Spence Confirms He's Staying

ATLANTA – Rob Spence was completely out of character Friday morning when he sat at a table on a stage and addressed a room full of media about his brief affair with Tennessee.

The Clemson offensive coordinator, who doesn't like to discuss his personal life or much of anything else to reporters, offered a diatribe of why he withdrew his name from contention for the same position at Tennessee.

He seemed more like his boss and Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden than the man who has become known as someone that says very few words.

"I talked with Coach Bowden at length and I have a great relationship with Coach Bowden and an outstanding relationship with the university and I was flattered to be approached by the University of Tennessee," Spence said. "I spoke to them about their vacancy. At this time, I think it's in my best interest and the university's best interest and our players' best interest for me to withdraw my name. I have chosen to stay at Clemson University."

Spence, who just completed his third season at Clemson, interviewed at Tennessee a week ago Friday and was on campus for some six-plus hours before returning home. Dollar figures were discussed and CUTigers.com reported that an informal offer had been made much in the same fashion that Arkansas did with Bowden just a few weeks earlier.

Most of the time, the conversations are like this: "We will pay you this amount, so if we were to offer it to you, would you take it?" This way, athletic directors can save face by saying the job was never offered.

Spence said he was never offered the job just like Bowden said he was never offered the job at Arkansas.

"I felt flattered to be in that mix an in that thought process of the Tennessee administration and Phil Fulmer," Spence said. "They were going to go through a process. They were going to finish their process much later and I felt that it was not fair the program and our players here to let that continue. I know I was going about my business like I was going to be a Clemson Tiger. That was my focus and has been my focus and has been my position since I was approached by the University of Tennessee."

The Knoxville News-Sentinal reported Thursday that Tennessee began negotiations with Detroit Lions wide receivers coach Kippy Brown the very day withdrew his name from consideration.

Tennessee paid former offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe $340,000 this season and had put roughly that same amount on the table for Spence, who, by comparison, made only $207,000 this season.

"I deeply, deeply love the players that I coach," Spence said. "I can't say that enough. The people that I work with every single day that make a difference in my life that make it worthwhile are the people that I look at every single day on the field. That's my classroom. We have a unique group of players that I have been associated with this year. I owe them my very best because I know they've given their very, very best."

After the press conference, Spence refused to answer any more questions about Tennessee and his decision to stay. He was asked why he even went to Knoxville now instead of waiting until after the season like he had in all of his previous interviews.

He also wouldn't say whether or not his family played a role in the decision making.

"The only thing that I prayed about in my dealings with Tennessee is No. 1 that I do what would honor God and Jesus Christ in everything that I say and do in my prayers," Spence said. "I hope you right that down because that's what's really first and foremost in my life. I really felt God had opened a door for me to investigate and look at and that's why I did what I did.

"I'm flattered and thankful for what I have here. I have a wonderful head football coach that has great faith in me and trust in me and a bunch of great players that I work with day in and day out and a program that I believe in deeply."

Center Thomas Austin said he's thankful Spence will continue to be his coach.

"Obviously as a player you like to hear that," he said. "It's good to have Coach Spence back for a couple more years. I'm privileged to play for him and I know guys on the team are excited about with what we have coming back next year and what we have in store for us in the future and the Clemson program in general.

"So it's good to have coaches that believe in the program and believe in the institution and believe in the players because it's exciting to see what we can do in the future."

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