CLEMSON -- Clemson Athletic Director Dr. Terry Don Phillips was a recent guest on Cruise Control with Dan Scott radio show to discuss Oliver Purnell, scheduling Division I-AA teams, playing football games on Thanksgiving weekend, and much more. Cruise Control can be heard 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9 in Upstate SC or on the net at www.wccpfm.com.
Terry Don Phillips, Windows Media, (13:20)
Dan: The news out of Cincinnati is that Oliver Purnell is on the wish list to be the new basketball coach for the University of Cincinnati.
Phillips: Oliver is an outstanding coach, and we recognize the job he does for us and we are very proud of the job he does for us, and he did a wonderful job in Dayton. He's an ACC guy and he and Vicky enjoy Clemson. He is an asset to our program and our community. When you have good people those things will pop up periodically.
Dan: So you don't anticipate anything coming from it?
Phillips: I think Oliver and I are on the same page as far as where we want to take this program. The real problem is when nobody wants your coaches. You would rather deal with the issue of there being significant interest in your personnel. If you are going to have problems, you want the one where people do have an interest in your staff.
Dan: Did Dr. Barker share his letter, regarding to playing more instate 1-AA programs and did you have a response to it?
Phillips: The last couple of weeks on the website I have had a column dealing with our philosophy and our plan on what we are going to do on the twelfth game. That same column is in the Orange and White and is clear that we intend to play one AA team in our state over a six year period, at least two over that period. If people look at the Orange and White or the website they will get an explanation of our philosophy and what our plan is, that certainly includes our 1-AA universities in South Carolina.
Dan: For those who have not had the chance to read it, can you give us a quick thumbnail of that philosophy?
Phillips: Eventually we want to get to a configuration where two and two in your non-conference, that is where you have two programs in your non-conference configuration and those games are going to be very challenging. South Carolina is one of those programs. The other two should be teams that give you the opportunity to develop depth and gives the opportunity to play kids and if you don't beat yourself you are going to win those games. It’s pretty mainstream with what a lot of programs will do now and within that other two configuration what we want to do is begin to fit our 1-AA universities within there. But, the bottom line is this, we have to have seven home games, and that is the number one priority because we have made major commitments to these facilities and expenses continue to grow. We don't like expenses to edge upwards but they do, so the seventh home game is very critical to us.
Secondly, we do need to maintain perspective on playing division 1-A programs. When we do that we want to find teams that we can buy in, and we did that with Florida Atlantic, the guarantee is about $500,000.00, I think South Carolina paid $600,000 in their contract, but division 1-AA is going to run about $250,000.00 for the guarantee. It makes sense to play division 1-AA teams, and certainly if you are going to play them we don't have to look further that the state of South Carolina. We have some wonderful programs in the state, so you don't need to go beyond that. Then, you want to schedule another team for the BCS conference in addition to South Carolina and that would give us our two for two. So philosophically, we are going to play seven home games every year. We are going to work toward having two challenging games from BCS Conferences and two teams that will help of football team develop and we have to be very mindful of the guarantees that we do pay. Division 1-A teams do command more money and right now one of the issues we have is that it’s not easy getting the schedule that you want.
I know Dwight has really worked hard. He has made over 30 contacts with BCS programs. The first contact we had was Georgia, but they had already entered into a contract with Colorado. We look to have Georgia somewhere in the future. People want that and we would like to have it as well. It’s going to take time to get to that two and two. There are some issues out there like the Big Ten and the Mid-American conference entered into a working agreement where the Mid-American schools are going to schedule Big Ten. So what that did is take Mid-American schools out of the mix and several of the Big Ten out that we would have liked to play. We do agree in playing division 1-AA teams as being part of the mix, but we definitely have to have seven home games a year. And the problem there is that every school like Clemson wants that seventh game. Sometimes it’s hard to put together because we all have our own agendas, goals and plans and sometimes my agenda doesn't match up with someone else’s, particularly if their plan is the same as ours and have to have that seventh game, which if you look at most of your SEC schools and ACC schools you see that most of them are going to play that seventh game.
Dan: Does attendance come into play at all?
Phillips: You have to do your projections on what your revenue from the gates and concessions. We base our future projections on historical analysis, so certainly it comes into play but when you put in your revenue against your expenses, sometimes the expenses out weigh the revenue, so you make money by not spending money.
Dan: How does the mandate of Thanksgiving weekend affect Clemson/Carolina game?
Phillips: I started talking to Eric Hyman (USC AD) before he came over from TCU about that issue and the ACC has mandated that we play Thanksgiving weekend for several reasons. First off, it has to do with student athletes’ welfare. They want to ensure that there is an open weekend during the season and not twelve straight weeks. Another reason is that we have a Thursday night game contract that the ACC wants to keep an open date during the season, so that someone's going to play on Thursday night, that way they don’t have a short week where they play on Saturday and come back and play on Thursday. And the other has to do with the championship game. That if everyone is playing on Thanksgiving weekend prior to the Championship game it’s not giving a team the additional advantage of preparing for the championship game. So Thanksgiving weekend is a given, the question is and where the heartburn is for Clemson is that a lot of our people use that to extend Thanksgiving through the weekend. Our students don't come back until Sunday. So there are some long term feelings about Thanksgiving. It goes all the way back to the big Thursday in history. Eric and I discussed it and hopefully within reasonable time we'll come to a resolution.