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Dr. Terry Don Phillips



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Terry Don submitted his Living Memorial for the Nelson Stokley Tribute on Sept. 18, 2017 and his Living Memorial to the Yvette Girouard Tribute on May 19, 2017. Addition biographical information on Terry Don is located below his two LMs. Each were posted by Dr. Ed Dugas the day they were submitted.

Terry Don Phillips - USL Athletic Director 1983-88 & Clemson Athletic Director 2002-2012.

Nelson Stokley Tribute

I had the great opportunity to not only work with Nelson as a fellow coach at Virginia Tech, but also as the athletic director that hired Nelson to come to USL, e.g ULL.

Nelson was a great QB at LSU as a player and an outstanding coach. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him as a fellow coach and later as an athletic director.

He was extremely competitive and took on some of the national football programs in order to grow the Ragin' Cajun Football Program. He was very instrumental in the Louisiana Classics program (along with Herbert Heymann) that brought in major programs, such as Oklahoma State, with Heisman Trophy winner, Barry Sanders*.

Nelson was one of the most competitive individuals/coach that I've ever known.

Nelson did so much for ULL(USL) that created great exposure and growth for the football program and is a strong factor in the growth of respect that Ragin' Cajun Football enjoys today. Geaux Cajuns!
Terry Don Phillips

*some years later, Nelson and I were talking about the OSU game and Barry Sanders' kick off return late in the game to win the game. We were up and they needed a miracle to win---Nelson joked... "heck, if I had known we were kicking to the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, I would've squibbed it!!!"

* * * * *

Yvette Girouard Tribute

Terry Don Phillips - USL Athletic Director 1983-1988; Clemson Athletic Director, 2002-2012

Having served at USL, I had the great opportunity to work with Yvette. She is one of the very best coaches I had the opportunity to work with in my athletic career.

I saw her build a program from nothing to one that could and did compete against the best in women's college softball.

Yvette took a program that used to play and practice in the Cajun Field parking lot to one that competed against the best.

I can still visualize how she and her team members would set up the temporary backstop and infield/bases in the parking area of Cajun Field. But yet, from those beginnings, she built a program that was among the best in college softball.

Certainly, her teams became a great source of pride for our University and thanks to the leadership of President Authement and his staff, an outstanding facility for women's softball was developed. And, the rest is history!

* * * * * * *

Grew up in East Texas (Longiew).Went to University of Arkansas-- Graduated in 1970, played in 2 Sugar Bowls.
Started coaching career at Virginia Tech in 1972 where I also recieved a Masters and Doctorate. Later, I received my Law degree from Arkansas when I returned there to work for my Coach, Frank Broyles. I started my administrative career at Florida. Served as Athletic Director at Liberty, University of Southwestern Louisiana(ULL),Oklahoma State, and Clemson.

Retired from Clemson in Spring of 2013. My last career game, ironically, was between two Head Coaches who I had given their first Head Coach's job. Les Miles at Oklahoma State and Dabo Swinney at Clemson playing in the 2012 Chic-Fil-A Bowl. Clemson won on a last second field goal finishing the season with a #10 national after beating LSU 25-24.

Four seasons later, In January ,2017--Clemson (Dabo) won the National Championship.

Trish(former USL staff member), and I reside in Seneca,SC/ just outside of Clemson.

Updated Jan. 25, 2017 by Terry Don.

* * * * *

Former Athletic Director: Ex-Cajuns AD saw 'it' in Dabo. Could O have it, too?

Glenn Guilbeau, USA Network, The Advertiser, Jan. 15, 2017

TAMPA, Florida - Former University of Louisiana at Lafayette athletic director Terry Don Phillips enjoyed his second national championship hire in less than 10 years last Monday night.

Phillips, who was UL Lafayette’s athletic director from 1983-88 and Oklahoma State’s athletic director from 1995-2002, hired Les Miles at Oklahoma State before the 2001 season and Dabo Swinney at Clemson after the 2008 season.

Before the 1986 season at UL Lafayette, Phillips hired Nelson Stokley, a former LSU quarterback and then the Clemson offensive coordinator, to be the Cajuns’ head coach. He chose Stokley over prep legend J.T. Curtis of John Curtis High in the New Orleans area. And the late Stokley, who was offensive coordinator on Clemson’s national championship team in 1981, remains one of the best coaches in the Cajuns' history with four straight winning seasons from 1986-89 and three more from 1993-95.

Miles, who took Oklahoma State to three straight winning seasons and bowl games after inheriting a program that had 11 losing seasons in 12 years, came to LSU after the 2004 season and directed the Tigers to the 2007 season national championship with a 38-24 victory over Ohio State on Jan. 7, 2008. He reached the BCS title game in the 2011 season as well.

Swinney took Clemson to the national championship game last year before losing to Alabama, 45-40, then won it all this season with a 35-31 victory over the Crimson Tide last week.

“I’m especially happy for two people, Terry Don Phillips, and then my wife, Kathleen,” Swinney said during an emotional post-game address to the media after the last second victory on a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback DeShaun Watson to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.

“Eight-and-a-half years ago, Terry Don gave me the opportunity to lead this program and let me do it my way,” Swinney said. “He let me do it the way I felt like we needed to do it.”

