Terry Don Phillips Speaks

CLEMSON – For the past week, Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips kept a low profile and stayed out of the spotlight. After the football team's disappointing finish, many want to hear what he has to say. He finally spoke Monday afternoon. Here is what Terry Don Phillips had to say:

Opening statement from Terry Don Phillips:
"I know a lot of ya'll in this room were trying to chase me down last week and I made myself scarce on purpose. One, the waters needed to settle and I needed to collect my thoughts. If I offended any of you by being scarce, I apologize. But there are times when you need to collect your thoughts. I didn't want someone asking a question and I would have said that I didn't want to comment on that right now, and I would have seen that out there and at this point in time, that comment wouldn't be a good comment. That's why I elected not to hang around all that much."

Q: Was your scarcity a reflection of how difficult it was to close the season like that?
"That's a tough way to end the season. We had a wonderful opportunity to win the championship and go to the Orange Bowl and we didn't capitalize on that. Certainly you're disappointed when you have that opportunity and it doesn't materialize, particularly when you're so close to getting the job done."

Q: Are you satisfied with the direction of the football program?
"To answer that question, you have to look at the entirety of the program and the totality of it. Competitively, how do I look at it? Well, first of all, we're not in the cellar. We need to understand that. The last two years, we have been a contender for the championship. We haven't won it and there in lies the disappointment. We were a very strong contender for the conference championship. We're going to continue to be a strong contender in the conference race and I feel confident that we'll eventually get there. But it didn't happen this year, so that's where the disappointment is."

Q: For the last two years, Tommy Bowden has said, "We're close. We're close. We're close." When does close not cut it any more?
"Do you have a crystal ball? I don't have a crystal ball. What I have said to all of our coaches across the board, we need to consistently be in the upper tier of this league competitively. … That's what we try to stress in all of our sports, that we consistently want to be in the upper tier, that we're a factor in the championship race each and every year and you have an opportunity to win championships."

Q: Do you feel like the football team is at that level?
"I think the last two years show that we're at that level. We're consistently in the championship hunt. … The last two years we were a couple of points from being in the championship game and that's awfully close. Now, it's not where we want to be and it's not where the expectations are. We haven't gotten there, but we need to continue to be a strong, strong factor in the championship race."

Q: Do you continue to say the upper tier is in the top four?
"Yes. We were 5-3. If we beat Maryland or Boston College, we're in the championship game."

Q: But you were fourth in your own division?
"Ya'll look at it a little differently than I do. Wake Forest was 6-2 and you had three teams at 5-3. Ya'll can say that and look at it one way and I look at it another way. We're in the hunt for the championship. We were this year and we were the past year. It's not like talking about a team that is in the bottom half of the league."

Q: What's been your policy dating back to Oklahoma State on when you re-up contracts? Is it with four years left or three years left or two years left?
"There's not a timeframe. It's one of those things where ultimately, the light clicks on one way. But again, you go back and you look at the overall total health of your program."

Q: People don't care how you win, they just want you to win?
"You listen to fans and supporters because in a program such as Clemson, that's who we rely upon to build our program. We have wonderful support here and we're very grateful for the support that we have and you don't put your head in the sand with regard to that. Your people need to be pleased with the program, but as we all know in this business, if you stumble somewhat, there's going to be those that are very dissatisfied. But again, you have to balance the multitude out there, because there are people our there that are very pleased with Coach Bowden's leadership. …

"The bottom line is this: Coach Bowden and myself well understand what the expectations of the program are. And we need to work hard to improve and ultimately get to the Orange Bowl and some of the other BCS games. The real disappointing this is we didn't capitalize on that this year."

Q: Have you had donors this year tell you they'd contribute to a buyout?
"No and if they did, I wouldn't accept it."

Q: Will the buyout ultimately influence your decision one way or another?
"When we do our financial planning and with rainy-day funds or whatever you want to call it, we have a solid contingency fund. For example, if we were to have a bad economic downturn, bad weather games, plus coaching buyouts, and that would include Coach Bowden's contract, that we can handle those issues."

Notes
Phillips said the assistants will get between a three and five percent raise. … He added that Phase II and the entire WestZone Project should be completed by the 2008 season. … He also said he will have his annual long meeting with Bowden after Signing Day. … He said the four assistant coaches (Koenning, Spence, Burns and Scott) that have multiyear contracts will not have them automatically rolled over. He said he hasn't and doesn't believe in automatic rollovers.

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