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Interview with Tommy Bowden

Aug. 2, 1999

How would you describe your offensive system to the common fan?

“I would say it is multiple formation, up tempo offense that uses a lot of no-huddle and shotgun formation. That doesn’t mean we throw the ball on every down. On the contrary, we were in the top 25 in the nation in rushing last year. We ran for more yards than Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and a lot more schools that you consider to have a strong tradition as a running team.

“In general, we try to make the defense defend all 53 yards across the field, then have to back up and defend all 100 yards vertically.”

Would it be fair to say that you have a more hands on approach to the offense then the defense?

“I know the general defensive philosophy of what we do on defense mirrors that of the offense. If we are going to be upbeat, fast tempo attack offense then I would want a defense that would play similar in a similar fashion. That is Reggie’s style and temperament.

“However Reggie wants to keep the opposition from scoring touchdowns, that is the objective. Points allowed is the number one statistic. I think pressure is the best way to make them throw. We want to take easy throws and getting up in their face.

How did you turn Tulane’s program around so quickly?

“Anytime a head coach takes a new job, he instills his own personality and temperament into the program. How fast a program is turned around is determind by how quickly the players adjust to that system. That is one thing that happened down there(Tulane). The players had a sense of urgency and bought into the program very quickly. “

When you go on the road recruiting, what are the selling points of Clemson?

“Clemson has a great tradition from a football stand point. The environment that happens on a Saturday in this town is unique. The running down the hill, rubbing the rock, those are the things that are known from coast to coast in college football. A lot of players want to go where it is special. Football is special here.

“In a short amount of time that I have been here, I found that Clemson is stronger academically then I had thought. Coming from a private instate background, I am familiar with strengths of degrees, quality of education and this seems to be stronger than I anticipated.

What are your memories as an opponent in Death Valley?

“When I played here back in the early 80’s, Clemson was going through their Hey Day and they were very tough and physical team. They were really dominating in the ACC back then with a very aggressive and intimidating style defense and a really hard nose run offense. It was a very intimidating environment because the fan reaction, the fans support and the team that was on the field. When I was at Duke we were out of the games by halftime.

“Actually the first time I came to Clemson was as a player in 1975. We (West Virginia) practiced a couple of days at Clemson on our way to play NC State in the Peach Bowl. I remember Frank Howard speaking to our team. He said some things I hadn’t heard before, he even shocked by father (Bobby Bowden who was head coach at West Virginia at the time).”

How do you feel about playing against your father on October 23?

“I am sure as the game approaches it will bring on more significance or a more emotional reaction. At this point in time we are probably like everyone else in the conference, knowing that they (Florida State) are the team to beat, they are the most talented team. That is who everybody is chasing. As the game approaches I will understand the significance of being the first meeting of father and son. Right now, in the middle of summer, we have a lot of things on our mind as we prepare for the season.”

“My father neither encouraged nor discouraged any of us when it came to getting into coaching. We really didn’t sit around and talk that much about football. Terry went to law school right afterwards, Jeff’s degree is criminology.

” I was probably the only one that knew at an early age that I wanted to go into coaching. I wanted to go into it about the seventh grade. What do you see are the priorities for your players?

The first thing we do is play extremely hard for 60 minutes. If we teach these players to play extremely hard for 60 minutes then we will win our share of the games. Once we increase the talent pool and play hard for 60 minutes we will win a bunch of games.

” If you had to take one thing from last year that kept Clemson from being a winning team last year, I would say you have to look at turnovers. Ranking 103rd out of 112 teams in turnover margin tells the story. Last year and two years at Tulane, we were fifth in the nation last year in turnovers both seasons. If I had to pick a priority of something to eliminate through spring and into the season it would be turnovers. So that is one thing that we need to address from a philosophical standpoint.”

Overall impressions of your recruiting class.

“I thought under the circumstances it was a good year. I don’t think we’ll know until two or three more years how good it was. The day after I took the job, I pulled up the depth chart and I looked at the numbers that we had at each position and our needs. I tried to recruit accordingly.

“We run an offense that runs some two back offense, but really only need three fullbacks on scholarship. So there are some positions where we didn’t sign anybody. We didn’t sign anybody at a tight end this year and we will next year. Looking at our needs and our numbers I thought we had a good year.”

Comment on your patience in becoming a head coach.

“I really felt that because of my background that all the organization, the management of being a head coach, I felt like I had a background in it. I thought I wanted to get around some quality programs and make some comparisons and see the way coaches handled different situations. I have been raised in a household with one of the best around. I won’t even compare it to something else. In 19 years as an assistant, I spent 11 in the SEC and four in the ACC and some years in an independent program.”

” That was the best way to prepare my career, spend as much time as I could around quality programs. When you get the opportunity to become a head coach, you can pick and choose the things you learned from the different environments and fit into your current situation.”

With the exceptions of your family, who some of the other coaches that have influenced you?

“I worked four years with Steve Sloan I learned a lot in the passing game. I learned a lot on the motivation side of coaching from Pat Dye at Auburn. Two years with Homer Smith at Alabama was very beneficial when it came to offense. The years I spent coaching with my father and playing for him, about eight years total, four playing and four coaching, I learned a lot of offensive football movement and discipline. More or less, the offense that we used at Tulane and what we will use here are drawn from the years I was with my father.”

Your own athletic career?

“I walked on at West Virginia and played wide receiver, ended up starting the last two years. I was fortunate to play in a bowl game, played NC State, an ACC team in 1975. Probably my biggest thrill as an athlete was beating Pittsburgh in 1975. They had Toney Dorsett at the time and were just one year away from winning the national championship. It was a game televised by ABC and at the time Pittsburgh and West Virginia were very big rivals.”