Bowden opens up about Tigers

FLORENCE, Ala. --- Tommy Bowden was working in his office at about dawn when the expected visit from Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips came.

The meeting last Oct. 13 ended with Bowden agreeing to step down six games into his 10th season with the Tigers, but he now says leaving wasn't his choice.

"I just signed a seven-year contract and never quit or resigned in my life," he said. "I went to work that morning fully anticipating coaching that day and that night. (Phillips) came to my office. It was a little after 6, and then the discussions started."

Bowden, who was replaced by then-assistant head coach Dabo Swinney, declined to go into specifics about the conversation. After previously saying little about his departure, he did discuss the situation with reporters Tuesday during a fundraising event for the athletics program at North Alabama, where brothers Terry and Jeff are coaching.

Asked whether he could have finished out the season after the talk with Phillips, Bowden said: "I'm sure if we had talked longer, I probably could have done it. But at that point in time, Dabo was obviously in their thought process."

Phillips said Wednesday he didn't have any more to say about Bowden or his characterization of what happened.

The Tigers fell from a No. 9 preseason ranking to a 3-3 start that included an opening loss to a then-unranked Alabama team that Bowden feels started the road to his dismissal. Punchless losses to Maryland and Wake Forest followed three wins in a row.

"I had been a head coach 12 years; I've always turned it around," said Bowden, who was 72-45 at Clemson.

"I knew they were going to be mad. I wasn't naive. I knew the Indians were restless, but they'd been restless before. I'd been on the hot seat before. We'd get this thing turned around."

Bowden's father, Florida State coach Bobby, figures his son will be "bored to death" after some time at the beach and get back into coaching.

Bobby said he wasn't surprised that the Clemson tenure ended badly.

"They were glad to see him get away. That's the way it looked to me," he said. "And Tommy was probably fed up with it. It didn't surprise me a whole lot because I just felt like they never accepted Tommy."

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