Tommy Bowden is now what people who don't have rent due call "between jobs." The outgoing Clemson football coach is armed with a $3.5 million IOU to be paid for over the next six years by you and me because Clemson is a public college and it gets its money from us. College presidents plead poverty in an economic crisis and the millions roll out.
Yet nobody Tuesday at the Rock Hill branch of the South Carolina employment office, a place real people call the "unemployment office," has ever used the term "between jobs." Except in the phrase: "I was walking between jobs washing dishes and cleaning up at other people's houses and I got jeered at by a bunch of rotten rich kids in their daddy's nice car."
No, real people Tuesday -- I met a wonderful lady named Veleka Strong looking for work, and she is sure real -- use the words "unemployed." I overheard several say "no job." Many sure used the word "broke."
Bowden's money is called a buyout. Not just like severance, but as close as working people get. For most of the rest of us, the idea of severance pay is picking up the last check when it is ready next week to keep the lights on. Veleka Strong's mother, Cynthia, was there at the unemployment office looking for work Tuesday just like her daughter. She and 539 people just like her lost good jobs at Leiner Health Products in Fort Mill Township last year when Leiner closed abruptly. Just like Bowden, whom many say did a good job, ran a clean program, but never climbed the mountaintop of greatness, she had been working at the same job for nine years. She got two weeks of pay for each year -- 18 weeks -- as severance.
"It sure wasn't $3.5 million," said the terrific Cynthia Strong. "I am happy for him, though."
I am not so hard-hearted as not to try to help Bowden find something to do now that he can't coach a bunch of football players. A check of the employment office list showed 255 potential jobs in York County.
No football coach jobs on the list. And nothing close to paying many hundreds of thousands a year like Clemson pays.
However, there are many jobs in loan services. But news for a month has been that there are no loans. There are jobs for engineers, carpenters, even two as "boilermaker." You make boilers. South Carolina -- Bowden was on a public payroll -- is hiring state troopers, too. The starting pay for troopers who protect us and escort football coaches across the field after games -- especially losses -- is $23,000 per year.
One job showed job requirements as "prepare educational games and activities," "help with homework," and "assist with basic needs." Sounded kinda like some of what a football coach is supposed to do.
The job is day-care teacher. It pays $6.55 an hour.
Job hunting in York County
Here are some other jobs Bowden could take if he wants to come to York County.
• Dog watcher. York County has animal rights activists falling over each other to decide whether dogs should be tethered. What real people call "chained." Bowden could dog sit.
• Dishwasher at the Varsity Restaurant. Owner Roy Russell soon will have to spend time shooing away smokers when the city decides coffee and cigarettes together is illegal, so Russell might need help in the back.
• Fort Mill mayor. The current mayor forwarded an e-mail that wondered if Barack Obama might be the antichrist. He then wondered why anybody would care, why the media cared when it became an Internet sensation, and why some said he may have been silly or stupid to do so.
• Chaffeur, York County Council. Meetings in York are a long way from Fort Mill if you aren't supposed to drive.
• Rock Hill police officer. Wait, the city management prefers hiring consultants over cops.
• Avon salesman. A classified ad in The Herald on Tuesday stated "Income Unlimited!" I guess that means millions.
In Lancaster, there is a decorated criminal prosecutor named Mike Lifsey. Lifsey, who lives in Chester and has worked in all three area counties on both sides as prosecutor and defense lawyer, loves Clemson football so much that he braved the yelling at home to take a trip to Idaho years ago to watch the Tigers play in a bowl game. The flight, booked to save money and thus his hide, took him from Columbia to Newark, N.J., to Houston to Idaho. It took longer to fly to Idaho than to drive.
Lifsey told me "something had to be done" in regard to Bowden leaving because in almost 10 years he hadn't bagged the big deer of titles and that expectation "comes with the territory in big-time college sports."
"I hate to see anybody lose a job in this day and age, but at least Bowden won't be in a soup line," Lifsey said. "He's got that big buyout."
Lifsey has no buyout in his job of prosecuting people who break the heads of little old ladies.
If Bowden can cook, that soup kitchen might be have job for him. The employment office list shows an opening for a line cook. Pay wasn't listed, but Bowden already knows how to take the heat.