Official Press Release:
Clemson Head Coach Football Tommy Bowden has announced that three members of his 2004 coaching staff have been released. Offensive Coordinator Mike O'Cain, Defensive Coordinator John Lovett and Rover/Whips Linebacker Coach Thielen Smith are no longer with the staff.
"I appreciate the years of service these three men have given to me and our program," said Bowden. "All three were important reasons we defeated three top 10 teams the last two years. They all represented Clemson University and our program well. But, philosophically, I have decided to go in another direction."
O'Cain had been on Clemson's staff since the 2001 Gator Bowl when he replaced current West Virginia Head coach Rich Rodriquez. He
was Clemson's quarterbacks coach from 2001-04, including his coordinator responsibilities in 2004. Lovett had been Clemson's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach since 2002. Smith served as Clemson's defensive line coach from 1999-03 and was the rover/whips linebacker coach this past season.
Coach would you go over individually some of your considerations with each of the coaches.
Bowden: I'm going to leave it as it is (with the press release).
Why did you wait so long to speak publicly?
Bowden: Well with two, I did Tuesday. One Friday, so there would have been no since in getting you guys in here twice. At this time of year, I always have a year end press conference, so there's no sense in being redunant.
Will there be any significant changes on on offense or defense?
Bowden: Not so much offensively, defensively possibly.
Will there be any more changes on your coaching staff?
Any chance you will take over the offensive coordinator duties?
What will you be looking for in an offensive coordinator?
Bowden: Well, it would be more interested in one back than two back. That would be the biggest thing.
Was any of this because of recruiting?
Bowden: It involved all areas of the job description. Recruiting is one of them.
You mentioned how proud you were after the South Carolina game. Do you still feel that way now?
Bowden: I think one of the things about what stood out was how we came back. Surely, I didn't plan to be 1-4, I had envisioned other things. The team didn't quit, and showed a lot of character. I think that's what this year's team will be remembered for. That's what stood out about this year's team.
Were you happy with the way the defense played the last half of the season?
Bowden: Yes. I think the statement that I released says enough.
Have you talked to the team?
Bowden: They are in finals now, and I have not talked to the team as a group. I talked to them Monday after I got back, but it was more about academic, study hall, etc.
Was this difficult?
Bowden: No it's difficult. That's one of the difficult thing about this profession. The people that were here with us, achieved some pretty high achievements. All three of those guys were an important piece of the puzzle. Yes, it was very difficult.
This is your fourth offensive coordinator, do you feel like this sort of breaks up team unity, etc with so many changes?
Bowden: Offensively, we lost an offensive coordinator that became a head coach. You put Ron West on defense, we led the ACC in sacks. Offensively, we gave up less sacks then we did the year before. It didn't really bother me. I think we did well enough in those areas were continuity wasn't a problem.
Were you close to changing those same spots last year?
Will you consider promoting within?
There have been some reports saying that Blackwell will get the job.
Bowden: Is he within?
Bowden: Well there you go.
What were you disappointed with the most out of your offense this year?
Bowden: I'd say we never really developed a firm consistency over 11 games. There's a level of consistency that you have to have week in and week out, that's hard to get to. Look at the number of 6-5 teams that didn't qualify, like N.C. State, Maryland, Oregon, and on down the line. The parity that is here makes that level of consistency difficult to achieve.
You mentioned a comprehensive review you did. When did you do that?
Bowden: I think I left here on a Tuesday night and spent some time evaluating. I went down and spent some time with my family, my sister who had lost some people, and my brothers and my father. Did some research. Whatever that Monday was, after the South Carolina game, until the Sunday afterwards. That was about about nine or 10 days.
Would you have made the staff changes even if you went to a bowl game?
You talked to your dad?
So you weren't talking to your staff during this process?
Is it a concern, bother, worry, that Sports Illustrated that has an article that has a picture of you on the hot seat?
Bowden: I'm in there with some pretty good company probably. When you are at a place like here where you have high expecations. I haven't reach those. At least not mine.
Doesn't that surprise you though with the big buyout you have?
Bowden: That's probably not a local guy.
Do you have any interest in any other job?
How much time was spent telling these guys that they were let go?
Bowden: There's not an easy way to do it. I doubt that they wanted to talk with me for a very long time.
Are you looking for the things like Rich did things in your new offensive coordinator?
Bowden: Well, we did things like that this year. But if you watch the way he does things now, it's more two back. I'm anxious to see what direction we go. I hate to be too vague. I know exactly what I want to do. There will be another press conference announcing that, at that time.
When you made the changes that you made, what were the concerns with the rest of your staff considering it's a close knit group.
Bowden: I think they'll all understand. It doesn't make (doing it) any better. If you can't make those decisions, then you probably won't survive in this profession. When you have to make decisions like that, it's never easy.
Will the offensive coordinator also be the quarterbacks coach?
Bowden: Don't know yet. I have some flexibility.
Do you know about Justin Miller's situation?
Bowden: He has come to me with a typed out agenda that him and his mother typed out together. They've handed me a timeframe of when this will be done and this will be done. He has handled this very well. If anybody that was a junior handled it like him, there would be a lot better decisions made. Him and his mother have done an excellent job. I'll be very supportive of any decision he makes.
How important is it for your new coaches to be a good recruiter?
Bowden: It will be important. But you know, in this profession, but every coach has different strengths where they need to improve. Obviously, it's in the description to be productive in recruiting.
It would seem like through your actions, that maybe you were a little miffed about the decision not to go to a bowl game?
Bowden: I was under the impression on Monday, that there could be further discipline by the conference. Any of ya'll could called. Nobody called Tim (Bourret). I do what I always do, I went down with my sister and spent time with her (Thanksgiving). I got back Monday. Nobody called.
Well, now what are your comments now?
Bowden: I think my press release said everything that I need to say about this matter.
What are your thoughts on Steve Spurrier now in Columbia?
Bowden: To me, its another Hall of Fame guy. I've always respected and admired what he does. He's always been successful and his teams are are always motivated. They are hotly contested, very intense games. The next week, he would always go to the SEC Championship game. That's impressive. Unfortunately, he'll do a good job. I wish it wouldn't have been him.
You said before the season that you thought this team could be better, but may not have a better record than 2003. Do you still agree with that assessment?
Bowden: No, I really, the Georgia Tech game we should have had, the Duke game we should have had. But you look at the Wake Forest game, Miami game, we could have lost. You look at those turnovers, we might could have squeezed a few more out of there.
Tommy Bowden's Press Conference
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