Well before the season started, it was easy to see just how Clemson was going to fall short of the ridiculous preseason expectations. The weak offensive line and the chronic inability to avoid dumb losses would come back and haunt them.
But to the point of creating the first job opening in major-college football? Less than a year after Tommy Bowden signed a lucrative and well-protected contract extension? That’s a bit more unanticipated.
(For much more context than I could ever hope to provide, be sure to keep track of Larry Williams‘ blog at the Charleston Post and Courier).
I’m not 100 percent sure of this, but I think this is the earliest firing in ACC history. North Carolina ditched John Bunting on Oct. 22, 2006, but let him coach out the season. Duke dismissed Carl Franks on Oct. 19, 2003, and sent him on his way immediately.
Just consider all the disasters and potential disasters across the country this season. The sinking ships at Syracuse and Washington come to mind, but things have looked bleak in varying degrees at Maryland, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Virginia.
This is the biggest of them all, and it’s created a fascinating change.
Think about this timeline. Clemson is 3-1 and has distanced itself a bit from its opening loss to Alabama. That was just three weeks ago.
Then came all sorts of insanity. The implosion against Maryland, the Tigers’ seventh loss as a ranked team to an unranked opponent at home under Bowden. The 12-7 egg at Wake Forest. The knee-jerk replacement of Cullen Harper with Willy Korn, a decision that clearly had players choosing their words carefully last night. And now this.
While rolling out of Clemson just 17 days ago, there was a sense the beginning of the end for Bowden’s tenure had commenced.
That the end arrived so soon, though, goes down for now as one of college football’s big surprises this season.