Clemson athletics depends upon it.
When TDP was hired, I honestly thanked God, because I felt that we had finally gotten rid of poor leadership in the department fostered by the useless Bobby Robinson for over 15 years. The former golf coach did absolutely nothing for Clemson’s facilities during his tenure, aside from trying to sell us on our "indoor track/practice facility" which is nothing of the sort. Whether Max Lennon was the true culprit behind Ford’s dismissal or not, Robinson was there and was complicit in my mind even through his inaction, and always will be.
TDP did come in here with a plan, and during his talks with Barker in period after joining CU, they together came up with the project for the football stadium known as a "Heritage Building", which later morphed into the WEZ and an addition to the stadium. He did get together the planning and fundraising project to put it together, and our facilities in the big 3 began improving immediately after he was hired. When I began my time as a student the baseball stadium was two large sections of concrete and bleachers. Littlejohn was in the same square metal shape it had been in for quite some time, and Death Valley had remained unchanged since the addition of the 2nd upper deck section in the 80s.
Before I left, they had reconfigured the inside of Littlejohn to its current state, bricked the outside with new landscaping, and added the Annex with new weight room areas. They had redone the wrought-iron railing and bricked around Death Valley’s perimeter, and redone the sidewalks around it. Also, with the donation from Doug Kingsmore, they began redoing the entire baseball stadium in increments with brickwork and a cover for seated areas, new permanent seating down the field lines, and new concrete pathways around it. Tiger Field has continued to be incrementally improved since.
So it’s not like Phillips has done nothing at CU. When you compare him to Robinson he looks great in some respects.
But it seems to me that since the WEZ project, there has been no campaign to improve. I don’t hear or see of a vision to get things where they must be to compete. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to ever hear Phillips speak in public, even to go out on the stump for our IPTAY cash. He sends Billy D’Andrea in his stead if he sends anyone at all.When the WEZ Phase III details were released last spring, they cut it down and removed portions of the additions that were initially planned, and I have not seen any press releases on the subject since that week. I’ve not heard of it even being mentioned publicly, other than complaints that they removed the "oculus" from the plans. I’ve heard no word on the next football facility improvement after this one is done, which tells me there isn’t a plan for one, because you’d have to fundraise now to get anything finished within 2 years.
The only mention that I have heard of another basketball facility was immediately following the NCAA Tournament, and only via Purnell’s twitter, which said something was being planned for a basketball practice facility, since apparently the Annex was outdated as soon as it was finished. I never saw any public mention of it otherwise from the CUAD. No plans, no funding figures, nothing.
But why has little been said since? Where is the man out campaigning for funds and telling us his plan to improve Clemson sports in all areas? This is what we need to hear.
Tell me what it is, what it costs, how long it takes to build, what I must give to make it work, and how it compares to other facilities nationally. I want to see a plan, which requires the right leader, with a vision of where we need to be to compete every week. I haven’t heard that from Phillips since the ground broke on the WEZ.
There is never a guarantee that better facilities = better results. Nor does more support personnel = better results. All these things do is make it easier to compete for the staff (in any sport). If you have a bad year, it’ll be easier to recover when your facilities are good enough to attract the best recruits, and your Strength & Conditioning facilities are innovative and manned by enough personnel to push everyone to their limit.
The other area that I give criticism to Phillips is with his decisions concerning coaches, which is his most important duty in our eyes. TDP came in after Bowden was hired, and the initial extension after the whirlwind finish in 2003 is the only justifiable decision with respect to the football staff he has made. When Bowden’s name was dropped in the Arkansas hunt, Phillips negotiated an outrageously excessive buyout and new contract for him, even though Arkansas people repeatedly said that hiring Bowden was a "lateral move". Then he fired him halfway through the following season. Though TDP said that the contract was paid in full, we are still paying for this buyout. We have examined the budgets here, and there was no lump sum payment of over 4 million in the line-item budget. This tells me that either TDP lied about it, that Clemson essentially took out a bank loan to pay Bowden and is paying that off incrementally, or is paying Tommy directly in smaller payments.
We have heard numerous times that it was Barker who gave Phillips a direct order to extend Bowden’s contract, which I agree must be true, because you would not re-sign "your guy" to such a deal and then fire him within 10 months. However, Phillips negotiated the terms of the deal and bears the brunt of that responsibility.
