Terry Don Phillips Press Conference Transcript

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Terry Don Phillips: First of all, I know a lot of ya'll in this room were trying to chase me down last week and I made myself scarce for a purpose one, the water's needed to settle, I needed to collect my thoughts and if I offended any of you by being scarce, I apologize, but there's times you need to collect your thoughts and I didn't want someone asking a question and I may say I don't want to comment on that right now and I say that because at this point in time, that kind of comment wouldn't be a good comment, so that's why I elected to not hang around all that much, so I hope you appreciate that and understand that, but by the same token, I understand ya'll have a job to do and ya'll work hard at your job, and you have to write your stories and your opinions, and in order to do that you need us to cooperate with you and we need to cooperate with you and we understand that, so ,again, if I offended any of you I do apologize , but there's a reason, a reason I elected to do it that way.

Questions: So now your thoughts are all collected and ready to go? Laughter

Terry Don Phillips: Well now, I can't say that, but I will make some comments. Laughter

Questions: We're used to being offended anyway so… Laughter.

Terry Don Phillips: I think ya'll know I try to be available for the most part, but I just wanted the waters to settle, and again, I do respect the job you have to do and we have to be cooperative and so the floor is open.

Question: Is your scarcity and indication of how difficult it was to close the season like that?

Terry Don Phillips: Well, my scarcity is just that I wanted the emotion to subside and let the waters settle. It was a tough way to end the season. We had a wonderful opportunity to win the championship and go to the Orange Bowl and we didn't capitalize on that and certainly you're disappointed when you have that opportunity and it doesn't materialize and particularly when you're so very close to getting the job done.

Question: What was the tone of your exam-mail and phone messages after the Kentucky game?

Terry Don Phillips: Well, our people are disappointed, and there's a certain feeling, I'm not saying by everyone, because there have been several messages where people have been very supportive and certainly disappointed but not expressing dissatisfaction, but there are those who certainly do express dissatisfaction so you've got it on both sides.

Questions: Terry Don, are you still satisfied with the way the football program is going?

Terry Don Phillips: To answer that question you have to look at the totality of the program and comparatively, how do I look at it? Well, first of all, we're not in the cellar. We need to understand that. For the last 2 years, we've been a contender for the championship. We haven't won it and therein lies the disappointment, but we've been a very strong contender for the conference championship. We're going to continue being a strong contender in the conference race and when that happens, I feel confident we'll eventually get there, but it didn't happen this year, so that's where the disappointment is.

DAN SCOTT: I asked Tommy this question and he deferred the answer to the administration, so I'll ask you, he's had 8 years now in a profession where the coaches lifespan is not nearly that long and in the last 4 years, especially the last 2, we've been "we're close, we're close, we're close…" when does close not cut it anymore?

Terry Don Phillips: When you have a crystal ball and I don't have a crystal ball. What I've said to all of our coaches across the board is we need to consistently be in the upper tier of this league competitively and I've got to take my hat off to Wake Forest for a tremendous job by Jim and the staff up there, tremendous job at Wake Forest so it sort of cuts across the grain of what I'm saying but I think historically, if you look at those programs that do win championships, they win them on a consistent basis, they get their program to a level and they hang in that level and then ultimately they do win a championship. That's what we try to stress with all of our sports. We want to be consistently in the upper tier, that we're a factor in the championship race each and every year and when you're a factor, and then you have opportunity to win championships.

Questions : Are you still hoping the football program can get to that level or do you feel you're at that level?

Terry Don Phillips: Oh, I think the last 2 years would show you that we're at that level. We're consistently in the championship hunt. We were last year; we had the 2 over time losses against Miami and Boston College. If we win 1 of those games, and again we don't want to get into all the ifs and buts and all that stuff, but the bottom line is this, the last 2 years, we've been 2 points away from being in the championship game and that's awfully close. Again, that's not where we want to be, that's not where the expectations are, we haven't gotten there, but we need to continue to be a strong, strong factor in the championship race and ultimately, we'll get there.

Questions : Do you think you define the upper tier as 4 teams? Because you weren't in the top 4 this year were you?

Terry Don Phillips: We're 5-3, Wake Forest is 6-2, and Georgia Tech is 7-1. If we beat either Maryland or Boston College, we're in the championship game.

Question: You're 4th in your division. Correct?

Terry Don Phillips: Now ya'll look at that a little differently than I do. Wake Forest is 6-2 and you had 3 teams at 5-3. If we were to win 1 of those games, well let's see, you've got the heads up, well, I'll go back, ya'll can say that and look at it one way, and I can look at it another way, bottom line, we're in the hunt for the championship, we were this year and we were the past year. It's not like talking about a team that's in the bottom half of the league.

Question: What's been your policy dating back to Oklahoma State when you start looking at re-upping contracts and renegotiating, is there a time frame when you say there's 4 years or 2 years left, because we've talked about that this year.

