Commentary: Bowden, Phillips Focus On Future Of Program


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A pair of impromptu press gatherings took place at Clemson Monday afternoon.

Head football coach Tommy Bowden and his boss, athletic director Terry Don Phillips, met separately with the media at the school's athletic offices, meetings announced on the fly via phone calls from sports information director Tim Bourret barely an hour before they were to take place.

Both men, it seemed, had one thing on their collective minds:

Get the 2006 football season as quickly into the past as possible, and start focusing on 2007.

Phillips opened his dialogue with an apology. He had ignored repeated phone calls and interview requests for the past week, he said, to allow "the waters to settle and to collect my thoughts" after Clemson's 28-20 Music City Bowl loss to Kentucky. The defeat made it four losses in five games to close out 2006.

The Clemson AD then proceeded to again throw his public support behind Bowden and the football program, pointing out that despite the slow finish the team "was in a position to challenge for a league championship" for the second straight season.

Many of the programs that have reached the top, he said, have hung around a rung or two down the ladder for a few years before finally making it.

Phillips added that he had already met with Bowden once, and will meet with him again following national signing day next month. But, Phillips said, he has every confidence Bowden and his staff will get the problems ironed out and find a way to propel this program to the next level.

"Tommy works extremely hard," said Phillips. "You'd have to get here awfully early in the morning to beat him in, and you'd have to stay very late at night to outlast him."

Bowden, for his part, identified three areas "off the top of my head" which need immediate attention:

Red Zone efficiency, kickoff coverage and pass defense.

"As the head coach it starts with me. I have to look at the problems and say,'Okay, how are you going to fix them?'," he said. "Last year it was the punt protection. We had five kicks blocked. So I have to look in the mirror and say 'How can I get this fixed?'

"So those are three areas - one offense, one defense and one special teams - I know we'll be focusing on."

Bowden said there will be more specific conclusions drawn when the total evaluation of the program is done as it is each year following signing day. The next four weeks, he said, are spent exclusively recruiting.

After that, Bowden said, he'll go through the season with his staff - play by play, game by game - and try to find out what went wrong down the stretch this season.

If they can't, and the team struggles again in 2007, Bowden joked that "Things could be very interesting around here this time next year."

Told of Bowden's comment, Phillips wouldn't address it. He also wouldn't speculate on whether or not Bowden's contract would be extended after next season.

The coach has four years remaining on his current deal.

Phillips did acknowledge, however, that part of his job as athletic director is balancing the overall state of the program with the monetary issues the school is facing. He was happy to report that funding for Phase Two of the West End Zone project is moving along at a good pace, and he believed the construction timetable would allow everything to be in place by the 2008 season.

He also denied rumors that big money donors had approached him with funds they wanted to contribute toward buying out Bowden's contract.

"And if they did, I wouldn't take it," Phillips said.

But Phillips also let it be known, for the first time, that the school has a contingency fund in place to see the athletic department through any unforseen hard times. That fund includes enough money to buy out the contract of any coach on Clemson's campus.

Including Bowden's.

So what do we make of Monday's events?

Well, without it being said specifically, both Bowden and Phillips seemed to be of common understanding about the importance of 2007.

With Bowden having to rebuild his offensive line, find a new quarterback and keep two high-maintenance, high-profile running backs happy (the coach denied rumors that either James Davis or C.J. Spiller had come to him since the bowl game asking out of his scholarship for purposes of transferring, by the way), finding a way to "challenge for a league championship" again may be Bowden's most difficult task yet.

Trouble is, it could also be the year his margin of error is at its slimmest since 2003.

In an era when a major college football coach's life expectancy seems to be growing shorter by the day, Bowden will be entering his ninth season at Clemson in 2007. And after eight seasons, the last four of which have been peppered with "close but not quite" comments, neither he nor Phillips provided much of an answer to the obvious question:

When is getting close no longer enough?

However, tap dances aside, one gets the feeling that both men know the answer.

As Bowden said, this time next year could be very, very interesting.

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Subject (Replies: 47) Author
spacer Commentary: Bowden, Phillips Focus On Future Of Program
B-Meist®
spacer oh wow***
deleted
spacer I feel better after reading this.***
TheHill2
spacer puts to rest a lot, and then brings up more new questions***
TheRawPaw
spacer Sucks for Bowden that he enters a make or break season
Justwannaread
spacer Well, at least he gets another chance....but he did make
T22Bone22
spacer Whose fault is that?***
tigerpride98
spacer no kidding, no one to blame but himself***
Augusta Tiger
spacer himself and parity***
T22Bone22
spacer I can point out 20 programs that aren't affected by "parity"***
BigCat
spacer he can point finger at himself...he recruits and develops***
Graphic Tiger®
spacer Re: Sucks for Bowden that he enters a make or break season
cubobby80
spacer same ol', same ol'***
wagenertiger
spacer Sounds like TDP isn't a fan of CTB's jokes...***
T22Bone22
spacer "Put up or shut up" time has finally arrived...thank God.***
1999Alum
spacer Will you be thanking God if we put up?***
deleted
spacer We all will be....***
T22Bone22
spacer Of course...but after 8 years, it does seem like a prayer.***
1999Alum
spacer Don't you mean 15+ years?***
Justwannaread
spacer No...TB has been given much more than West
1999Alum
spacer In fairness, one could say that TB is just a better salesman
BigCat
spacer Re: "Put up or shut up" time has finally arrived...thank God.***
cubobby80
spacer Re: Maybe we will see a consistent effort similar to the end
Okie Tiger®
spacer True, just wish he didn't NEED pressure to win...would like
TheRawPaw
spacer Re: True, just wish he didn't NEED pressure to win...would like
cubobby80
spacer Re: Commentary: Bowden, Phillips Focus On Future Of Program
Tiger Contractor
spacer You notice we will be address several issues during the
tigerpride98
spacer So the bottom line is
tigergirl
spacer Re: So the bottom line is
Tiger Contractor
spacer Better than 8-5?***
TruTiger
spacer Re: Better than 8-5?***
cubobby80
spacer Re: So the bottom line is
Flintiger
spacer Tommy West vs. Tommy Bowden
Tigersdomination
spacer Nice post - agree 100%***
jtaylor
spacer DITTO******
RU4GOD2®
spacer Re: Tommy West vs. Tommy Bowden
Big Tuna
spacer Great post!!!!!
Biggr316
spacer You threw a lot of examples of TW losses, and
clemchem
spacer Re: True enough, but TB is only 37-27 in ACC and
irtiger
spacer Re: BRAVO
cu81grad
spacer Two things are a little strange here
Toddl
spacer NO need to raise
tigergirl
spacer what a dumb freakin comment
TIGERCOOK®
spacer Maybe the reason for the seperate press conferences is...
CountryBoy
spacer I agree. Hopefully, we won't get a penalty for 10 men on
1Tiger1
spacer Dan also wanted to give Shyatt more time.***
iggyme
spacer Re: clemson SOL for 2007
irtiger
spacer Re: Commentary: Bowden, Phillips Focus On Future Of Program
willymac
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