Oct 15

Tommy Bowden's Legacy at Clemson

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It is a half of a season too early to completely tell Tommy Bowden's legacy as Clemson Head Football Coach. In this critical season, where the Tigers were favorites to go BCSing out of the "down" ACC, they were humbled before the season ever got rolling, getting trounced by Alabama in the Georgia Dome, 34-10.
But still, if Interim Head-Coach (and Tide alum) Dabo Swinney wins a large potion of the Tigers' remaining games, you have to know Tiger fans will give some credit to Bowden (even if only in their minds) for yet another season without a losing record. But the very fact that Bowden, in his tenth season, was six games in with three losses, will always be remembered as dissapointing.
When he arrived in 1998, he inherited a team that was 3-8, players that were mid-level in talent, and facilites that were aging quickly.When he departed two days ago and close to ten years later, the facilities and the players were much improved over where they were back then. The only problem is the win total wasn't looking a whole lot better. Clemson had notched some key wins in his tenure, but never a big season, and that is what may define the Tommy Bowden era. His time in TigerTown will remain a mystery to Tiger fans for some time, and that is why it is just a tad too early to put the measuring stick on him.
New Coach Dabo Swinney was personally endorsed by Bowden to AD Terry Don Phillips, and if he can right the ship and have CU play in (and perform in) a big-time bowl, Bowden would have to deserve some of the credit. Bowden has improved many aspects of the Clemson program, there is no arguing that, now it will be interesting to see if Swinney's young energy (he is 37 and recruited a good many of the players) can spark this Tiger team.
To get personal for a second, I want to say I am a Tommy Bowden fan. I know he can be described as arrogant, or stubborn, or whatever. But as a junior at Clemson in 1999, I was proud when he was named our Head Coach - and I still am.
I was living with my two best friends at the time, and Tiger Football was LIFE. Period. So through those young, crazy college years, Tommy Bowden was our man. We followed him on road trips, and we cheered him in the Valley. He kept our players out of the news when they were off of the field, and he won some games CU hadn't won in some time on the field. So even though I couldn't be more happy with the recent unfoldings, I will always cherish the memories Bowden allowed us.
When Aaron Hunt kicked the game-winner over the Cocks in 2000, we had a huge after-party at our apartment at CC2, and somehow the goal-post from the game ended up there. We partied late into the evening celebrating the win, when someone (around sun-up) got the bright idea to lay the goal post outside of dcomitch's bed-room, hoping he'd stumble out blurry-eyed in the morning and face-plant...sure enough, it happened!....I will never forget the following Sunday morning when he emerged from his room (around 1 pm) only to trip on the goal post - which had been carefully placed just inches outside of his room - and fall flat on his face with a living-room full of onlookers!!!
All I can hope is that Dabo allows current CU students many more of the same...
The worst with Bowden: Two things. 1st. The stat that bugs me the most about Bowden is his 7 losses to unranked teams in Death Valley while his team was ranked in the top 25. That to me is unacceptable. That basically means that once a year, he would be ranked, at home, with a chance to move up the polls, but instead was upset by an unranked team...NEARLY EVERY YEAR!!! 2nd. The second thing about the Bowden era that was upsetting is the performance in big games, punctuated by this season's Alabama Game. The UGA at home in 2003, the Texas Tech bowl game, the many VT games, the Georgia Dome losses in bowls, the Wake Forest loss in 2003, the blah, blah, blah..
The Best with Bowden: Two things again. 1st. The stat that I will always remember him by is his 7-2 record against the Gamecocks.This always ends up being the biggest game of the year because both teams are consistently missing their goals for the season. But, to Bowden's credit, he owned the Cocks, highlighted by the 63-17 thrashing that went down at their place in 2003. Man, that was a whooping. 2nd. He upgraded the overall program. The facilities are better. The players are four and five star caliber for the most part, and they are good guys that stay out of trouble as much as you can hope for. Bowden would make a great athletic director.
I'm sure I have many more thoughts on Coach Bowden, and another article like this one may emerge in a few weeks. But for right now, I am 100 percent focused on what Dabo Swinney can do. I like his energy, and I think he is about to do something special. Clemson is a special place, and a championship will be here again soon.
GT, I hope you are ready, Bowden's players and Swinney's intensity may be a nasty combination.


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