and high-profile coaching vacancy, they could beat the Christmas rush and grab somebody very good.

Whoever it is, he will be paid extremely well. And he better win.


John said...

Bodwen was a good recruiting coach and a nice guy but his football instincts on game day were poor. Against Wake Forest in the 3rd quarter he called for a fake punt on 4th and 3. Wake lined up in "punt safe" and Bodwen still went for it. Bodwn just couldn't get the job done and needed to be let go.

The major problem is the anemic offense whose play calling seems to come from a high school kid playing Xbox. Clemson fails to run the ball down hill powerfully and instead chooses the "cute" bubble screen. Clemson has two VERY talented running backs in Davis and Spiller but chose to abandon the run game in favor of throwing the ball to an average receiving corps.

Youth on the team has always been a problem with Bodwen. Bodwen does a poor job in grooming young talent and preparing them for D1 division play. The offensive line is the prime example. They can't run or pass block which leaves Harper distressed on most of his pass plays. The young linebackers are the other example. They over pursue almost every play and most teams have taken advantage of the soft zone successfully.

Ultimately success in college comes from coaching. Play calling is the most important issue in college football and Clemson does one of the worst jobs in the ACC. Instead of downhill power runs to set up the pass they chose to run trick plays once a series and try to "dink and dunk" the ball down the field. There is NO vertical pass game. Whoever the new coach is will have plenty of talent to work with and hopefully can bring Clemson an ACC title.

Anonymous said...

Clemson administration has to be the largest collection of idiots south of Washington DC. To give Bowden an extension and then fire him six games later is moronic, as is letting a benched qb's daddy dictate the firing. What is the over/under in coaches at Clemson being fired before Harper realizes that the main problem is his son sucks?