Phillips: Bowden Stepped Aside for Good of the Program

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON -- The much-anticipated and highly-desired, at least in the hearts and minds of many Clemson fans, divorce of head football coach Tommy Bowden and Clemson University achieved fruition today as Bowden stepped down after a meeting with Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips this morning.

Phillips and Bowden had two meetings this morning and the decision was made shortly thereafter.

The embattled coach, who is in year ten of his time at the university, has come under heavy criticism after his Tigers, ranked No. 9 in the nation in the preseason and the favorite of many to win the ACC, have stumbled out of the gates to a 3-3 record, including two straight conference losses that have most likely eliminated Clemson from any ACC title contention.

He will be replaced in the interim by wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney, who was told by Phillips that he can consider the rest of this season an audition for the head job after the 2008 season.

"Terry Don Phillips approached me this morning and we agreed that this is the best solution for the direction of the program," Bowden said. "Clemson has been very good to me and my family. Both of our children are Clemson graduates.

I appreciate the opportunity Clemson University gave me and the support of the administration while I was here. I also want to thank all the players and coaches who worked so hard for this program the last 10 years. I wish Clemson University nothing but the best, and I will be their biggest fan on Saturday."

Phillips said that he came in early on Monday, and met with Bowden in Bowden's office, and after a lengthy discussion, it was determined that it would be best for both parties to part ways now rather than wait until the end of the season.

"I hold Coach Bowden in great respect," Phillips said at a university press conference late Monday afternoon. "He has done many things for our program and had good successes. We can still achieve our goals this season. We can still win the conference. We can still reach the Orange Bowl. I know that our backs are against the wall.

"Coach Bowden knows the issues surrounding our program, and he said there comes a time when the time is probably right to put that on the table, and he made the offer to step aside for the good of the program and I accepted that offer."

Bowden coached Clemson for 10 seasons (including 2008) and posted a 72-45 record for his 117 games. He never had a losing season and including his two years at Tulane when he posted an 18-4 record, Bowden has a career record of 90-49, a 65.2 winning percentage.

He leaves Clemson third in school history in wins with 72, games coached with 117, and wins over top-25 teams with 13. Four of his nine previous teams finished the year ranked in the top 25 of both polls. His highest-ranked team was the 2000 edition that finished with a 9-3 record and a #14 ranking by USA Today and #16 by Associated Press. That team began the year with an 8-0 record and reached a #4 national ranking by USA Today.

The 37-year old Swinney is in his sixth season at Clemson as wide receivers coach, his second as assistant head coach, and his first move as head coach was reportedly to fire offensive coordinator Rob Spence.

The 1993 Alabama graduate served as an assistant coach at Alabama from 1993-2000, was a graduate assistant with the Crimson Tide from 1993-95, the wide receivers and tight ends coach at Alabama in 1996, the tight ends coach in 1997 and the wide receivers coach from 1998-00.

During his time as a coach and player at Alabama, Swinney was a part of six teams with at least 10 wins, five top 10 finishes, one national championship, three SEC titles and five SEC Western Division titles.

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