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Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Talks between Bowden, Clemson continue

Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson coach Tommy Bowden talked with school administrators for the third straight day without reaching an agreement on a contract extension.

"I wish it would've been worked out before I left, but it hasn't," Bowden said Tuesday before leaving for Florida for Thanksgiving. He would not elaborate.

Bowden has four years left on a contract that pays him at least $1.1 million a year. Reports have the two sides discussing a raise and an additional three years that would bind him through 2010.

A contract buyout for Bowden seemed the likeliest scenario a month ago. The Tigers were beaten 45-17 by Wake Forest and stood 5-4 with Florida State, Duke and South Carolina left to play.

But Bowden, his coaches and the players did their best work all season for a remarkable turnaround.

The Tigers defeated the then-third-ranked Seminoles to give their coach his first win in five tries against his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

They followed that up with a 40-7 victory over Duke and a 63-17 win over archrival South Carolina.

Bowden rode the shoulders of players to midfield last Saturday night after the game. Clemson fans who remained at Williams-Brice Stadium chanted, "Tommy Bowden, Tommy Bowden."

The surge was a big reason the Peach Bowl selected the Tigers at 8-4 over North Carolina State Wolfpack at 7-5.

"I've never seen a team react to a coaching staff the way this team reacted to Tommy and his coaching staff toward the end of the year," bowl president Gary Stokan said.

Athletic director Terry Don Phillips said talks were progressing and he felt good about negotiations. Clemson officials and attorneys were in contact with Bowden's representatives in Florida and were not talking face to face. Phillips said that sometimes takes additional time.

"We're going to work as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

Phillips was asked whether the sticking points were over money or support, which seemed lukewarm to Bowden at times the past year.

"He has our total support," said Phillips, hired in June 2002. Beyond that, "I don't want to get into discussions of contracts and what we're talking about. The issue is we want Coach Bowden here for the long term and we're working toward that."

Receiver Tony Elliott said the players want Bowden back for 2004 and well into the future.

"I think the program is headed in the right direction," he said. "From what I've heard, I'm hoping it's going to get done. I'm praying it's going to get done."

Phillips said it was possible to have an agreement before Bowden returned to campus Sunday.