October 13, 2008
Clemson's Rivals site says Tommy Bowden is done ($) as the Tigers' coach. Assistants have been informed this morning; receivers coach Dabo Swinney is your interim boss.
The timing is just getting a head start on the inevitable: Clemson has six games to play, but at 3-3 and 1-2 in the ACC -- with a bogged-down offense, ugly losses to Atlantic rivals Wake Forest and Maryland that virtually end any hope of recovering for a division title, and the horrific, ambition-crushing blowout against Alabama -- this season of high hopes has been circling the drain from the moment it kicked off. Bowden needed this one; this was the year everything was in place for the Tigers in terms of talent, schedule and expectations. This was supposed to be the culmination of the Bowden era, and really, it was, all too perfectly: he barely made it halfway through.
UPDATE: A free link from Rivals, and check out the comments at The State for all you need to know about the local reaction. And sorry to link to another pay board, but the headlines reveal all human desires: bring them the bloody sideburns of Will Muschamp!
UPDATE: Non-linkable buzz says there's a 5:15 p.m. ET news conference later today. Swinney is being floated as a serious candidate to keep the job at the end of the season ... but probably only if they can't lure a bigger name, which at the moment means Muschamp or just-fired Raiders boss/ex-USC offensive guru Lane Kiffin, who's also the name on everyone's lips whenever Syracuse finally drops the axe on Greg Robinson.
Tides change very quickly -- the guy has to defend Chase Daniel and a ticked off Missouri offense this weekend -- but it would be very shocking at this point if Muschamp wasn't a millionaire head coach by mid-December, whether it's at Clemson or somewhere else. So imagine you're an athletic director who was getting a little impatient with your coach right about now -- in someplace like, say, Seattle, or Knoxville, just to throw out a couple random examples -- and a prospect like Muschamp or Kiffin was at the top of the list you keep denying you have. From your perspective, Clemson just launched Sputnik. Terry Don Phillips is testing the H-bomb. If Will Muschamp (or any candidate) is the prize at the end of the race, Clemson just pulled about a dozen lengths ahead. They're open for business. Agents are lining up outside their door. And if you want that prize badly enough, maybe the only way you can hope to cut off Clemson at the pass is to drop your dead weight now, thereby setting off a domino effect of coach firings and jockeying for position that leaves your program embroiled in an obscure civil war in the Southeast Asian jungle. Where, of course, you want Will Muschamp leading the troops across the rice paddies. Man, you'd better act now, before you wind up bombing Cambodia, or negotiating with Bill Stewart.
UPDATE: Aside from the whole, "humiliated man losing his livelihood" part, this is getting a little too fun. Cullen Harper delivers the zinger of the year, per Mark Schlabach at the Worldwide Leader:
"They just told us. It's what he deserved," said senior quarterback Cullen Harper, who was benched after the Tigers' loss to Wake Forest loss and replaced by highly regarded sophomore Willy Korn. "Dabo Swinney is a fine man and will do an excellent job."
Harper's dad, Jeff, a linemen on Georgia's 1980 mythical championship team, is no more gracious:
"I'd call it karma," [Jeff Harper] said. "I thought it needed to be done. I think anytime a head coach or someone in a leadership position starts to place blame on his coaches and players, it weakens their respect on the team. His past experiences have shown he's done that."
Note to Dabo Swinney: if you bench Cullen Harper, you better hope Willy Korn plays well enough to keep him there as long as you're in charge. Yikes.
Recruits are already dropping out, as well: verbal Devonte Holloman is backing off his commitment to the Tigers, and five-star commit Craig Loston of Texas, the jewel of the class to date, told reporters when they informed him Bowden was canned, "Then I'm gone.
UPDATE: Offensive coordinator Rob Spence: also canned. This makes sense, since the less-productive coordinator usually takes most of the heat on non-losing teams. No word on whether Cullen Harper thinks Spence deserved it.