Tuesday's press conference was running along just fine.
Tommy Bowden provided the media with plenty of laughs about the normal array of topics, including the usual Lou Holtz banter, the normal questions about the Tigers' running game and defense, and of course, a million questions about the South Carolina - Clemson rivalry.
And then, a strange set of circumstances suddenly emerged.
A question was posed to Tommy Bowden regarding his job security that seemed to strike a nerve. Perhaps it was the way it was phrased, perhaps it was just the fact that it was asked for the 10 millionth time.
Whatever the reason, it caused quite a reaction out of the Tigers' head man. The question that was posed to coach Bowden asked him "within his heart" if he knew whether or not he would be back to coach the Tigers in 2003 season.
The normal reply that most of the media has come to expect from the Tigers' head man is, "that's for the administration to decide."
Instead of the normal response, there was an awkward silence from the stage. A silence that lasted for at least 8-10 seconds. For the first time all season long, you could tell that Coach Bowden was affected by the questioning.
It's not a situation that is easily described. Visibly, Coach Bowden was seriously contemplating what his next statement would be. There was emotion on his face, emotion that again, can't easily be described in words.
The 8-10 second pause was followed by his standard response that his fate would be decided by the administration and that he and his coaching staff was completely focused on the South Carolina Gamecocks.
But the expression on his face certainly told a different story altogether.
You could see that the embattled Coach had been asked one too many times about his future at Clemson University. You could see that the questions were wearing on him, and you could see that the future remained cloudy at best.
I don't have the right words to describe what happened in the press conference, but the speculation that ensued afterwards from the media generally followed one of two routes.
1) The fact that the administration hasn't come out and publicly supported Tommy Bowden has ultimately created an atmosphere that has made it difficult for him to operate.
2) That Tommy Bowden knows that he will not be back next season, whether that's by his own will, or the will of the administration, and all of this public scrutiny wore him down in what could possibly be his last press conference as Clemson's head coach.
Again, those are just the sentiments of many of the people that cover Clemson athletics the closest. Whatever the case may be, we'll likely have a definitive answer soon after Saturday's win over the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Tuesday Press Conference Insider
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