Even more laughable is his decision to hire Dabo Swinney, a WR coach without experience running an offense, without insisting that the offensive staff that had caused Bowden’s departure be cleaned out and replaced with experienced people to shore up Swinney’s own experience deficiency. All this came after a farce of a coaching search, in which no one would confidently say that Swinney’s resume or experience matched up well with the likes of Gary Patterson or Troy Calhoun.
To our recollection (and archives), Mike Locksley (then Illinois-OC), Calhoun, Brent Venables (OU Def Coord), Lane Kiffin and Brady Hoke (then at undefeated Ball State) were contacted and interviewed for the position. Patterson did not formally interview for the job after hearing of our financial offer through his agent, and told us to call back after we were willing to pay big-boy money.
Then he beat us at home the next season, and now sits #3 in the BCS rankings with an outside shot of playing for a national title. Auburn, who hired Gene Chizik at the same time we hired Swinney, is currently in line to play for that national title.
In the arena of Men’s basketball, there are better things to say about Phillips. I think his decisions on this front have been good and turned out well for us. He finally got rid of Larry Shyatt and hired Oliver Purnell as his replacement. Purnell rebuilt the program up to a Tourney-level squad and he was given an extension that he frankly deserved to get at the time.
Then when Purnell left in the middle of the night for DePaul, Phillips made another farce of a coaching search. He interviewed several candidates for the job that no one had even heard of. A Tourney-level team in the ACC could’ve been coached by a guy who had won nothing anywhere, or even won a Tournament game for that matter. He settled initially on Rick Stansbury, who had done little in the comparatively-weak SEC West, but thankfully the MSU buyout clause prevented that hire. Phillips didn’t want to spend the money, and finally did settle on a candidate with X’s and O’s acumen and the ability to develop players in Brad Brownell. While the jury is officially out on this hire, I do believe it was a fair one.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for women’s basketball, or any other minor sport at Clemson. Jim Davis may not have been a great coach, but he got them into the Tournament pretty often. Women's basketball hasn't even had a winning record since 2002-03. Men's Track won numerous ACC and national honors in the 90s, and hasnt won the ACC Indoor since 2002, and the Outdoor since 2004. Our last national title in any team sport came from Golf in 2003. No other team has won the ACC championship since 2000, aside from Rowing. Soccer fell off the map since Y2K. Trevor Adair may have been railroaded out of town, though we have not and may not hear the full story. Phillips did not do the due diligence on the swimming program; apparently not knowing the rather minimal fiscal requirements on what it would take to compete, despite saying the fiscal situation was his primary drive to ending the program in the first place. Parents of the women's soccer team have recently threatened Clemson with lawsuits over the treatment of players under his watch.
The baseball program has been hampered, despite the facilities improvements paid for through donors and IPTAY, due to penny-pinching from the AD. Kyle Bunn wasn't given a car to recruit with and left, then they go get Dan Pepicelli and give him the car. EH? I've heard numerous rumors that Jack Leggett couldn't get a bucket of baseballs, or a new radar gun, and then he was handcuffed in his selection of assistants because of financial problems. Clemson is not broke, that much we've established here in several articles, though we are tight financially like most athletic programs. What I don't get is why the (arguably, with Penley) most successful coach on the campus can't get the things he needs to compete. My personal opinion of Jack Leggett aside, I can see no reason to ever handcuff him.
Throughout most of these financial discussions, the name Katie Hill is often mentioned. I personally have no problem with Mrs. Hill, who is effectively the CFO of the AD. Anyone who controls the purse strings, wants to save money, and says "no" when it comes to your budget gets a negative image. Anyone reading this with business experience knows that to be true. The true fault lies with Terry Don Phillips. Its his prerogative to overrule in situations, and not allow her to spend cash on PS3s for the WEZ (yes this actually was spent, according to the budget) when Jack Leggett needs a $100 bucket of baseballs or a new radar gun.
Can you believe that the sports program as a whole did better under Bobby Robinson than it does now under Phillips?
But the bottom line here at CU still comes back to football. TDP said when he picked Dabo for this job that he will sink or swim with Coach Swinney. Well, Dabo just sank. Terry Don Phillips must not be allowed to name the next coach at Clemson, and his lack of direction in all sports proves his judgement is faulty. A new AD must be named this winter and given time to evaluate and create a plan to get Clemson where it should be.
Terry Don Phillips must go now.