clay's story on terry don

wonder where the university would be now if terry don phillips had been hired as broyle’s replacement?would the facilities be as they are?would the football program be in better shape?was there any mutual interest in his coming home or were politics involved that led to long’s hiring?

I’m well removed from this, so no “inside” info claimed, nor implied. But my sense of that was, watching it at the time, that he couldn’t wait any longer for Frank to step aside - his own “clock” was ticking - and so when Clemson came along he felt like he had to take it. Not that it wasn’t a pretty attractive job, as I believe it would have been (at that time).

Now, I’m not saying Frank SHOULD have stepped down any sooner than he did. Just that, from Terry Don’s perspective, he was ready but our job was not open, nor was it clear when it might be.

IIRC, at the time Frank finally did step aside (or, it became clear that he would be), TDP’s name was floated around but by then he was pretty well entrenched at Clemson, plus (I believe) he was dealing with some health issues, so it may not have been a good time for him to take on a professional transition.

There’s almost certainly a lot more to all of this than that, but that is my recollection from 350 miles away.

Terry Don was the AD at Oklahoma State for seven years before he went to Clemson. By the time Broyles retired, Phillips had been gone for a dozen years.

I think there were some who wanted Phillips or another Broyles protege. I know there were some who would have liked to have seen Kelly McGregor, then the president of the Rockies who had been another Broyles aide, come back, but I’m not sure that ever was realistic.

Ultimately, Dave Gearhart pushed the three-person search committee toward Jeff Long. During the search process, Gearhart learned he was in line to become chancellor and became an unspoken fourth member of the committee. Gearhart knew Jeff Long from his days as a consultant in Pennsylvania. They met with him at the Pittsburgh airport and there was a decision made pretty quickly that he was the choice.

It’s kind of ironic. FB was virtually the coach in waiting as he watched Bobby Dodd delay retiring year after year so Frank finally took the Missouri job, then of course the Arkansas job. If Dodd had retired a little earlier Frank would have had the Ga. Tech job and most likely never set foot in Arkansas. When Tech did offer Frank the job, he turned it down as he had become established at Arkansas.

Right, or not, the common perception at the time was that TDP was kind of in a holding pattern at OSU, gaining valuable experience and “seasoning” before coming back to Fayetteville when Frank retired. I heard that theory floated several times - by people who generally know what they’re talking about - during Terry Don’s days in Stillwater.

Now, things do change over time; so even if that was the original plan, the shifting power structure that developed at Arkansas in the interim may have altered it (as per Matt’s comments). There was a time when Frank could have probably “named” a successor and seen it through, but his ship took some shots to the bow during the Nolan thing, among others, shortly before he stepped down. Phillips was undoubtedly connected well enough to see the shifting of the tide, and wisely took the Clemson job when it came open. What I don’t have a feel for is (a) if he was still interested (or would have been, if the job was available) when Frank was leaving office; or (b) if TDN’s association with Frank made him “undesirable” to the folks that made the decision when it all came down? That is to say, that their hat was tilted on going in a “fresh” direction, away from the GOB Arkansas fraternity.

Bottom line is that Terry Don appears to have navigated the waters well. Kudos to him for a successful career, which has reached the pinnacle for him at this time.

By the way, Clay - I do believe that is one of the most entertaining and informative columns (of yours) that I’ve read in quite a while.

There is NO shortcut. The good news is, it CAN be done here. We KNOW that, because it was before (and I’d say the odds were actually longer given the situation Frank stepped into than the one Chad inherited - all things considered). But it is going to take time to build it, brick by brick.

There will, undoubtedly, be a chorus of bitchers and moaners all along the way. But by year 4 and 5, those that can hang on will be rewarded. I’m convinced of it.

Yeah - I want it TODAY as much as anyone. But what I want and what is realistic are frequently not the same thing. And just because I’m unhappy that it isn’t changing as quickly as I’d like is not a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We’ve to stay the course, support this staff, and give them time to bring more talent on campus and then develop them.

I don’t have any knowledge, either, but IIRC, TDP was involved in a bitter divorce & his wife’s family was highly influential and/or involved at the UA. Perhaps father a BOT member or something like that. Anyway, I understood there were some personal reasons TDP wouldn’t return or couldn’t return. I’m sure Clay or Dudley have more info on that & can correct any errors I made in my re-telling.

The short version is that Terry Don was happy personally and professionally at Clemson.

Interesting article - I’ve heard Terry Don was very involved in the process that ended in the selection of Morris. I’m glad he was.

Doesn’t sound like he’s a big fan of the rinky dink operation Long and Bielema were in charge of… to put it midly. LOL

“I did believe he was the right coach at Arkansas,” Phillips said. “I still believe that, but it’s going to take time.
“It’s the same way it was at Clemson with Dabo, just going to take patience. The administration and fans at Arkansas need to join hands. It wasn’t the best of circumstances when Chad got there. That’s being nice about it.
“I don’t know what happened at Arkansas for it to get that way and it’s none of my business. But it’s going to take a little while to build it back.”

Fantastic story Clay…just solid sir!!! Thank you.

I too also thought about our income WR class when watching Clemson’s big wideouts and thought back to what CCM said about the similarities of us and Clemson. Then when Terry Don said the same thing it really got you thinking CCM could be successful here as well. He may not hit that level but if he is close I will be thrilled!!!

Great stuff from you as always Clay!!!

Danny Ford told me in 1992 that Arkansas was similar to Clemson except only one team. He did not like South Carolina. Thought they were uppity. Not sure that was his word. But I got it.

About 6 years ago I received a call at work from Danny Fords agent. He was pitching me to hire Danny as a spokesman for Little Debbie Cakes. He said Danny was a big fan and consumer of Little Debbies. I really like Danny but his time has passed and we typically don’t do indorsments spokesperson deals.

I didn’t mention that. Nick Saba eats 2 Oatmeal Creme Pies for breakfast daily and gives us free adverstisment by talking about his love for our pies.

But I’d hire Clay Henry in a minute. He’s my favorite Oatmeal Creme Pie connoisseur. Unfortunately I’m retired! :smiley:

I once offered Clay and his daughter Sarah Oatmeal Creme Pies. Clay accepted, Sarah refused.

You may have mentioned where your user name came from in a past thread. If you did, I missed it.

But now . . .

Great Job once again Clay… “Terry Don Phillips Must Be Removed as Clemson Athletic Director Immediately.”

:lol: …reminds me of some posts 'round here. :sunglasses:

* I hope you take him up on his offer to call back, maybe he could rehash the days when he and Lloyd played, must have a story or two.

I’m certain Clay never refuses a LD Oatmeal Creme Pie!

There are always Oatmeal Creme pies in my pantry. They are staples and I’ll take them along on every fishing trip. They are to be savored at the end of the meal, or as stand alone highlights to celebrate a big fish. Gage, when he smoked, used to light up after a big fish. He quit that long ago. But now he’s like me, you need something to celebrate those big moments. A Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme pie is ALWAYS the answer. Double stuff is great.