Originally created 11/25/03

Clemson, Bowden talking long-term deal



Clemson and its football coach Tommy Bowden are talking long term. But for now, athletic director Terry Don Phillips, says the two have more to discuss.

The questions about Bowden's future in Tigertown stretched into another day without an ironclad deal. Phillips said in a statement late Monday that he met with Bowden the past two days about a contract extension.

"Our desire is to retain coach Bowden for the long term," Phillips said. "Towards that end, we have entered into negotiations to extend his contract. We hope to complete this process as soon as possible."

Bowden has four years remaining on an agreement that pays him at least $1.1 million a year. Several reports have Bowden and Phillips discussing a hefty raise and adding as many as four years on the deal.

A few weeks ago Bowden was as good as gone.

The Tigers fell 45-17 at Wake Forest on Nov. 1. They were 5-4 for the third straight season. Clemson fans at that game chanted for Bowden's dismissal as the team left the field.

Somehow, Bowden got the Tigers to rebound with three unlikely victories - his first win over father Bobby in the Bowden Bowl as Clemson defeated then-No. 3 Florida State, 26-10; a solid 40-7 victory over a rejuvenated Duke; and a 63-17 demolition of South Carolina in front of a stadium of Gamecock fans in Columbia.

The Tigers finished 8-4 after two straight seven-win seasons. They went 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and can finish no worse than third in the league.

Phillips said he was proud of Bowden, his assistants and the players. "They showed great resiliency and great character over the course of the season," Phillips said. "We have made considerable progress in all areas of the program, including on the field and in the classroom."

But that was not so crystal clear last week.

When Bowden met with reporters Nov. 18 to discuss the South Carolina match, he showed that perhaps the pressure of his uncertain status had gotten to him. He took several seconds to respond to a question about his future, his lip quivered and his eyes were moist.

It was a rare display of emotion from a very button-down coach.

After Clemson's win over South Carolina, Bowden heard the cries of "Tommy Bowden, Tommy Bowden," from the fans. He was carried from the sidelines to midfield by defenders DeJuan Polk and Khaleed Vaughn.

Bowden wouldn't tackle questions about his job in the postgame celebration, preferring to wait until he heard from university president James Barker.

Bowden did acknowledge the past few weeks were "very taxing" on him and his family.

Phillips said last week that people shouldn't have looked at his not commenting before in a negative light. And he doesn't want people thinking that because nothing's wrapped up yet that Clemson wants Bowden to go elsewhere.

"This football program is on solid ground," Phillips said.

Bowden has scheduled his regular Tuesday gathering with reporters.

Athletic spokesman Tim Bourret would not say if Bowden and administrators would reach agreement before the coach spoke to the media.

Bowden plans a beach getaway with his family over Thanksgiving.

Clemson awaits a postseason bid, possibly to the Peach, Tangerine or Continental Tire bowls.

Phillips said the school looks forward to playing again over the holidays. "But the outlook for this program under Tommy Bowden's leadership is bright for years to come," he said.