4½ Years Later, Bowden Shows He's Human

Excuse me while I editorialize for a moment. Regardless of how you may have felt prior to Tuesday afternoon, it is hard for me to believe that you did not get a lump in your throat when you saw Tommy Bowden's press conference.

The transcript of the press conference would not be enough to raise the eyebrows of the average person who may have stumbled upon it. Those that were present in Clemson for the press conference, and those that watched on videotape will tell you a much different story.

Tommy Bowden was human, mortal, and passionate Tuesday...something that he has failed to show to the Clemson Nation at any time during his 4 1/2 years in Clemson.

Tommy Bowden has spent his career at Clemson trying desperately to be a cool, calm, and collective coach that focuses on the future and never dwells on the past. And, to be quite honest, he has succeeded in keeping all of us at arms length.

When Clemson has lost a close game, Bowden has spoken to the missed opportunities. When Clemson has won, Bowden has spoken about how patience will make Clemson fans see more and more wins. And when Clemson has been blown out, Bowden has rambled about lack of facilities that does not allow him to recruit players the caliber of the team that just punk'd Clemson.

None of the above set well with most Clemson fans. None of the above offered rational to a football program that struggled to maintain a winning record by the skin of its teeth. And none of that is the true Tommy Bowden.

When broken down, Tommy is cordial, non-aloof, personable, and genuine. Those of us that have met him away from the cameras can vouch for that.

Why Bowden has refused to allow that persona to permeate his overall personality in front of the media and at IPTAY meetings will probably never be truly understood.

That façade was broken down Tuesday amid persistent questions about his job status. Despite 4 ½ years of playing the tough guy who never lets anything deter his overall focus on being a coach, Bowden broke down.

And, in a perverted way, it was nice to see. We all knew Tommy Bowden was human, but his on camera persona never let us see it. We never felt Bowden hurt like we did after those blowout losses. We never felt Bowden lost sleep over the close losses to teams we felt we were better than. We never felt Bowden bled Clemson football like we did.

We were wrong.

Despite rumors that Bowden wants out of Clemson, nothing from that press conference would back that theory up. By all indications, or at least the indications of trying to read Bowden's deepest emotions, he is truly torn up about the possibility that he will not be able to coach this team after Saturday. Bowden can't fake that, and he is nowhere near the actor to try even if he wanted.

He looked a man defeated Tuesday. A man defeated that wanted to win. A man defeated that wasn't tired of fighting. But, a man defeated nonetheless.

His lack of emotion for 4 ½ years left most to feel as if he did not care. And, in all honesty, it may be the reason Bowden won't roam the sidelines next year at Clemson. It is almost if he was 4 ½ years late in showing his true character.

I've said before, and I'll plead once again. The FSU and Duke win, along with this game Saturday night, truly ought to count towards Tommy Bowden's future. Terry Don Phillips owes that to Bowden and the Clemson Nation.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

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