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December 1, 2003Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden has been named ACC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. It is the second time Bowden has won the award in his five years at Clemson. He finished first in the voting ahead of his father, Bobby Bowden, the head coach of ACC Champion Florida State.
Clemson finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, including a 5-3 mark and third place finish in the ACC. The Tigers were picked fifth in the preseason rankings by ACSMA. The Tigers finished the season strong with consecutive victories over Florida State, Duke and at South Carolina. Clemson outscored those three programs by a 129-34 score.
Clemson's 26-10 win over third ranked Florida State was Clemson's first win over the Seminoles since 1989 and it was the highest ranked team Clemson has beaten in school history. The 63-17 win at South Carolina was the most points Clemson has ever scored against the Gamecocks and the 46-point victory margin was the most by Clemson over the Gamecocks since 1900.
With the victory over South Carolina, Bowden became the first coach in NCAA history to defeat two 200-win or better coaches in the same month. His father had over 300 wins entering the game and Lou Holtz had over 200 entering the Clemson vs. South Carolina game. Both coaches are ranked among the top 10 winningest coaches in Division I history.
Earlier in the year Clemson defeated Georgia Tech 39-3 in Atlanta, the largest margin of victory for Clemson in that series since 1900. Clemson also defeated a bowl bound and top 25 Virginia team 30-27 in overtime on October 11.
With Clemson's selection to the Peach Bowl, Bowden becomes the first coach in ACC history to take a league team to a bowl game in each of his first five years with a program.
Clemson showed great improvement over the course of the season and as compared to last year. Clemson finished the regular season second in the ACC in total offense and third in total defense, joining ACC Champion Florida State as the only two teams to finish in the top three in the league in both areas.
Off the field, Clemson has graduated 47 of 59 (80 percent) scholarship seniors in Bowden's first four years and four of those student-athletes are still in school. Additionally, eight of the 16 scholarship seniors on the 2003 team have already graduated and the remaining eight are on pace to graduate by May. Earlier this year Clemson ranked 11th in the nation, second among public institutions in the NCAA graduation rate study for scholarship football signees who entered Clemson in 1999. The retention rate for his five years of signees is 91 percent, better than the University's 89.5 percent retention rate for all students.
"This award is a testament to our players and assistant coaches," said Bowden. "I am especially proud of the senior leadership we have had this year. We are a young team with 16 starters returning for next year, but it was the seniors who would not let up or let the team get down when times were tough.
"It is a great honor, because this is a very competitive league with outstanding coaches. "
Bowden now joins Frank Howard and Charley Pell as the only two-time Clemson recipients of the ACC Coach of the Year Award. Howard won the honor in 1958 and 1966, while Pell won it in consecutive years, 1977 and 1978. Danny Ford (1981) and Red Parker (1974) also were recipients of the ACC Coach of the Year Award. Clemson now has had more ACC Coach of the Year selections than any other league team with eight.