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Monday, December 3, 2007
Updated: December 6, 11:38 AM ET
Arkansas may offer Bowden $2 million annually to replace Nutt

By Chris Low and Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

Arkansas has focused its coaching search on Clemson's Tommy Bowden and is prepared to offer Bowden a contract in excess of $2 million annually, sources told ESPN.com.

Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips was in New York on Monday but may fly back to meet with Bowden on Tuesday morning to try and persuade him to remain at Clemson. Earlier, Clemson had offered Bowden a two-year extension and $400,000 raise that would increase his total package to approximately $1.6 million annually.

Bowden and new Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long are longtime friends going back to their days at Duke when they worked on the Blue Devils' staff together. Bowden and Long met in South Carolina on Monday, sources told ESPN.com.

Stanley Reed, the Arkansas board of trustees chairman, told The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas on Monday that Long had indeed settled on Bowden and that Arkansas chancellor John White began seeking feedback from the board of trustees, some of whom expressed reservations about Bowden possibly being a lateral hire for the Razorbacks.

Bowden, 53, has seemingly been on the hot seat each of the last three seasons at Clemson, as fans have become frustrated with his inability to get the Tigers to the ACC championship game or a BCS bowl. Bowden has a 69-41 record in nine seasons at Clemson and is 87-45 in 11 seasons overall.

The irony should he take the Arkansas job is that he would be replacing a coach, Houston Nutt, who took the Hogs to two SEC championship games in 10 years but left Fayetteville last month largely because of a fractured fan base. Nutt was named the Mississippi head coach a day after leaving Arkansas.

Bowden, the son of legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, wasn't Arkansas' first choice to replace Nutt. The Razorbacks initially made overtures to Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and also inquired about North Carolina's Butch Davis, who last month agreed to a contract extension with the Tar Heels.

Sources told ESPN.com's Joe Schad that Arkansas has also interviewed Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English.

Bowden guided the No. 15 Tigers to a 9-3 record this season, capped by his fifth victory in the last six seasons over archrival South Carolina. However, the Tigers lost at home to Boston College the week before and missed out on a chance to play in the ACC championship game.

On Sunday, Clemson accepted an invitation to play Auburn (No. 23 BCS, No. 22 AP) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31. Each of Bowden's 11 teams at Tulane and Clemson have been eligible for postseason play.

Chris Low is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. ESPN's Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.