Bowden spurns Arkansas to stay with Clemson
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Clemson coach Tommy Bowden didn't have to leave for Arkansas to find the security he wanted.
Bowden agreed to a four-year extension Tuesday that, if he stays until the end, would keep him with the Tigers longer than any coach but the program's celebrated patriarch, Frank Howard.
"I fully intended when I came here nine years ago to make this my last stop," Bowden said.
Bowden's new contract would take him through 2014 with only Howard's 30-season tenure at Clemson (1940-69) longer.
Other details of the deal were not released, pending review by a university trustees' committee. Amid reports Bowden was wooed by Arkansas, athletic director Terry Don Phillips says the coach's new financial package moves him among the highest-paid coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference. According to sources, the new contract will pay him around $2.2 million annually.
Bowden, 69-41 since taking over at Clemson in December of 1998, said he was never offered the Arkansas job by the new athletic director -- and Bowden's friend -- Jeff Long and always felt confident he and Phillips would settle contract talks that began Nov. 25, a day after Clemson (9-3) defeated archrival South Carolina, 23-21.
It was Bowden's seventh win in nine tries against the Tigers' rival. It also took some of the sting away from a 20-17 loss at home to Boston College that cost the Tigers a shot at the ACC title game.
Clemson last won the ACC in 1991.
"Yeah, we're a little bit frustrated in this area," Phillips said. The AD returned from New York where he was attending ceremonies honoring the induction of former Clemson great, linebacker Jeff Davis into the College Football Hall of Fame.
"We're in the best position in a long time to make that move to the upper level," Phillips said.
Bowden pledged the Tigers would continue competing for ACC and national crowns. The team's gone 8-4, 8-5 and 9-3 the past three seasons, the longest streak of seasons with eight or more wins since 1986-91.
Bowden last had his contract amended in 2003 when he saved his job with a four-game win streak that included his first victory in the "Bowden Bowl" over his father Bobby's Florida State team, a landmark 63-17 win over South Carolina and a victory against Tennessee in the Peach Bowl.
That time, Bowden didn't not ask for a raise, just a substantial, two-way buyout that proved the loyalty of both sides.
Phillips would not detail the new buyout. He said it was based on what the ACC's best-paid coaches have in their deals.
This past Sunday after Clemson accepted a bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play Auburn, Bowden told reporters he wanted to stay at Clemson "as long as they want me."
Then came the reports about Bowden's flirtation with Arkansas, seeking a new coach since Houston Nutt left last month.
Long called Phillips last week to ask permission to speak with the football coach. "We certainly understand it's a competitive world out there," Phillips said. "But our bottom line was accomplished."
Bowden was pleased he had the confidence of the athletic department and the university's administration.
"Anytime you sign a new contract, you feel a little better," Bowden said. "It's kind of like Christmas. You keep the gift all year, but when you open it up, it's always a little nicer."
ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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