October 14, 2008
It got around fast Monday when Cullen Harper and Cullen Harper’s dad were quoted to the effect that “Tommy Bowden deserved to get fired at midseason and should never show his face in South Carolina again.” Maybe that last part is embellished, a little, but still: that’s not the kind of generic, PC-friendly, “it is what it is and we just have to move ahead one game at a time” pablum you expect to hear when a coach bites the dust.
Harper and Bowden have had their issues this year, and the quarterback continued to spit darts at Bowden in his weekly column for The Sporting News by praising interim boss Dabo Swinney for what Swinney’s not going to do – “He’s not going to talk behind your back. He's not going to bring stuff up in the media,” etc. It turns out, though, that amid the predictable non-responses of his peers, at least one ex-coach agrees completely that Tommy Bowden deserved to be fired, and isn’t afraid to say it in a national forum -- uh, Terry Bowden?:
So, did Tommy Bowden deserve what happened to him Monday?
He deserved it because he, of all people, knew what to expect when he got into this business. We grew up in it.
He knew what to expect when he went to Clemson. He knew that no matter where you go, there is an expectation of success that must be met. After nine years at Clemson, he knew exactly what those expectations were and he knew they had not been met.
Clemson expects to win the conference championship once in a while – and they should. After 10 years of falling short, they deserve the right to try to find a coach they believe can get them there.
Monday, it was time to move over and allow Clemson to move on.
If there’s anyone who knows about being forced out in the middle of a season, it’s Terry Bowden (or perhaps Jeff Bowden), so maybe it’s no surprise that he’s willing to push family pride and speak from experience what he thinks needs to be said about his big brother. After all, Tommy may be two years older, may have been the first to get his own room and may have gotten first dibs on borrowing the car on weekends, but remember who was in charge back in ‘93, bro:
When I went to Auburn in 1993 as the coach, Tommy already was on the staff there. I asked him to stick around and be my offensive coordinator. That is not an easy thing to do, especially when you are the older brother and you come from a family where there is an accepted hierarchy about how things like that are supposed to happen. Tommy sucked up his pride and helped us go undefeated in our first season. Then he watched with pride, from the background, while I was awarded national coach-of-the-year honors.
Speaking of the undefeated, national coach of the year: has Terry Bowden’s name been floated yet as a possible option for the Tigers? The “What about Terry Bowden?” thread is a Southern/East Coast coaching search tradition, and even if he almost never seriously looks into openings, Terry might at least listen to Clemson – preferably around, say, Thanksgiving, just to see if he can get Tommy to spit out his cranberry sauce when he brings it up before grace.