How does he do it? How does Tommy Bowden, year after year, find way to lose games he has no business losing? The ACC's most talented squad and prohibitive favorite before the year began is now fighting to avoid a bowl game west of the Mississippi River.
Saturday was another baffling loss, as a double-digit favorite to a scrappy Maryland sqaud, by a score of 20-17.
If you had the misfortune as a Clemson fan of watching this game, you witnessed Bowden and his staff snatching a loss from the hands of victory.
Up, 17-6, at the half in spite of three turnovers, the Clemson offensive line was playing its best game of the season. Nearly 200 yds of rushing with CJ Spiller and James Davis running at will between the tackles gaining five, six, seven yards a pop.
The defensive line was swallowing up the Maryland rushing game, and Terps quarterback Chris Turner was running for his life, while uber wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was dropping passes. Clemson should have been up at least three touchdowns, but the game still looked in hand.
A funny thing happened at halftime: The Clemson coaching staff somehow managed to stifle its own offense in some of the most bizarre play-calling I've witnessed in recent years. Bowden and offensive coordinator Rob Spence inexplicably went away from the power running game and began a series of east/west runs and screens that the Maryland defense easily diagnosed and stuffed.
Rolling out immobile quarterback Cullen Harper further left 80,000 Clemson fans in disbelief. With all due respect to Harper, a decent quarterback, either leave Harper in the pocket or replace him with the better-running Willie Korn.
Bowden, during his postgame radio show, took no responsibility for the loss, as he only mentioned that his players failed to execute the called plays. Any average fan could see that Bowden and his staff handcuffed a team that was clearly dominating this game.
Sadly, after 10 years, Bowden has reached the ceiling of how far he can take the Clemson Tigers. They will always be a 7-9 wins a year team because of Bowden's skill as a recruiter, but nothing more.
The group of coaches that Bowden came in with—Chuck Amato at NC State, Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech, Jim Bunting at UNC—have all been fired, after each with limited success never elevated the level of their programs. Al Groh will soon join that group, as his Virginia Cavaliers might be one of the 10 worst teams in college football this season.
Tiger fans cut your losses and start over...Even if Bowden beats South Carolina again, maybe FSU or Georgia Tech, and finishes 8-4 or 9-3, this is the best your program will ever be, and if his recruiting slips, it will be even worse. Tommy Bowden will never produce ACC Championship football that a proud program like yours deserves.
Let Tommy go...