Print and Go Back NCF Nation [Print without images]

Monday, October 13, 2008
Bowden's departure no surprise for 3-3 Tigers

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Tommy Bowden is out at Clemson, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to what Clemson hasn't done this season.

 Brian Schneider/US Presswire
 Tommy Bowden is out at Clemson after the Tigers started the season 3-3.

In fact, if you're Jeff Harper, father of benched Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper, you might even call it "karma."

There was no reason to prolong this decision, not after the loss to Wake Forest all but knocked the Tigers out of the running for the program's first ACC title since 1991, and not after Bowden demoted Harper in an attempt to appease the fans and save face.

Tommy Bowden lost his team long before he lost his job.

"I enjoyed playing for coach Bowden and I liked him, but in the end he was yelling at us to be leaders and it wasn't working," running back C.J. Spiller told ESPN's Joe Schad. "He did all he could to motivate us, but guys weren't buying into what he was saying.

"He let the offensive coordinator [Rob Spence] run the show and we got away from me and James [Davis]," Spiller said. "I think part of the problem was when he benched Cullen. Some people wanted the offensive coordinator fired, he fired the quarterback and then he got fired."

Bowden is not a bad football coach, but he is not a great manager. He had nothing to do with the play calling. Maybe he should have. He refused to make staff changes. So he became the change.

Bowden had nine-and-a-half seasons to get the job done. Since 1999, Bowden's teams have finished better than 5-3 against ACC opponents only once in a single season. In 2000, the Tigers finished 6-2 in the league, good for a second-place finish.

This year, Bowden thought he had everything he needed to win the ACC title -- two 2,000-yard rushers, a 2,000-yard receiver and a record-setting quarterback. But a young, injury-depleted offensive line was a major setback. How major?

According to ESPN Research, when it's third-and-7 or more this season, the Tigers are a stunningly bad 2-of-34 (5.9 percent), including a 0-for-10 effort in last week's loss at Wake Forest. That percentage ranks 118th out of 119 FBS teams. The Tigers were also just 4-of-9 on third-and-2 or less, which ranks in the bottom 15 nationally.

And you can't ignore the turnovers.

As ESPN Research pointed out, the Tigers already have matched last year's 12 turnovers through six games. In 2007, Clemson's offense turned the ball over nine times and three fumbles were lost by special teams. This season, all but one turnover is from the offense, which means that unit already has more turnovers than it did all of last season.

All of those added up in a year when the pressure was on for Bowden to lead the Tigers to an ACC title with the most veteran roster he's ever had. He didn't. And after 10 years of expectations and opportunities, and with the ACC being wide-open in recent years, it was time to search for someone who could.