NOTES: Bowden - Tuberville Press Conference

ATLANTA – With practices and players off limits to the media on the last day before No. 15 Clemson and No. 22 Auburn do battle in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the two head coaches sat together and addressed questions for some 30 minutes.

Here are some of the highlights of Sunday morning's press conference.

* Before the two coaches fielded a single question from the press, each coach was asked to tell what was different about this bowl experience compared to others. And while Clemson's Tommy Bowden likes to joke a lot, he gave a realistic answer that is genuinely true.

"This is an ideal situation, even from a playing standpoint," he said. "And from a fan's standpoint, you travel and you're guaranteed you're going to have good weather. When you include the whole ball of wax and what the city of Atlanta has to offer (it's a great situation)."

* Right at the beginning, somebody's cell phone was ringing rather loudly and no one answered it. Annoyed by it all, a television cameraman blurted out, "Would somebody answer that phone?" At that point, Bowden reached into his coat pocket and checked his to see if his was the one ringing. It wasn't.

* Auburn's Tommy Tuberville announced that starting senior left tackle King Dunlap, who is a monster at 6-foot-8, 312 pounds, has a high ankle sprain and will be replaced by true freshman Ryan Pugh, who is smaller at 6-4, 282 pounds.

* The usual travel squad for Auburn will leave the official team hotel and spend the night in an unannounced hotel so the team can get away from all the hoopla and fans and focus in on the task at hand. Tuberville said he will ask each senior to stand before the ground and reflect on their experiences on The Plains.

* Clemson tailback James Davis has made it rather public that his decision on whether or not to leave early for the NFL could hinge on how many carries he gets this game and how he is used overall. Bowden said that doesn't concern him in the slightest.

"It doesn't bother me at all," he said. "You want skill people to be active and want the ball and have the opportunity to show what they're worth. It doesn't bother me at all. I've been around James for three and a half years and I know exactly what he means.

* Other than Davis, the candidate that seems most likely to jump to the NFL is safety Michael Hamlin, who has stated several times that a third-round projection would cause him to think long and hard about his future. Bowden doesn't believe Hamlin is going anywhere.

"I doubt it's his last game from what he told me," he said.

* Tuberville and Bowden each agreed that winning for the sake of helping their respective conference's reputation is not even a thought.

"We don't talk about it much because there's enough pressure on these kids to begin with," Tuberville said. "Playing for the conference is an afterthought."

Added Bowden: "We don't talk about it a lot because most (of the media) does that and most of my guys can read."

* It appears that Clemson will indeed play Alabama in Atlanta to open the 2008 season, however there's speculation that one reason it has taken awhile to get the agreement done is because Bowden doesn't want to play the game. Bowden has made it very clear in the past that he'd rather play teams like Furman as opposed to a big non-conference game.

When asked his views on it, he wouldn't say anything about it, even though the Chick-fil-A Bowl executives, who were standing in the room, are the ones putting the game together. His refusal left several people scratching their collective heads, including the bowl officials.

"I don't know if (the game) has been finalized or not … therefore it's kind of hard to comment on it," Bowden said. "I'll have a comment once it's finalized."

* Compared to the 2003 team that beat Tennessee in the same bowl, Bowden said this Clemson team is better.

"I'd say we have a little more depth and a little more talent than we did last time," he said. "The biggest thing would be the depth and the quality of the depth because recruiting has elevated over the last few years." Top Stories