PHILLIPS: Economy Shouldn't Impact Search

ANDERSON, S.C. - Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips spoke about Clemson's coaching search and a number of other important topics Friday afternoon. CUTigers.com has an exclusive report inside...

While speaking at the Anderson Touchdown Club Friday, Terry Don Phillips spoke in detail on a number of topics regarding Clemson's coaching search. Here are the highlights of his 65-minute discussion:

* Phillips commented about the economy and how it would impact the coaching search and said the following:

"I visited with President Barker on that issue," he said. "Certainly this is not the best time to be searching for a head coach. And the market has increased substantially in the past few years. It is pricey when it comes to hiring a coach.

"Fortunately in the last six years we've been able to establish good reserves in the athletic department and we are on sound financial footing.

"Depending on how we head in this situation with what we need to do, we are in financially good shape where we can make a decision. We want to be responsible in our financial decision but we could make that decision if we needed to because we are on sound financial footing. We are very fortunate to have great support. We are blessed with support and in the last six years we have been able to develop reserves which give us room to breathe financially."

In other words, Clemson should be in position to compete with other schools also looking for a head coach, if necessary.

He also confirmed the new head coach is paid from athletic funds, not institutional funds."

* Phillips also said he had a conversation with ESPN analyst Andre Ware, who suggested in a Clemson broadcast last month Phillips should not be on the sidelines during games.

"I did have a conversation with Andre," he said. "I try to do my business before the game. What I try to do is mix and mingle but sometimes it's really difficult to talk with individuals about planting a tree on campus, or something else on campus and it's fourth-and-inches for your football team. ...

"I always enjoy going down on the field but I stay out of the coaches' way. But I tell people if I knew what was I doing when I was coaching I'd still be coaching."

"Andre took exception to what I did and I got myself in trouble on ESPN. I had to call the commissioner of the conference (John Swofford) to apologize for talking at the officials like that and I don't need to do that. That was poor on my part.

"Quite frankly I did embarrass myself. I looked at the video replay and can see why Andre could draw the conclusions he did. Those are the kinds of things an Athletic Director simply can't be doing."

* CUTigers.com posed the question to Phillips on whether or not he'd place more value on a head coaching candidate that has head coaching experience, compared to a coach that has only been an assistant up to this point in his career.

Phillips went into detail about his experiences at Oklahoma State in hiring Les Miles, who was then the tight ends coach with the Dallas Cowboys, but was actually No. 2 on his final list of candidates behind Dirk Koetter, who was the head coach at Boise State at the time.

Koetter originally accepted the position at Oklahoma State, only to back out several hours later to take the head coaching position at Arizona State.

Phillips then turned to Miles, who is now the head coach at LSU and won the National Championship last year.

Ultimately he responded to the question by saying, "I think you keep the door open across the board. I don't think you limit yourself at all. You have to keep your options open all across the board."

* Phillips reiterated Friday there remains a sense of urgency in regards to the coaching search.

"We'd like to think that within a week to 10 days after the regular season we will have a head coach named so that we can get back in recruiting and firm it up.

"That's why I'm visiting with people as we speak. It is important that we work with a sense of urgency."

* Phillips said it didn't matter what kind of scheme the new head coach had, only discussing generalities when it came to both sides of the ball.

He did say this, however, "I really mean what I said when I said I honestly don't care if they stand on their head. If they play hard and we put a team out on the field that people enjoy watching and the kids play hard and give great effort.

"There's more than one way to skin a cat. So you don't try to get into that trying to dictate what you want them to do."

He also went on to add the new head coach has to "fit" with the current culture at Clemson.

"I think you can get a good feel by visiting with individuals on how they would fit in your place. Clemson is a great place and we have a blue collar mentality and I say that proudly.

"You have to have a person you believe would fit in that culture and be comfortable in that culture. I think we have a very comfortable culture. Those are things that become instinct. That becomes intuitive."

* When asked specifically about current coach Dabo Swinney, Phillips seemingly gave his interim head man a boost of confidence, but again made no promises.

"He's got a good shot. That's probably more than I should have said but he's a fine young man and a special coach. I'm very proud of what he's done. He's got a shot at it.

"Some water has to go over that dam to see where we are."

He also said former head coach Tommy Bowden was the one that suggested to "give Dabo a chance" on the day Bowden resigned on Oct. 13.

* Lastly, one fan actually asked the question to Terry Don Phillips if he should resign because he signed Tommy Bowden to a long-term deal with a $4.0 million buyout last December only to fire him six games into the 2008 season.

Phillips responded by saying it was a good question and he would ask the same thing as a fan. He then discussed in detail how Bowden was being offered more money at Arkansas at the time and that Bowden could have made more money in previous years.

He then said at the time he thought Bowden was Clemson's quickest path to the Orange Bowl, especially given the state of the ACC and the number of players returning, but that ultimately, "I thought the quickest way for us to achieve those goals was to keep the staff intact. ... I was wrong."

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