Terry Don Phillips: There's not a time frame. It's one of those things where ultimately the light clicks on one way or the other, but again, you go back and look at the total overall health of your program and one of the things that's critically important, particularly when you get a feeling of dissatisfaction, particularly when people are not happy with the performance, then you have to look across at all areas, how are your kids doing academically, are the retention rates good, how are they conducting themselves as citizens, how are they developing as human beings, how the coaches and student athletes represent the program, those components, and when those things are in a very positive mode, such as they are here, then you move on down the road and particularly if your program is in a position to get stronger competitively and ultimately reach your expectations and your goals then certainly that's the way of championship at Clemson.

DAN SCOTT: You take all of that evaluation and then how do you balance it against the other part of your job where there are a lot of the people out there who you are trying to get to give a lot of money to finish the West End project and you've got scholarships with IPTAY donors that you're trying to get more money coming in, if they're expressing their dissatisfaction, what is the old saying, the world doesn't want to hear about the labor pains, they just want to see the baby, so to speak?

Terry Don Phillips: That's a good point, and certainly you listen to your fans and supporters because that's who we rely on to grow our program and we have wonderful support here, and we're very grateful for the support we have and you don't put your head in the sand with regard to that so your people need to be pleased with the program, but as we all know in this business, if you stumble somewhat, there's going to be those that become very dissatisfied and again, you have to balance the multitude, because there are people out there who are very pleased with Coach Bowden's leadership and they see what's happening out there, and certainly there are those that aren't.

DAN SCOTT: Are you saying there are major donors out there who are very pleased?

Terry Don Phillips: Well, I'm not going to get into that, I'm just saying that there are those out there who are very pleased with Coach Bowden. There are those out there who are not and there are those out there who I'm sure are not pleased with me either, so

DAN SCOTT: I can't imagine. Laughter.

Terry Don Phillips: So, you don’t take a poll and try to get a majority, you get a sense of your people and the bottom line is we will understand, Coach Bowden and myself will understand what the expectations of the program are and we need to work hard to improve and ultimately get to the Orange Bowl or some other BCS championship. The real disappointing thing is that we didn't capitalize on that this year.

DAN SCOTT: Have you had donors coming to you and either asking you or telling you that they would contribute to a buyout?

Terry Don Phillips: No, and if I did, I wouldn't accept it.

Question: Will a buyout in a contract ultimately affect your decision….

Terry Don Phillips: Keep in mind, we have every one of our coaches under contract and every coach has some buyout potential in there and when we do our financial planning, and whatever you want to call it, contingency fund, we have a solid contingency fund that we, for example, if we were to have an economic downturn, bad weather games, those kinds of things, plus coaches buyouts, and that would include Coach Bowden's contract, that we can handle those issues.

Question: You said he has a good contract. Do you think that by not extending that contract that that increases the pressure for them to make that next level next year?

Terry Don Phillips: He has a good, solid contract. There's pressure whether we extend it or not, but there's 4 years on his contract, it's a good contract.

Question: What's your theory on, you said, if they did come to you you wouldn't accept it, you must have some policy.

Terry Don Phillips: I just don't think it's appropriate, I know it's done at other universities, I've never done that. I think it's not an appropriate way to do your business, I think the appropriate way to do your business, is that you handle your budget accordingly that you can handle those kinds of contingencies.

Question: So theoretically, I just want to make sure I understand here, theoretically, if you wanted to buy Bowden out, it wouldn't be a problem, you guys have a rainy day fund?

Terry Don Phillips: We have a rainy day fund to handle those kinds of contingencies.

Question: How are the sales going for the West End going?

Terry Don Phillips: It's going good, we're in design and development right now for the football portion, and what that includes is your strength and conditioning centers, your distance center, your offices, your meeting rooms, the aquatic rehab room, and that preliminary figure, which I think is a little bit inflated, because after what happened with the Club Seat portion where that thing just really got out of whack, now the architects are really on this side of the fence, but it's estimated at about 18 ½ million for that portion, we're close to that figure as we speak in cash and in pledges to be received.

Questions: What's the timeline like on construction for that?

Terry Don Phillips: What we've always talked about is that the facility was designed to be built in phases and again, we've done Phase I, which has turned out to be a nice enhancement to our stadium, the second phase can be built either all compassing or can be built in phases, either one, and I believe that by the '08 season we should be in good shape, with either most or all of it done. Don't hold me to that, I have to hedge on that, because we still have pledges to be paid, but the people that came in on the West End Zone, now they may be disappointed at this point in time, but they are the type of individuals that will come forward with their pledges and to not withhold, because they understand that this is an extremely important program, not only for our football program, but our total sports program.

Questions: Tommy said that in regards to contracts, things could be really interesting at this time next year. What's your response to that?

Terry Don Phillips: I don't have a response to that.

Questions: Would it be acceptable if they had an equal or lesser record next year?

Terry Don Phillips: I'm not going to get into hypotheticals.

