One Bowden was trying to save his job, and another was trying to
keep his national-title chances alive. But the most stressed-out
member of the Bowden family last Saturday was probably Ann, who
was sitting in the stands at Clemson's Memorial Stadium. "I'm
just happy for my mom [that it's over]," Tigers coach Tommy
Bowden said after his team beat his father's Florida State team
for the first time in five tries, 26-10. "These
Bowden-versus-Bowden games are always tough on her."
Although her loyalties might be divided, even Ann would have to
agree that Tommy needed the victory more than her husband. After
Clemson's 45-17 loss to Wake Forest on Nov. 1, speculation had
intensified that Tommy, whose contract runs through 2007, would
be fired unless the Tigers finished strong. The school
administration had done nothing to quiet those whispers.
The Clemson players responded by dominating the No. 3 Seminoles.
The Tigers (6-4) stuffed the Florida State running game, holding
the Seminoles to 11 yards on the ground, and forced three
turnovers, a remarkable turnaround for a defense that Wake Forest
had steamrolled for 321 rushing yards. "It may sound crazy, but
we actually match up better against Florida State than we do Wake
because Wake does some very unconventional things," Tommy said.
For the elder Bowden, the loss effectively ended his team's
national championship hopes in addition to putting a damper on
his 74th birthday. He made sure to quash any notion that he had
taken it easy on his son in light of Tommy's precarious
situation, but he added some praise for him. "They had a great
plan," Bobby said. "It was like they had an off week to prepare,
but they didn't."
November 17, 2003
After the game, Tommy refused to discuss his job security.
"That's really a matter for [the administration] to decide," he
said. The talk will undoubtedly continue. When the two Bowdens
met at midfield, Bobby embraced his son and said,
"Congratulations. This ought to make your job safe for another
He was joking, but only partly. "You're only as good as your next
game," Tommy says. "That's one thing I learned from my
dad." --Phil Taylor
More college football coverage at si.com/football/ncaa.