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Bowden Considers Leaving Tulane

At Tulane, the wait is on.

The school's celebration of its undefeated season and preparations for the Liberty Bowl have taken a back seat to questions of what coach Tommy Bowden will do.

"I'll probably make the decision by the middle of the week," Bowden said Sunday. "There are still some things to do."

Bowden met with Clemson athletic director Bobby Robinson on Friday. He also met with another school but declined to say which one, although South Carolina had been scheduled to interview Bowden Saturday.

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Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was expected to interview at Clemson on Sunday. Breamer has a connection to Clemson President Deno Curris, who hired him to coach Murray State in 1981.

Bowden and Beamer are considered the top two candidates for the Clemson job.

Bowden said he would meet with Tulane officials again before making his decision, but refused to say when that meeting would take place.

"I think in fairness to everybody we should get this behind us," he said.

Bowden met with Tulane athletic director Sandy Barbour before talking to Robinson on Friday. Tulane made a strong pitch to keep him, reportedly offering to build a new practice facility and match whatever package Clemson offered Bowden. That could be near $750,000 a year, according to a report in the Times-Picayune newspaper on Sunday.

"The money part is private," Bowden said. "But the deciding factors aren't clear cut. If they were, the decision would already be made."

After 19 years as an assistant coach at nine schools, Bowden became a hot coaching property by turning the perpetually poor Tulane program -- unranked since Dec. 3, 1979 -- into a winner his first year, and running off an 11-0 record and No. 9 ranking in his second.

Tulane also won the Conference USA, its first conference title since 1949, and will play in the Liberty Bowl, its first bowl game since 1987.

"Hard to follow? That's an understatement," Bowden said. "It's impossible to top it and pretty darn hard to follow it period. It'd be awfully difficult."

Bowden, who was 7-4 last season, has four years remaining in his contract.

There has been speculation that Bowden would like to move to a school that would have a better chancof winning a national championship.

Tulane has high academic standards for players, and its rules for awarding scholarships are tougher than the NCAA's rules. Bowden lost four players this season who were academically eligible according to NCAA guidelines, but not by Tulane's standards.

"You can win a national championship at Tulane. It would take 15, 20 years, well maybe 10," said Bowden, 44. "Daddy didn't win one until he was 60, so I'd be ahead of him."

Daddy is Bobby Bowden, who turned Florida State from a loser into a national champion.

"It'd be a little harder at Tulane than it was at Florida State," Tommy Bowden said. "But it could be done."

Moving to Clemson would put Tommy Bowden in the Atlantic Coast Conference and into competition against Florida State and his father.

"I've never done that," Bowden said. "It's an entertaining thought though, isn't it? It would be a lot of fun."

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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