Sports Outside the Beltway

Tommy Bowden out as Clemson coach

The son of Florida’s Bobby Bowden, stepped down after 9.5 years at the school.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tommy Bowden decided he’d done all he could do for Clemson football, telling his athletic director Monday he’d step aside for the future of the program.

AD Terry Don Phillips said his intent Monday morning was to have a candid, heart-to-heart with Bowden about the football team. So Phillips was surprised when Bowden offered to walk away in midseason.

“There wasn’t a gun to his head,” Phillips said.

“He put it on the table for the sake of the program,” Phillips said. “I agreed.”


Assistant head coach and receivers coach Dabo Swinney will take over the club. Phillips urged him to act like the team’s head coach and make difficult decisions knowing he had the administration’s full backing.

It’s a far fall for a team some figured to contend for a national title.

The year began with the Tigers ranked No. 9 and picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. But an opening 34-10 rout by Alabama and recent losses to Maryland and Wake Forest raised calls again for Bowden’s ouster despite the contract extension that tied him to the school through 2014.


Clemson went 72-45 (43-32 ACC) and made eight bowl appearances under Bowden, who was honored as ACC coach of the year in 1999 and 2003. But the son of storied football coach Bobby Bowden never brought Clemson fans what they wanted most — a championship.

Bowden will be paid through the end of the season, then get $3.5 million as a buyout negotiated in the contract extension both sides agreed to last December.

Bowden’s tenure at Clemson was hardly a bust. Clemson officials and boosters suffer from delusions of grandeur if they feel this school can become a perennial powerhouse. It won’t. The school got a national championship around 25 years ago. It wouldn’t surprise me if Clemson went another 25 before winning one. Bowden couldn’t change Clemson and neither will his successor.

Will Tommy Bowden be considered for the Florida State job when his father retires, or is it already set that Jimbo Fisher will be the Seminoles’ next head coach?

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