...but essentially he was fired.
You know we hear this meme from ABCers every so often that UNC fired Matt Doherty(allegedly for not winning.) The truth is Doherty resigned because the program was falling apart amid a player rebellion but because of the circumstances surrounding Doherty, people love to say he was fired. In my mind the same is true of Tommy Bowden though it unfolded in a more amicable manner, that is unless you talk to Culen Harper. Here is how it went down. Bowden met with Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips Monday morning and was given the following condition connected to his continued employment at Clemson:
Win the ACC or you will not be retained.
Bowden takes the ultimatum under advisment, comes back later and resigns. So technically Bowden resigned and technically Phillips did not force a resignation. But let's be honest, Phillips set forth an condition that would require divine intervention for Bowden to meet it. Clemson has two losses in the ACC and the Atlantic Division leader is Wake Forest at 2-0. Wake owns the tiebreaker on Clemson(and FSU) which means two fairly remote things would have to happen: Clemson would need to go 6-2 in the ACC and Wake would have to finish 5-3. Barring Riley Skinner's throwing arm falling off his body, the latter will not happen and barring every one of Clemson's final five ACC opponents getting lost on the way to the stadium the former will not be happening either.
The long and short of it is Phillips shrewdly forced Bowden's hand. It was a brilliant move based on the idea that the math still gives Clemson a chance to win the ACC. With this in mind, Phillips meets with Bowden, drops this ultimatum and makes it look like Clemson wants to keep Bowden while still believing he can get the job done. Meanwhile Bowden figures it is better to save face and walk away now rather than go through the charade of trying to save his job in attempting to win the ACC which had odds somewhere between slim and none. In the end Phillips looks gracious, Bowden puts the program first and everyone comes out smelling like roses.
Needless to say it was well executed. However a resignation which is derived from a threat to terminate based on meeting an impossible condition is pretty much the same as firing the person. The difference is semantics and the paperwork filled out at HR.