CLEMSON -- A Clemson assistant coach conveyed the image of Tommy Bowden pushing a stack of poker chips to the center of the table.
Bowden went all-in with the bet he would take the Arkansas job.
Instead of calling his bluff, school administration met his demand to raise the ante on his severance package.
Whether Bowden would have walked away without the concession might never be known. Nonetheless, it was the final straw Tuesday that precipitated Clemson's ninth-year coach calling off the Hogs.
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With Arkansas officials scheduled to meet to approve a proposed deal, Bowden instead agreed in principle to a new seven-year contract with Clemson that extends his prior commitment an extra four years through 2014.
"Any time you sign a new contract, you feel a little better," Bowden said. "It's kind of like Christmas. You keep the gift all year, but when you open it up, it's a little nicer. Then you wear it out after awhile."
Bowden probably knows that more than most, which explained why the sticking point in his negotiations with Clemson hinged on his buyout clause.
Terms of the deal will not be released officially until a Clemson Board of Trustees subcommittee signs off on Bowden's contract, which first must be drafted by athletic director Terry Don Phillips and Bowden's agent, Ricky Davis. That process figures to last more than a week.
But a source close to the situation confirmed Bowden is set to make roughly $1.7 million annually in salary and guaranteed income, elevating him into the upper echelon of ACC salaries.
At his previous $1.2 million salary, Bowden trailed Virginia's Al Groh ($1.97 million next season) and Maryland's Ralph Friedgen ($1.69 million), whose programs had comparable if not less success in recent years.
Florida State's Bobby Bowden ($2.5 million), North Carolina's Butch Davis ($2.0 million) and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer ($2.0 million) are the only others who rank higher in the conference.
Bowden's new deal is also peppered with incentives that could boost his earnings to beyond $2.1 million if Clemson wins its division, reaches the BCS and claims the national title.