It was anything but a slam dunk hire. It was similar to LSU hiring Ed Orgeron after the 2016 regular season. Like Swinney, Orgeron was promoted from the staff to replace a fired head coach during a season and won enough (Orgeron went 6-2 after Miles’ 2-2 start to Swinney’s 4-3 after Tommy Bowden’s 3-3 start) to keep the job. Orgeron’s hire received a C grade by Dan Wolken of USA Today.

“There’s no doubt Orgeron is better equipped to be a head coach now than he was a decade ago when he went 3-21 in the SEC at Ole Miss,” Wolken wrote before Orgeron hired offensive coordinator Matt Canada from Pittsburgh. “Still, it’s remarkable that LSU fired Miles only to elevate Orgeron, who got the job despite losing at home to Alabama and Florida as the interim coach. Though this was a poorly run search by athletics director Joe Alleva, Orgeron keeping Dave Aranda as defensive coordinator is a good start. If he can pair Aranda with a top-shelf offensive coordinator, this may work.”

Had the Swinney hire received a grade from most media, Phillips thinks it would have likely been a D or F.

“Coach Orgeron had significantly more experience when LSU hired him than Dabo had,” Phillips said in an interview from Clemson, where he has remained after retiring as Clemson’s athletic director - a post held from 2002-2012 after leaving Oklahoma State. “Orgeron also has more age and experience coming in.”

Orgeron is 55 and was a head coach at Ole Miss for three years, an interim coach at USC in 2013, at LSU in 2016, a recruiting coordinator at USC twice, at Tennessee and at LSU, and he was an assistant on the defensive side for more than two decades with a stop in the NFL at New Orleans. Swinney’s only experience before becoming Clemson’s interim coach was five years as a receivers coach at Alabama from 1996-2000 and five years as a receivers coach at Clemson from 2003-07. There were two years out of coaching in between when he dabbled in real estate in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, after he was not retained in 2001 by new Alabama coach Dennis Franchione, who replaced Mike DuBose. Like Swinney, Orgeron had gaps in his career outside of coaching, which was in 1993 after losing his job at Miami and in 2014 after not getting the permanent job at USC.

“Dabo had some experience, but nothing to hang your hat on like Ed did at USC as interim coach,” Phillips said. “The thing with Dabo and hiring him as our head coach is sort of hard to explain. The bottom line is when I hired him, he really didn’t have credentials. He was never a coordinator. He had just been in real estate a few years before. It was sort of unusual. People weren’t happy because he didn’t have the background.”

Phillips had interviewed then Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, who is now the Florida Atlantic head coach after stints as Tennessee’s and USC’s head coach. He also interviewed then Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who went on to become New Mexico’s head coach and is now an Alabama offensive analyst. He also interviewed then and now Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun and considered such coaches as then and now TCU head coach Garry Patterson, then Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe and then Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who is now South Carolina’s head coach.

But there was something about Swinney as there was something about Miles, who like Swinney was an assistant coach at the place where he would later become the head coach. Miles was Oklahoma State’s offensive line coach/offensive coordinator from 1995-97 under the man he would replace - Bob Simmons - before a stint as the Dallas Cowboys’ tight ends coach from 1998-2000.

“Les coached with passion, and he had a great relationship with his players,” Phillips said. “I was impressed with how his offensive line played. Les did a great job for us at Oklahoma State. I think the world of Les. I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten another job yet.”

Phillips, a defensive tackle at Arkansas from 1966-69, noticed Swinney’s passion quite accidentally while watching the Clemson defense at practice one day.

“All of a sudden, I hear all this hollering and screaming, so I look around,” Phillips said. “And it’s Dabo getting on one of his players. He didn’t know how to cuss, so it was all clean words. But he was catching their attention. I started spending more time with the receivers. I used to have to walk through the coaching office to get to my car, and I noticed that there were players in Dabo’s office who were not receivers. He just had a tremendous repor with his players. Over a period of time, I developed tremendous respect for the way Dabo treated his players. He also had a tough background coming up and worked through a lot of adversity. He walked on and made the team at Alabama.”

Swinney was a backup wide receiver on Alabama’s national championship team in 1992 and a graduate assistant there from 1993-95.

“He was basically a walk-on coach,” Phillips said.

And as is usually the case when a walk-on, or interim, coach get the job, there tends to be a shorter leash.

“People get upset really quickly,” Phillips said.

Clemson went 9-5 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic division in Swinney’s first full season in 2009. But he fell to 6-7 overall and 4-4 in 2010 with a Meineke Car Care Bowl loss to South Florida. Swinney thought he may get fired.

“I still believed he could do the job period,” Phillips said. “Instinctively, I just thought he could do it. I thought he was a special young man. He had great relationships with players, and he was a tireless recruiter.”

Six straight double-digit win seasons, three ACC titles, two national title appearances and one national championship have followed.

“I really didn’t know Dabo from Adam’s house cat when he came to Clemson,” Phillips said. “But I gradually just got a gut feeling about him. That’s how it works sometimes.”

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has made similar statements about his hiring of Orgeron, who actually began to gain favor as a possible replacement for Miles in November of 2015 when Miles nearly got fired.

“It’s subjective,” Phillips said. “Sometimes you just get this feeling about an individual.”

Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU sports for the USA Today Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter at @LSUBeatTweet.
Administration:  1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988