Bowden's Exit Starts the Coaching Carousel

Tommy Bowden spent nine and a half seasons at Clemson, going to bowls every year except for when the school refused to accept a bid as punishment for a brawl during the season's final game. Just ten months ago he signed a contract extension which was to keep him at the school through 2014. Instead, Bowden barely made it to Columbus Day.

Bowden's "resignation" came on October 13. That's 13 days earlier than Ron Zook's dismissal by Florida four years ago, and nine days earlier than when North Carolina showed John Bunting the door in 2006. There may be a significant difference in Clemson's approach to their situation from what occurred at those schools.

Zook and Bunting each finished their regular seasons while coaching searches for their replacements were underway. Clemson is giving receivers coach Dabo Swinney the opportunity to serve as interim coach and potentially earn the permanent job for himself. Swinney has been considered one of the top recruiters on Bowden's staff, so this may be a way to try and convince some of the highly regarded prospects who had already selected the Tigers not to jump ship yet.

Recruiting was the one thing Clemson has consistently done well under Bowden. In the end, being too successful at it is a big part of what cost him his job. When a coach consistently accumulates highly touted talent and never delivers even a division championship, people eventually conclude the thing keeping it from happening must be the coaching. The Tigers have already lost several high profile commitments, and their entire class will now be up for grabs while Swinney gets his audition.

This year's Clemson team features the top three preseason vote getters for ACC Player of the Year. Bowden's last decision as head coach was to announce he was benching quarterback Cullen Harper, the player who was chosen for the honor, in favor of highly touted redshirt freshman Willy Korn. Bowden was trying to use a scapegoat to take the heat off of him, something he'd done successfully multiple times before. This time the potential of future success wasn't enough to dissuade Clemson's fanbase or AD from making a change on the sideline.

Tommy Bowden will certainly not be the last coach to move on this season. He might not even be the last Bowden, as Bobby's future involvement at FSU remains an open question. Syracuse and Washington are the two most obvious impending changes, and other coaches like Mike Stoops at Arizona and Virginia's Al Groh have plenty to be nervous about as well.

Right now there seem to be fewer current head coaches who are considered hot job candidates than in previous years, nor is there a Steve Spurrier or Butch Davis "slam dunk" hire eager to return to college football. Florida's staff has several coaches whose names could surface with different jobs in the coming weeks, particularly assistant head coach Dan McCarney (thanks to his dozen years as Iowa State's head coach) and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.


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