CLEMSON, SC -- As if there were a no-wake sign, the boats and Seadoos
slow to a crawl on Lake Hartwell when they pass Tommy Bowden's house.
Not that it's any bigger than the other houses on his block - in fact the
one next door with three stories and an elevator is maybe a thousand square
feet bigger. But it's the one that gets the attention of the sightseers.
The necks crane and the fingers point toward Bowden's house. It sits up a
hill a hundred yards from the lake. What the sightseers don't know, though,
is that sound carries well over water.
"They like to talk about what they don't like about the house," Bowden says
from the deck, from which he can survey what seems like half the lake.
He can handle the criticism of his house. He has no reason to be defensive
about his million-dollar mansion with a separate guest quarters on the other
side of the pool.
Give the boaters a year and a few unexpected losses, though. The talk will
lake of the Bowden house. More Photos
from the Media outing.
Less than eight wins this year and he knows he'll hear a few go by talking
about who's going to live in the house next. Bowden knows exactly what's
expected - at least eight wins against a favorable schedule. He's heard what
people have said about his schedule, too. "Gentle, soft, in your favor -
that's the one I saw today," he said.
With the soft schedule comes expectation. "You're expected to win here," he said. That doesn't keep him from
downplaying the talk of anywhere from eight to twelve wins fueled by
pre-season magazines that have the Tigers in the top-25. "I haven't seen us
ranked in Victoria's Secret," he said.
Then again, he's not acting like a nervous coach, wondering if his team will
show up against the Citadel. In the year and a half he's been on the payroll
at Clemson, attitudes have changed for the better both on and off the field.
He's comfortable the players know what they need to do and that they've been
working hard over the summer.
With two weeks left before practice starts, he's trying to spend as little
time as possible worrying about expectations and more time around his house
that took nearly a year and a half to build. He spends time nearly every
evening on his boat or sitting on his porch waiting for the tree frogs to
start their noise. "They start every night at 9:04," he said.
The complaints will be nearly as predictable if Clemson doesn't finish in
the top 25 at the end of the season.
"That's the next logical step," he said.