Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tommy Bowden and Clemson Football's Future

Tommy Bowden, Clemson Head Football Coach, signed an extension to his current contract that will keep him at the SC school until 2012. Rumor has it that he is now on the hot seat for 2008.

Of course that's not true, TB is one game away from perhaps his best year ever at the school that last won an ACC Championship in 1991 and a school that is starving for a championship. He was recently being courted by Arkansas for the same position but for more money. But one would ask what exactly would he gain from such and move and why would he consider it. Here's my take.

The only tie that he has with Arkansas is the new AD there is a good friend from a coaching stop at the football powerhouse known only as Duke. Sorry for that little jab you cameron crazies. One benefit, money aside, would be that he gets that honeymoon period where expectations aren't as high as they would be at Clemson where he is currently in his ninth year. A new start would give him at least 3 to 4 years relief from being included in annual preseason football magazines as a coach on the proverbial hot seat. But of course the downside to Arkansas is that fan base basically just ran out a coach that won them two division titles in the SEC, regarded as the best football conference around. So if TB thought the expectations at Clemson were high he would've been stepping into a hornets nest at Arkansas.

TB's 2008 squad is already being hyped as his best team every, returning 19 starters including every skill position on offense and most of the defense. Things set up nicely next year as Boston College will no longer have Matt Ryan behind center, FSU will still have a weak QB and I think Clemson has finally figured out the Wake Forest issues and we get G. Tech at home.

But there are still Clemson faithful that actually wanted TB to part ways and head to Arkansas. Which to me is completely incomprehensible. Being a huge Clemson fan that I am I've grown frustrated with the program but I recognize that this program is headed in the right direction, the direction opposite of where we were headed before he took over in 1998. He has had Clemson bowl eligible all 9 years of his tenure. He is 7-2 against hated South Carolina, graduates his players and leads the program in a respectable manner.

Those that wish for TB to go are made up for a majority that still live in the days of Danny Ford, known as the greatest coach in Clemson history thanks to the programs lone National Championship in 1981. What those people fail to recognize is that football in 1981 isn't the same football that is being played today. Passing is the name of the game now as opposed to the line it up and just run it. Teams use spread offenses to better utilize more athletic players, the game is quicker now and if you can't throw the ball with consistency you're not going to win many games. Add in the fact that there are more powerhouse programs in the ACC thanks to the additions of Florida St, Miami, V Tech and Boston College. The ACC used to be a conference ruled by the Tigers and Maryland. Clemson became blinded by its dominance and failed to look to the future as other colleges started putting more money into stadium additions and facility upgrades. Not till Bowden entered the picture in 1998 did Clemson finally commit financially to upgrades. So for all those TB haters, look at where we were in 1996 and fast forward to today, do you not feel good about where the program is headed?

Coach comparison.

If you want to compare a coach in the ACC to Bowden you need look no further than Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, know now as one the top coaches in college football. He is 3rd among current head coaches in wins. But for those that thought he was always successful know that he wasn't. In his first 6 seasons he had a combined record of 24-40 and in year six he was 2-6-1. Imagine where that program might be now if Hokie faithful had given up him at that point? Hard to imagine isn't it? Well he turned it around and in year 9 found himself in the Sugar Bowl as Big East Champions and a 10-2 record. Since that first double digit win season he has gone on to nine seasons of 10 or more wins. He legacy is now firmly secure at V Tech.

So for all those TB detractors, have a little faith. Good things are coming.


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