Contract comes day after winning award

Updated: December 4, 2003, 1:40 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson coach Tommy Bowden says he isn't planning on going anywhere else and he's willing to back that promise with his own money.

The coach agreed Tuesday to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the Tigers until 2010. To make sure the school and fans know how serious he is, Bowden agreed to unprecedented buyout clauses just as strict as the school's clauses, and he won't get a nickel more in salary.

"This is where I want to be the rest of my coaching career," said Bowden, who first imagined a coaching career at Clemson as he watched Danny Ford lead the Tigers to several Atlantic Coast Conference titles and a national championship in the early 1980s.

The fifth-year coach had no hard feelings after enduring one of the craziest months any coach has gone through. On Nov. 1, fans at the Wake Forest game were chanting to have him fired after a 45-17 loss. On Monday, he was chosen ACC coach of the year.

In between, his Tigers convincingly beat then-No. 3 Florida State, Duke and South Carolina by a combined 129-34 to secure a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl bid. That made Bowden the first ACC coach to lead his team to a bowl in each of his first five years.

"What they did throughout this year showed a great deal of character, a great deal of integrity and resilience," said athletic director Terry Don Phillips, whose vague call for improvement in the football program made some fans and reporters turn every game into a referendum on whether Bowden would be fired.

Phillips said the constant rumors and knee-jerk reactions is why he waited until the end of the year to talk about the coach's future. "I'm glad he waited until the end of the season," Bowden joked.

While Tuesday was a renewal of vows of sorts -- Bowden promising to be true to Clemson forever, while Phillips said Bowden is our "head coach for the long-term" -- the two men never shook hands in front of reporters or engaged each other despite sitting side-by-side on the podium.

Instead, it was all business.

For the most part, Bowden's contract remains the same. He will get paid $1.1 million per year, with a chance to make an additional $300,000 based on incentives such as the number of wins each season and performance in bowl games.

But the biggest change came in the buyout clause. Bowden agreed to make the same commitment to Clemson as the school made to him.

If Bowden is fired before 2005, Clemson will owe him $4 million. And if Bowden leaves on his own before then, he'll owe the school the same amount.

The buyout goes down to $3 million if there are four years left, $2.5 million if Bowden has more than two years but less than four years remaining and $500,000 if Bowden leaves or is fired with one or two years left on his contract.

Phillips said Bowden came up with the buyout idea, telling the athletic director, "I'll do the very same for Clemson University as they do for me and my family."

Bowden said he researched the proposal and knows of no other coach in the country with a similar agreement.

Talks on the new contract began shortly after Clemson beat South Carolina 63-17 on Nov. 22.

With his future settled, Bowden said he will turn his attention to the Peach Bowl, where the Tigers will play a Southeastern Conference opponent -- most likely Florida -- and to recruiting.

"We're just a player or two away from a BCS bowl game," Bowden said.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press