December 4, 1998
CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson got the football coach it wanted Thursday and Tommy Bowden got the traditional orange jacket and the $700,000-a-year job he said he has always wanted.
“Fifteen years ago, I kind of designated eight schools that were south of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi where I would like to retire,” said the 44-year-old Bowden. “At the top of that list was Clemson University.”
“I plan on being here the rest of my coaching career.”
Bowden takes over at the Atlantic Coast Conference school from Tommy West, fired just before the end of a 3-8 season after five years at Clemson.
Bowden’s five-year contract has a base salary of $155,000 a year, but with guaranteed radio and television income of $325,000 a year, endorsements of $180,000 and other payments, the total package is $700,000.
The incentives for going to a bowl or winning a national championship could boost his yearly paycheck as high as $750,000.
“We have a goal of winning the ACC, we want to participate in the Bowl Championship Series and we want to compete for a national championship,” said athletics director Bobby Robinson. “We’re convinced the person we hired is the person who can take us to that level.”
Leaving the Tulane program he turned around was a difficult decision, Bowden said, but the chance to compete at a higher level helped him make up his mind.
“Tulane offered me everything that Clemson did, except for what I was looking for,” said Bowden, who guided the Green Wave to an 11-0 record, the Conference USA title, a No. 9 ranking and a Liberty Bowl slot. “And it was the challenge to play in the arena we’ve got to play in and the people we’ve got to play against.”
Bowden will not coach Tulane in the Liberty Bowl.
“I’d like to be a head coach in a bowl game, but I hope there will be a few more chances here,” he said.
Clemson will have 14 starters and 44 lettermen returning next year. Bowden said he had not had a chance to evaluate them, but his priority would be “reinstilling the fear” opponents used to feel coming into Death Valley. He said he would do that by demanding absolute obedience and discipline.
“I don’t have any reservations about my plan,” he said. “We’ll have success as soon as the players buy into the plan.”
Some of the players at Thursday’s news conference sounded like they already were satisfied customers.
“I think we’re going to buy into that real quick,” said junior quarterback Brandon Streeter. And from sophomore defensive tackle Terry Jolly: “I’m at the point I’m ready to play today.”
Bowden has not selected his staff yet and may retain some of West’s assistants.
“I will talk to the staff then make a decision on who will stay and who will come from Tulane,” he said.
Bowden said he would love to have his brother Terry, who left his coaching job at Auburn this year, as an assistant, but knows his brother would not want to work for him.
When asked how he feels knowing that he will compete against his father, Bobby Bowden, and Florida State in the ACC every year, the new Clemson coach said, “I’ve dreamed of beating the old man for a long time.”
By MARK PRATT Associated Press Writer
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