Bowden Takes Two Roles

by - Correspondent -
Bowden let players go home to their families for the weekend.

CLEMSON - As events of Tuesday's national tragedy began to unfold, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden found himself split into two different personalities.

Bowden the football coach had to provide leadership and focus to the Tigers during a traumatic week, one which began with preparing for Duke and ended with Virginia as the primary objective. In between, the team continued to practice, meet and attend class through much speculation and uncertainty, many of them hundreds of miles from their loved ones.

There's also Bowden the father, the man who is adamant about his love for his family and his Christian beliefs, and somehow finds time to juggle both with his passion for coaching.

But Tuesday, like most of the country, football took a back seat to the tremendous loss of life at the hands of terrorists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

If only for a moment.

"Immediately you gravitate toward family, and I'm fortunate my family's wife and two kids," Bowden said Friday. "And that's what I thought about these players. A lot of parents would like to see their sons, and that's one of the first things I thought about because it was important for me to at least see and touch (my family). Especially with the uncertainty of Tuesday night.

"So I think first you gravitate towards family, and then the loss of live. The older you get, if you have children, you start to appreciate life a little more."

Clemson's 5:30 a.m workout was designed specifically to allow the team to go home for the weekend following the day's class schedule. Players aren't due back on campus until 4 p.m. Sunday for a team meeting.

The decision should do much to calm frayed parental nerves. Some parents haven't see their sons in weeks, and Tuesday's terrorist attacks only served to heighten the anticipation.

It also cast Bowden and his staff in the role of surrogate parents for much of the week.

"You have to address (the team) understanding they're not able to see their parents," Bowden said. "That's a concern and not something you can brush over, because (the coaching staff's) all going home to ours. You have to take on a little bit of a different role, and you try to address it with them mentally, too, to give them some of what they're missing from their parents.

"That's why I wanted to let these guys get home, to let their parents set eyes on them for the first time."


- Making the best of a bad situation, Bowden was able to find something positive in the postponement of today's scheduled game with Duke at Death Valley.

"Eighteen of our top 22 on defense are underclassmen," he said. "There are a lot of true freshmen, redshirt freshmen...young guys who haven't played and need work. So that's a positive, as far as more practice time for alignment and assignment..."

Bowden said the team also spent a good deal of time brushing up on fundamentals in the past few days.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger and the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9.

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