Never More Proud: A Tommy Bowden Gem

Just 7 days after the worst loss in Tommy Bowden's tenure at Clemson, the Tigers notched the biggest win since the 1981 National Championship season. Does this win change everything?

The Clemson players, coaches, and fans were treated Saturday night to an extremely fulfilling whipping of #3 Florida State. The Tigers dominated the Seminoles in every facet of the game: offense, defense, and the kicking game. After outplaying the Seminoles a year ago in Tallahassee without having anything to show for it, Clemson avenged that frustration by demonstrating without a doubt that they are a better football team than Florida State.

Last Monday was a tough day for this Clemson football team, partly because they had to deal with the whipping they took in Winston-Salem and partly because rumors floated around that the tenure of their head coach was coming to a close at the end of the season.

And so it was. A week where the media spent the majority of their time focusing on our football coach…all while our football team dug within themselves to prepare for the dismantling they would eventually hand to the Seminoles.

Our fans responded Saturday night not by protesting our misery from last week, but rallying our troops with deafening approval as the Tigers came down the hill. Tommy Bowden supporters and detractors united in support for Clemson University and our football team. It was the most electric atmosphere in Death Valley in many years, and it was sustained for the entire four quarters. And our team and their coaches rewarded us with a win over the highest ranked team in the history of Clemson football.

A week after feeling embarrassed leaving Winston-Salem, I left Death Valley Saturday night with more pride for these football players and their coaches than I ever have…and I've been coming to Clemson football games since the mid 1970's.

How all this shakes out for our head coach remains a bit of a mystery. To an outsider that does not know me, the revelations on the message board from last Monday could look like a ploy to make money. All I can tell you is that it wasn't a ploy to make money, but simply a relay of information that I believed was legitimate. You will choose to believe that my motive for the post was pure or not, so there really is nothing else I can say about it to you that can change the opinion you have of me.

The individual at Clemson who gave that information out last Saturday, Sunday and Monday will either prove to be correct, or they will be rooted out as a treacherous backstabber to Tommy Bowden.

I want to believe that Saturday night factors into the equation for Tommy Bowden. I want to believe that the decision on Bowden's future has not been made and that Saturday's win will go into the plus column for Tommy.

I know that the official statement from Clemson is that a decision has not been made because that is the right thing to say. Most of us know Larry Shyatt was told he would receive his walking papers a month or so before he actually received them, regardless of what the Athletic Department was saying to the press. And, while Shyatt never had a win over a top 3 team that last month of the season to help his cause, Tommy Bowden does.

I have preached all year long to wait and evaluate this coaching staff when the season is done. The debacle in Winston Salem challenged that common sense and made many folks, including myself, question that rational.

Saturday night refocused that theory, at least for me. Tommy Bowden deserves Saturday night, as well as the next two games, to be included in his portfolio in the decision making process.

I hope that Terry Don Phillips' words Wednesday are the truth. I hope this decision has not already been made. I hope that the information I posted Monday proves to be inaccurate, and I can live with that with a clear conscious knowing my intentions were pure. And finally, I hope Tommy Bowden will get a fair shake at the end of the season.

Regardless of that uncertain future, Coach Tommy Bowden, this staff and the players gave the Clemson Nation one of the most memorable nights in school history.

And Tommy deserved every second of it.

You can reach Scott at scottrhyer@msn.com.

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