Dan Scott Interview: Tommy Bowden

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Dan Scott's interview with Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden last week after National signing day.

Dan: You said yesterday that this has the chance of being the best
recruiting class since you have gotten here. Congratulations.

Bowden: Thanks Dan. It was one of the largest that we've had from top to bottom
as far as depth and size. All you can really base that on is high school
accomplishments, that does not guarantee success in college. That evaluation
should be made probably three years from now. But it makes for good t.v and
radio talk any way for a while.

Dan: What is signing day like for you and your staff?

Bowden: You sit and wait by a fax, we have a primary fax and a backup fax, and
we stand by it and wait, because it does not become official until it comes in.
This being my twenty-eighth year of coaching, there has been some strange things
happen on signing day. It might not happen every year, but during the course of
a career, especially at this level of competition, you see it all happen. So,
until it comes in you're on the phone with the high school coach, the principal,
the secretary, whoever is supposed to be faxing it, or the mom or the dad. And
when they sign in a cafeteria or high school gym, there’s a cake and a party and
they are standing around talking and they don't get the fax over or the
secretary lets it sit, so you are on the phone and sitting by the fax.

Dan: Is there any more tenuous job in the world where you are sitting by the
fax machine knowing that your job security is in the hands of a bunch of
eighteen year olds?

Bowden: It is unique from that perspective. The Olympic sports depend on the
same thing. They are not as high profile right now. It is unusual because you
are sitting there waiting. We were both seventeen at one point in time. You got
your girlfriend and her parents over there, and the girl you're trying to date
and you just signed and you're trying to get her attention. You know getting
your fax over is just not the most important thing in your life at seventeen. Of
course at fifty it's pretty important. It is a unique profession.

Dan: What can you tell us about Antonio Clay?

Bowden: He had been up here a couple of times, but I talked to my father earlier
that morning and they had him. They were in it a lot stronger, I know us and
Oklahoma have been getting the ink, but they were in it through Wednesday
morning also. A young man like that, he had been over here and had liked us
early. He has family from up in this area and so there was comfort zone with
distance and familiarity with our university and I think that was the deciding
factor. I think distance with Oklahoma and playing time earlier here than
probably Florida State.

Dan: When you are chosen over Oklahoma or Florida State, do you use that as a

Bowden: Yeah, but by this time next year so many things are going to happen,
that's not going to be a factor. But when it happens during the recruiting
process, guys like James Davis, Rendrick Taylor or Josh Miller from instate,
that could have had an opportunity like Antonio late, I think when they turn it
down earlier in the process I think its more of a factor on a James Davis or
Antonio Clay or some of the other guys that committed later. As far as next year
I don't think it will be that big of a factor because there will be so much
water under the dam by then.

Dan: The coaches look at class balance a lot, with twelve offensive players
and twelve defensive players and one that can play either side, that looks like
a pretty good balance.

Bowden: We don't really try to split them up between offensive and defensive, we
do a generic numbering system, if you eighty-five scholarships and you put a
kicker, snapper and a punter, that's three. Then you give forty-two scholarships
to offensive and forty-three to defensive, seventeen lineman, five quarterbacks,
seven backs, twelve wideouts, four to five tight ends and those equal forty-two
then you more or less go by those numbers and if you look at sixteen lineman on
your roster, and you graduate the four then you are looking for four. Sometimes
those numbers might deviate, where it might be sixteen on defense and six on
offense or vice versa or sometimes it might balance out twelve for twelve, its
based more so on who you lost, needs and the best players available.

Dan: How did the West Zone Project factor in this year?

Bowden: I think it’s a big factor. It's an issue that has been addressed by all
of our competition. You know, two years ago nobody had heard Louisville,
California, Utah or Boise State. When I first took the job we got on a plane to
visit Louisville, because we played them and I like some of the things they were
doing with John L. Smith, the head coach. They had just completed a multimillion
dollar west zone project, and you look at their program and what it has done the
last few years. I think with the things our athletic director has done just over
the last eight months to spruce it up until we get into the west zone, I think
the effects are pretty obvious for what it has done for recruiting. I think once
we get that completed and walls start going up I think Clemson will have the
potential to take off and reach the expectations that we all wanted to achieve.

Dan: Some of the things that are already done show progress that we are
leading into the west zone.

Bowden: Yeah, those things send a message that we are committed. The verbal
comments the administrators make whether it be academic or athletic, our coaches
what our ambitions are. You know, young guys now days get on the internet and
want to see tangible evidence before they come on your campus. It’s not just
verbiage. Verbiage only gets you so far, but when they leave your campus and
visit another campus and they see first hand the commitment. They are not nieve.
That's going to make an awful big improvement here once this thing gets under
way and is completed.

Dan: You had said in the past that you had changed philosophy about
recruiting your offensive line. Is that coming into play now?

Bowden: Obviously everybody wants a big guy who is lean and athletic. By lean I
mean, if you go 6' 7" 310 or 305 that's lean compared to Barry Richardson who is
6' 6" and 370lbs. Everybody is looking for those guys.

Dan: What's next between now and spring practice?

Bowden: I'll fly up to Columbia tonight for the big rep meeting they have every
year at this time. Then I'll fly up to Mississippi for a high school clinic and
Saturday for a speaking engagement. Then at 1:30 for the state high school
coaches clinic. Then Monday, our coaches have to go to the clinic this weekend,
we have eight to five meetings for both sides of the ball with the coordinators
implementing the new system and getting everybody on the same page. And that
will go five days a week eight to five until spring ball starts. So we've got a
lot of work ahead of us. I wish we could give these guys a break before spring
ball starts up but we really don't have time. The coaches have worked really
hard and have done a good job but now its time to go x's and o's from that

Dan: How much of a role did the two new coordinators play in recruiting?

Bowden: I know Rob made a few trips down to see James Davis, as far as
presenting the running game package to him. And Vic got involved with some of
our defensive players. We got them on the road some the last week or two. They
were here with some of the guys where we had contact and visits still available.

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