Tommy Bowden's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden addresses the media as the No. 9 Tigers prepare for No. 24 Alabama.

Your memories of Alabama while you were there?
Bowden: Very good. I think we won eight, nine and 10 games and possibly 11. I still have a good friends there. If you are born and raised in the south, Alabama and Auburn are too great places.

Is there any place more passionate about football than Alabama?
Bowden: Probably not. I think Alabama and Notre Dame have the most national championships. It's a very high level of interest [with both programs].

This is the second year you've opened up with a high-intensity opponent. Would that be your preference or would you like to open up with a softer schedule?
Bowden: I think if most coaches have their preference, if a coach had a choice, who they'd open with [it would be a lesser opponent]. But you throw in the factor of a nationally televised game against a quality opponent and the ability for us to have the kind of exposure we'll get. All things being equal if you take that off the board, I'm kind of like all other coaches in the history of the game and would like to open up with a little bit less of an opponent. There's minimal room for margin of error [against Alabama].

Would you rather play this kind of game at home instead of a neutral site?
Bowden: I like Atlanta. It's my second favorite city behind Clemson. Clemson is my favorite city. I'd rather have a home game though, than neutral.

From your standpoint, Is it pressure or respect being ranked No. 9 in the preseason?
Bowden: It's kind of like playing Monopoly with monopoly money. You've got a big stack but it doesn't mean anything. What we've challenged our team to do is see if it can create a sense of urgency to defend that ranking and let's see if they do that. We've never been in this position where we've got something they want. We are No. 9, they are No. 25. How the team responds to that is awfully important but we won't really know how they'll respond until they play.

But what about the pressure on you personally considering where your team is right now and what is expected of it?
Bowden: The objective in this profession is to win. Win conference championships and win national championships and I've done neither. Coach Spurrier, Coach Saban, Coach Fulmer, they've won National Championships

Have you ever coached with or against Nick Saban?
Bowden: I've never coached with him and never had anybody on my staff that has coached with him. I know some coaches on his staff, other than Burton Burns. There's some connections, but nothing direct.

How would you describe your personal confidence in the offensive line on a scale of one to 10?
Bowden: I'd say somewhere between five and seven. Anytime you play a game like this with an inexperienced line you don't have a high comfort level. Last year we did the same thing. We had four new starters that were a little bit older.

Talk about the importance of running the football in this game.
Bowden: You'd like to be able to do it but the most important thing is to win. I don't care if we do it running or passing. It's easier to do it running because of execution. The quarterback can turn around and hand the ball to the running back as opposed to throwing it downfield. So if you can run it, it's usually better but that may not be what wins us the game.

For the Atlanta guys, like James Davis, Aaron Kelly and Cullen Harper, does this game hold especial importance?
Bowden: Maybe, but some things would be ahead of that. Those are seniors that want to play well and know if they play well, James said he came back to compete for a championship, and the best chance for a championship is to win the game. So they want to win for that reason.

How important is this game for this program?
Bowden: It's a 12 game schedule, and when you talk to the team, you have to keep that in perspective whether you win or lose. One game is not very significant if you win or lose. LSU proved that last year with two losses and winning a national championship. Monday's meeting with the team [after the game] will be awfully important. Is it easier to practice after a win than a loss? Yes. So in that regard it makes winning important.

Do you remember when your dad almost got the job at Alabama?
Bowden: I was in the room when he got back from the interview. He came in and slammed the door and said it's going to somebody else. He played in a bowl game in Birmingham at the time against Indiana and were there. We didn't go to a bowl that year at Duke so I was at his.

Was he disappointed he didn't get it?
Bowden: He probably was surprised.

The game is the true test for the team. How do yo
Bowden: We have a large number of upperclassmen. We have 49 lettermen. We've got a lot of guys that played and a lot of guys that have come close. We've got some seniors who have won nine games. The thing I want to see is how bad do they want success? I like the guys- like [Mike] Hamlin and [Cullen] Harper, and some juniors who have played. I like the chemistry and the makeup of the team.

How different do you think Alabama's offense will be with a new coordinator this season?
Bowden: Not really. Coach Saban's philosophy as a head coach is being a defensive coordinator guy and NFL guy is run, run-action pass and go into the shotgun with multiple wide receivers. They'll be a little bit different, but not a whole lot. It's not like what you see at Texas Tech or West Virginia.

Did you watch a lot of Fresno State film this offseason in preparing for the game considering the new coordinator came from there? (Jim McElwain]
Bowden: Oh yes. Yes. It's similar. There will be more of a difference with the tight ends and movement but they'll do a lot of run, run-action pass.

What do you think about Vic Koenning's comments about Julio Jones getting out of an Escalade? Have you spoken with him about it?
Bowden: No I haven't spoken with him. I've recruited the state of Alabama for 10 years and never had a problem with either Alabama or Auburn. The guy made an off-the-cuff comment. But if we would have had some bad blood in the past … [it would be different].

What does Dabo Swinney bring to the table as a coach?
Bowden: Well C.J. Spiller, Jamie Harper and Antoine McClain. Coach Saban tried to hire him a couple of times. Kind of the whole package when you look at coaches. Guys that are interested in advancing in the profession- he's got the total package. His wife, Kathleen and his family. Relationships, etc. He has all the things that are necessary and that's what other coaches who have talked to him about hiring have said. Recruiting is awfully important and surely that's something he's above average at.

What is your relationship with Coach Burns?
Bowden: He calls every other day wanting to come back. (laughing) Sorry Burton. I hope Coach Saban doesn't hear this. Burton was one of my first hires when I went to Tulane. A lot of you guys know him. He never meets a stranger. Great family. His wife and mom and dad. He was original staff so he's kind of special to me and I'm really appreciative of what he's done for me and my career. Coach Saban tried to hire him at LSU so it wasn't the first time he tried to hire him.

Which freshmen will play for you this year?
Bowden: The ones we have mentioned- Da'Quan Bowers, a receiver, a snapper, a punter, two tailbacks, Stanley Hunter- a linebacker, an offensive lineman- Antoine McClain. Probably eight to 10 to 11. Probably about as many as Alabama.

Any update on Jamie Harper?
Bowden: He was upgraded to a green jersey yesterday. Still listed as questionable for this game.

When do you decide on your punter and do you plan to kick away from their return guys who seem to be pretty effective?
Bowden: Well, the punter we will probably name during pre-game warm-ups. We'll name that later. If I was planning to kick away from him, I surely wouldn't say because they would have three days to make an adjustment.

What does this game mean to Dabo Swinney?
Bowden: It's a normal game for him until after the game. Once the game starts and all of that … [it's the same]. He's been doing it for a long time and he's familiar with all the distractions that come along with big games. Once the game starts, it's just another game. After the game, he'll either get a lot of calls from Alabama people or he's going to be one doing the calling.

Any update on DeAndre McDaniel?
Bowden: Should have something by the end of the week. Top Stories