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Contract comes day after winning award

12/4/2003 - Clemson Tigers

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.