Firing college coaches whose teams fail to live up to expectations is a time-honored tradition. It doesn't always make perfect sense, but it permits the hope that, if nothing else, the coach's exit somehow will change the existing dynamics.
The head of Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden rolled Monday. Bowden stepped down after what athletics director Terry Don Phillips called a long, candid discussion about the state of the program.
As they say in situations such as this, a mutual decision was made that it was time for Bowden to step down. He proposed his resignation, and it was accepted.
Bowden's record at Clemson since 1999 has been perfectly respectable. His teams averaged eight wins a season and qualified for a bowl game each year.
Bowden also stood out in what some would characterize as less tangible ways. His teams were academically sound and rarely engaged in off-field antics. He recruited excellent players, held them to a high standard and represented the team and the university with class.
His downfall was his failure to win an Atlantic Coast Conference championship. And Phillips makes no bones about that.
Phillips also has stated that Bowden was the first to bring up the possibility of his stepping down. Bowden allegedly was fully aware that the Tigers' 3-3 start this season -- after being ranked ninth in the nation at the beginning of the season -- was disheartening. Questions about his status as coach would be a distraction and possibly hurt recruiting.
So, Bowden suggested it might be time to resign.
Don't weep for him. Clemson will pay Bowden $3.5 million over six years in semi-annual installments. He's 54 now, and would never have to work again if he chose not to.
But some may lament the signal this resignation sends regarding the state of college athletics. It reinforces the notion that winning is everything, that dissatisfied alumni and donors can create enough friction to end the career of a good coach, but one who falls short of a championship.
We can only hope that Bowden's successor can satisfy fans without sacrificing the standards instilled by Bowden.
Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden has elected to step down in mid-season.