Commentary:Clemson Paying Up-Now Bowden's Turn


by - Correspondent -
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The huge gust of wind headed for Clemson this week very
will could be Tiger fans breathing a collective sigh of relief.


All indications point to Tommy Bowden signing a new contract with Clemson
University sometime in the next few days, a deal which could put him among
the upper echelon of Division 1-A coaching contracts. If my sources are
correct, the numbers being bandied about are staggering.


Those sources say Clemson's administration has put a contract offer on the
table of — get this — up to eight years at approximately $1.5 million per
season.


If the numbers are correct the new deal would nearly double the worth of
Bowden's current contract, valued at over $800,000 per year.


Such a deal would end any speculation that Bowden is a candidate, serious or
not, for the Alabama coaching job, which will become vacant at the end of
this season. Bowden's name has been mentioned as a leading possibility for
the position — along with Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and Miami's Butch
Davis — since Mike DuBose came under fire for his second consecutive subpar
season at the helm of the Crimson Tide.


DuBose either resigned or was fired Wednesday, depending on whose story you
believe, a move which no doubt turned up the heat on the CU administration to
get Bowden signed to a new deal, post haste.


Clemson's desire to keep Bowden locked up, not to mention happy, is obvious.
His name and wide-open offense have brought instant respect and notoriety to
a program which was floundering in the last days of Tommy West's tenure just
two season's ago.


As a recruiter and motivator, Bowden has the ability to lure top-notch high
school talent to the Clemson program, even before the new state-of-the-art
training facilities are built.


But the whole situation also brings to light a few important questions.


If the deal comes down, as expected, what provisions will be included to keep
Bowden from holding Clemson hostage for more money every time his name is
mentioned for a potential job opening?


Will there be a clause prohibiting Bowden from accepting another job for a
specified length of time? Or would he be subjected to paying off the
remaining value of his contract were he to leave Clemson?


All legitimate questions, and all with wait-and-see answers.


You can't blame Bowden for using Alabama's interest in him to his advantage,
if indeed that is what happened. In the landscape of college football today,
a high-profile coach like Bowden can be worth the gross national product of a
third-world nation if he brings enough positive attention to the school


And goodness knows in nearly two full seasons Bowden has done just that,
re-energizing Clemson's fortunes while, at the same time, establishing the
Tigers as a staple on regional and national television. That alone brings in
enough money annually to more than make up for $1.5 million.


And it appears Bowden's timing couldn't be better. Sources Saturday night sai
d that Alabama was turning most of its attention to Davis, who has taken
Miami from probation to the brink of another shot at the national title in
just five seasons. If so, Clemson could have its man locked up long term, and
Bowden could be walking into a gold mine.


It appears all involved parties could come out a winner.


But short of a possible exception which would allow Bowden to follow his
father at Florida State if he so desired, Clemson can be forgiven for saying,
"Okay, Tommy, we'll pay you this time, but that's it. We expect you to honor
your contract."


Otherwise, Tiger fans could be in for an orange and white soap opera every
few years.

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