UPDATED: Not so fast, Tommy Bowden

by Jim Harris  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 11:00 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

UPDATED, 11:07 a.m. Tuesday: Looks like Bowden is staying put. 

Original post: Arkansas is now going after a coach named Tommy to take over the football program, but the last name is not Tuberville.

From all indications, the Hogs are focused on Clemson's Tommy Bowden. Yes, he's the same guy who 10 years ago turned down Arkansas' offer to interview for the job that opened when Danny Ford was fired. Bowden, son of the legendary Bobby Bowden at Florida State, was at Tulane then, and was on the way to finishing up a 12-0 season, sort of like what Hawaii's accomplished this year, only he did it in New Orleans.

Bowden signed on after the next season to be the Clemson coach, where Danny Ford once won a national championship and reigned supreme for 11 seasons. Then -- after Danny was sent packing by a new Clemson president who got crossways with the ol' cow farmer -- came Ken Hatfield, straight from Arkansas and back-to-back 10-win seasons for the Hogs, and then Tommy West, who's now at Memphis, when Hatfield was banished to Rice by the demanding Clemson fans. And when West faltered, Clemson turned to Bowden to resurrect its glory.

Only, if you look at the record, Bowden seems to have accomplished in the Atlantic Coast Conference pretty much the same type record that people were getting disenchanted with the past few years with Houston Nutt: Winning around 60 percent of his games, failing to win the conference championship, plodding along with a straight-ahead running game, rarely winning the big games.

Anyhow, the Razorback Foundation board was to discuss Bowden on Monday night and the financial package it could offer him, but that meeting was postponed until 9 a.m. The board will meet by conference call. After they decide on the financials to be added to the base salary paid to the coach by the state, the ball, according to the key sources, will be in Bowden's court. It's expected that Bowden would have already told Jeff Long yes when the Foundation board meets.

So, we should know something by mid-day at the latest.

Word also is that key members of the Board of Trustees who are heavily involved in athletics are not pleased that incoming athletic dirctor Jeff Long has settled on Bowden. The two were assistant coaches at Duke in the 1980s, so they at least know each other.

There are rumblings that some of the BOT might favor -- yes -- Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, two years' removed from high school. We assume at least one of these trustees played under Frank Broyles, who swore he'd only hire men with college head coaching experience and veered from that formula only once, with disastrous results. That would be Jack Crowe, whose last job before coming to Arkansas was calling offensive plays at -- yes -- Clemson. By the way, you do know that Clemson athletic director is former Hog player and Broyles protege Terry Don Phillips, right?

Arkansas has also interviewed Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English, who would fall under "token minority interview," though we'll say Arkansas could do a lot, lot worse than hiring Ron English as head coach. Nobody around here knows anything about him, though. First thing out of every yahoo's mouth is "I don't want the guy whose defense couldn't stop Appalachian State."

So, where is Tommy Tuberville or Butch Davis?

We believe that, on Davis, the first-year coach at North Carolina and Springdale native doesn't want to leave the Tar Heels after one season, he only wants to coach college football five years tops, and he personally may have concerns about the cancer that was treated in the past year and is said to be in remission.

As for Tuberville, Arkansas officials may have decided they simply don't want to send Auburn $6 million in ransom money to buy out Tuberville's contract when that money can be better spent here, and then it would cost well upwards of $3 million annually to a guy they could have hired for $800,000 just 10 years ago. Plus, the Razorback Foundation funding arm of athletics just parted with more than $3 million to send Houston Nutt away. We're still certain that many of the "old-time" Razorback heroes were first in favor of Long and the Hogs going after Tuberville. But Auburn isn't in any hurry to erase Tuberville's buyout, especially to lose him to a conference rival school.

Now, maybe if UA chancellor John White were running things at Auburn, this might be worked out easily, buyout clauses forgiven, and Arkansas even paid to take the coach.



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