2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 5/23/2014 11:18 PM

Out at Carmel, Bowen tunes up to stay in coaching

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Quietly told by Carmel Catholic's administration this week that his services as boys basketball coach would no longer be needed, Tim Bowen was enjoying a quiet morning Friday.

Then the volume got cranked up. Foo Fighters, loud.

"It's funny," said Bowen, who's been teaching at Grayslake Central for the last 14 years. "The morning was kind of quiet and I'm thinking, 'OK, this is just going to blow over.' Then I went to my study hall. I went to my lunch. I came back -- and my phone blew up and the emails were going crazy."

In this age of social media, news spread rapidly Friday morning that Bowen was out after four seasons at Carmel. It was a stunning move considering this past season his Corsairs captured a school-record 25 wins and Class 3A regional championship for the second year in a row.

"It was kind of a surprise," Bowen said. "There were some discussions (with Carmel's administration) early on about some things. Nothing big. It just went on and on for 2-3 weeks, so I just figured everything was good. Then I got the infamous Andy Bitto 'We need to talk' text. So that was pretty much it."

By last week, after Bitto, Carmel's athletic director, and new principal Mark Ostap addressed the situation with Bowen, the writing was on the wall.

Plans were being made to offer Bowen's job to young Zack Ryan, who teaches at Carmel but coached Mundelein's freshman team last winter. Carmel made Ryan's hiring official Friday by announcing it via a news release.

"I did not resign," Bowen said. "The principal was not going to renew my contract."

Bowen was the head coach at Grayslake from 2000-2008, winning a pair of regional championships, before the administration chose not to retain him. He spent two years as an assistant coach at Waukegan, before Carmel hired him in 2010 to resurrect its program that had been lifeless for two decades.

After winning 10 and 11 games in Bowen's first two seasons, respectively, the Corsairs went 15-14 two seasons ago, winning their first regional championship since 1991-92.

Before this past season, Carmel had not enjoyed a 20-win season since posting a school-record 24 victories in 1984-85.

"Where do I go?" I don't know," Bowen said. "It's a tough one. I know this: I appreciate the hard work that the kids put in these last four years. We demanded a lot from them, and (the success of the program) is the result of that."

While Bowen made Carmel boys basketball relevant again, he did so with his familiar style, which isn't always warm and cuddly. His in-your-face, sometimes-abrasive style is not for every player, or parent. His sideline scowls can melt ice.

His genius can also win basketball games.

So while Carmel grew tired of Bowen, another school surely will look to hire him.

His success on the court speaks for itself.

"I'm definitely interested (in coaching again)," said Bowen, who turns 51 next month. "I don't think my career is over. I think I've learned a lot over the last few years. When you get older, you can really start to reflect back on some stupidity and see things that you can clear up and fix. I still have a couple of goals left to accomplish. I don't want to say I'm done as a head coach."

What's tough for Bowen is that he won't coach his son again next season. As a junior guard this past season, Lee Bowen came off the bench and appeared in every game for the Corsairs.

"The timing is hurtful because of my boy," Tim Bowen said.

When he learned he wouldn't be coming back to Carmel, Bowen gave Lee the option of staying at Carmel, assuring his son he wouldn't be hurting his dad's feeling if he wanted to continue being a Corsair. Lee's decision was instant. He'll attend either Grayslake North or Vernon Hills in the fall. Tim Bowen resides in Grayslake, while Lee's mother lives in Vernon Hills.

Bowen says he understands why Carmel didn't retain him, why it hired Ryan, who's the nephew of Grant AD and former Mundelein coach Dick Knar and whose future in coaching looks bright.

"I don't feel bad," Bowen said. "It's part of the coaching gig."

With longtime Zion-Benton coach Don Kloth joining Warren coach Ryan Webber's staff as an assistant, the Zee-Bees job is open. So, too, is the gig at Grayslake Central, where Brian Moe recently stepped down to become the school's AD.

Would he want to coach the Rams again? Bowen didn't rule it out.

"I'll probably save that conversation for another day," he said.

Stay tuned.


• Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeAguilar64

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