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"We both understood the conference championship was critically important," Phillips said.
The departure ends a season of harsh criticism for Bowden, who on Friday announced he was switching quarterbacks from Cullen Harper to Willy Korn. The displeasure of the Tiger faithful was familiar.
In 2000, the Tigers started 8-0 and rose to fifth in the country, only to lose three of their final four games. Four years later, Clemson followed its nine-win 2003 with a 1-4 start.
Two years ago, the Tigers looked like the class of ACC. They opened 7-1, only to go on a 1-4 closing slide that included an unexpected, 13-12 home loss to Maryland.
Clemson won nine games last season and, with experienced skill players on offense, figured to be the league's powerhouse this fall. Harper was picked this summer as favorite to win the ACC player of the year and the Tigers to win their first league crown since 1991.
"He's thankful for the experience he got there at Clemson," Bobby Bowden said. "He has no hard feelings towards them. This is just the nature of this game right now. He's disappointed but he's got his priorities in order in his life so he'll move on and won't lose a minute of sleep over it. At least I don't have to worry about him beating me again."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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