After Danny Ford’s era came years that were actually fairly good, ending with a significant bowl win in 1991against West Virginia. It was not up to the standards to which the school and fans had become accustomed but acceptable. Fans were still not over the Ford era. Still, the fans may have been somewhat dissatisfied, but they were loyal and faithful to the school and the program. There was great expectation when Tommy Bowden came in as our coach in 1999. He was the son of the legendary Bobby Bowden at Florida State. The annual contests between Clemson and Florida State became known as the Bowden Bowl. We had some great moments, but the magic was still not there. Late in his tenure, the teams just didn’t produce.
The talent was good so what was the problem? Of course, the answer for the fans was coaching. And, it may have been. Great coaches are special people. Recruiting players is a critical function of good coaching. Being able to spot talent as well as going after proven talent is paramount to building great programs. Coaching is hiring the right assistant coaches and leading them to be the best. It is a combination of management of the program and the ability to inspire a group of 18-22 year old kids that they can excel. It’s getting the best out of both coaches and players. Game plans, coaching and concentrated practice determine success.
It is not an easy process and certainly not a guaranteed future for anybody, coaches or players. Athletic Directors are constantly trying to improve their programs and sometimes it requires taking a big chance. That is exactly what happened when the then AD at Clemson selected Dabo Swinney, a relative unknown in the coaching ranks, to replace Tommy Bowden in the middle of the season in 2008. It was a crucial selection both for the AD and the coach. And what a selection it was! More in the next post…….Joe Parks, Realtorparksjoe6@gmail.com
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