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Clemson Campus Excited About New Football Coach

December 3, 1998

Tune into the live webcast press conference announcing Bowden as the new football coach, Thursday at 3:00 EST.

By MARK PRATT Associated Press Writer

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Everyone associated with Clemson can’t wait until the Tigers open their 1999 season against Marshall.

That’s when they get to see new coach Tommy Bowden’s high-powered offense, modeled after the one he built at Tulane, which went 11-0 this season.

Bowden, who was to be introduced today as Clemson’s 23rd head football coach, has the Green Wave averaging more than 300 yards passing and more than 200 yards rushing this season. Tulane also has averaged 45 points.

“He likes to throw the ball, and that’s exciting to me,” Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter said after hearing who will replace coach Tommy West, fired after the Tigers’ 3-8 season.

Phil Batson, editor and publisher of The Orange and White boosters magazine, has been talking with alumni and fans all week.

“I think everyone’s delighted with Tommy Bowden for a variety of reasons,” Batson said. “First of all because of the job he’s done at Tulane, but also I think because he runs a fan-friendly offense.”

All over campus, people are excited about the prospects of making Clemson more competitive.

“People are already talking about challenging for the ACC and getting back to a New Year’s Day bowl,” said Louis Garmendia, sports editor of The Tiger student newspaper.

A new coach on campus usually is greeted enthusiastically, but this has risen to a higher level.

“I’ve been through 10 or 12 of these things, but I think this time there’s a lot more excitement,” said George Bennett, executive director of the IPTAY booster club. “How many times do you have a coach coming in who’s been 11-0 and has a chance to be national coach of the year?”

Bowden became a hot coaching commodity after turning around Tulane’s program. The Green Wave had not had a winning season in 15 years until Bowden led the team to a 7-4 mark last season. This year, the No. 9 Green Wave won the Conference USA title and earned a berth in the Liberty Bowl.

“Teams in this league have been known for defense, and he helped change that perception,” said John Thompson, an assistant coach at Southern Mississippi.

Thompson, who worked with Bowden at Alabama, said Bowden is a coach who squeezes every ounce of effort out of his team.

“He has great imagination,” Thompson said. “His players have fun and it looks like they use all the ability they have. Our all-conference team was released the other day and Tulane had very few players on it. They didn’t have the best players, but they had the best team.”

If Bowden is successful in cranking up Clemson’s offense, that could make for an interesting game against Florida State, coached by his father, Bobby Bowden.

“I’m thrilled to have Tommy in our conference,” Bobby Bowden said. “He’s got his work cut out for him. But Clemson is one of the top universities in our nation with excellent potential.”

Tulane quarterback Shawn King said Tommy Bowden gets his players to believe in themselves. “If the Clemson team does what he asks, they’ll get better in a hurry,” he said.