Questions: In talking with him, have you recommended any changes, or in talking with him, do you think the changes are such that he and his staff can take care of?

Terry Don Phillips: I have strong confidence that Coach Bowden will make whatever changes he needs to make, he's done that in the past, he's made some extremely difficult decisions in the past, he feels good about his staff, he's solid behind his staff and where they are, you know it's one of those things in the off season, they're going to turn every stone they can and work as hard as they can to make the corrections to move us forward and I have every confidence in the world that every stone they can turn, they will to move us forward. That coaching staff, and Coach Bowden in particular, works real hard. You'd have to get up real early in the morning to beat him here and you'd have to stay real late to stay behind him, so they're going to work hard. They're a professional group of coaches and I have strong confidence that they are going to work real hard in the off season and whatever corrections they need to do, they will do.

Questions: So, if I'm understanding you properly, the fact that your were close, the fact that you lost 4 out of the last 5 games, probably the 2 most disappointing things about the football program as a whole, but that in general you feel good about the general direction?

Terry Don Phillips: Yes, they're doing a lot of good things with that program as a whole. The sour note is how we ended the season. That's tough to overcome. As a player and playing for Coach Rawls at Arkansas, he always had a saying, and I heard it as a player and remembered it when I worked for him, "they always remember what you do in November". It's always hung with me, if you do well in November, that's up there, if you don't they remember that. That was one of his pet sayings and there's just an awful lot of truth to that.

Questions: Have you met with him and talked about Tommy Bowden's season?

Terry Don Phillips: Tommy? We have met and talked a little bit about it yes, and again, keep in mind, after recruiting is when we sit down and go through the total program.

Questions: Do you think that they took a step back given the way they lost to Virginia Tech and Kentucky? You know, the year before the total losses were 14 points, that was a little different this year.

Terry Don Phillips: Well, you lost to Boston College by a point, you lost to Maryland by a point, Virginia Tech and their questionable score speaks for itself, that's how we got beat, and certainly there are things that going back, you know, this is one of the things Tommy talked about, they've got to look at the red zone score. Certainly, special teams, kick off coverage, we gave up too much in pass coverage late in the season and those are the things that need to be corrected. But if we took a step back, it was a small step because you can look at the margin of the losses. We're at the crest of the hill, we haven't' gotten over the hill. The challenge for us is to get over the hill. Somehow, some way. We haven't gotten over it yet.

Questions: Is the grass greener on the other side?

Terry Don Phillips: Laughter. Yeah, I guess.

Questions: When you talked with Tommy, without getting into what was said, who did most of the talking?

Terry Don Phillips: I think we talked equally. I have a good relationship with Tommy and he believes the same of me and so you just have to talk and so it's just an exchange.

Questions: You're on the sidelines a lot. Are you happy with what you see in the players and the sense of commitment and enthusiasm, that kind of thing? Is that where you want it to be?

Terry Don Phillips: Well, you see a lot of teams and you see a lot of coaches that don't get all that emotional on the sidelines and they're very successful. I've seen our kids very emotional and I've seen and sometimes when they weren't as emotional as other times and people will say our head coach needs to be really emotional and there's a lot of head coaches that are emotional but it you look at, but if you look at Jim Grobe, Jim's not an emotional coach, so it's a matter of style on how a coach handles things, and in my career, I've seen there's more than one way to skin a cat is what I'm trying to say.

Questions: I'm going to ask more about the players- their enthusiasm and level of commitment and such, not so much the coaches.

Terry Don Phillips: Well, again, it depends on the circumstances, and I don't have a good answer at this time.

Questions: Last year, your assistance and staff got a raise, will they get a raise this year, or will you pretty much tell them to stay the course?

Terry Don Phillips: Our coaches will receive what was done in the depatmtne anywhere from a 3 to 5 % raise.

Questions: Will the multi-year contracts be rolled up?

Terry Don Phillips: We don't have roll overs. I went from roll overs a long time ago because the first time you don’t' roll it over, it raises a red flag whether you intend it to or not, it raises the same question, why didn't you roll it over, so I went away from roll overs so I don’t' have to respond that so there's a point in time when you decide to extend or not extend so that's why I have straight contracts.

Questions: So there are 4 that have multi-year extends, Spence, Koning, Brad, and Is that right?

Terry Don Phillips: Yes.

Questions: So they have 1 year left?

Terry Don Phillips: I'd have to pull the contracts and see specifically where they are, but we do not have roll overs.

Questions: Will you be open to extending Tommy after next year?

Terry Don Phillips: I want Tommy to be successful. He's a good man, he works hard, but again, we look at things after the season to see where we are, so that's a hypothetical thing and I'm not going to approach that at this point in time. This time next year, you can ask me that question.

Questions: Are Gerry Stanley's coordiantor's in the last year, because I think their contracts run out..

Terry Don Phillips: No, the coordinators last year went on a 3-year contract, I can tell you that, so they're mving into their second year of a 3 year contract I can tell you that.

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