Clemson Tigers football: Wikis


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Clemson Tigers football
Current season Current season
First season 1896
Head coach Dabo Swinney
1st year, 8–4  (.667)
Home stadium Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Stadium capacity 80,301
Stadium surface Natural Grass
Location Clemson, South Carolina
Conference ACC
Division Atlantic
All-time record 625–426–45 (.591)
Postseason bowl record 16–16
Claimed national titles 1
Conference titles 17
Consensus All-Americans 17
Current uniform
Colors Orange and White              
Fight song Tiger Rag
Rivals South Carolina Gamecocks
Florida State Seminoles
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
NC State Wolfpack

The Clemson Tigers football program competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.




Early Years: 1896–1899

Walter Merritt Riggs can be characterized as the "father of Clemson Football," as he brought the game with him from Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University). The fact that Auburn and Clemson share the same mascot is no accident. Riggs allowed his players to pick the team mascot and, although he may have influenced their decision, the players chose Tigers because Princeton University had just won the national championship. Riggs helped organize and coach the infant Tiger team in 1896. Indeed, when the Tigers traveled to Greenville on Halloween to play Furman in their very first match, only Coach Riggs and backfield player Frank Thompkins had ever seen a football game played.

Riggs took the team to a 2–1 record in the inaugural year. He then stepped aside at the urging of the cadets, who felt that he should concentrate on his scholastic duties rather than coach the team for free. William M. Williams coached the Tigers in 1897, guiding them to a 2–2 record. In 1898, John Penton led the Tigers to a 3–1 record.

In 1899, when the Clemson Athletic Association could not afford a coaching salary, Riggs again took over the reins, one of only two Clemson football coaches to return to the position after stepping down. The 1899 squad went 4–2. Riggs' overall record of 6–3 gives him a .667 winning percentage. Riggs Field is named for him.

After a decade as a Mechanical Engineering professor, he was named acting president of Clemson Agricultural College in 1910, being confirmed by the Board of Trustees as permanent president on March 7, 1911. He served until his untimely death on January 22, 1924 while on a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with officials of other land grant institutions.

John Heisman Era: 1900-1903

John W. Heisman on Bowman Field, Clemson's first gridiron.

John Heisman coached the Tigers to their first undefeated season (6–0) in 1900. Heisman stayed only four years at Clemson, where he compiled a record of 19–3–2, an .833 percentage, the best in Clemson football history. Following a 73–0 defeat of Georgia Tech in 1903, the Yellow Jackets hired Heisman as their first full-time football coach.

Post-Heisman Era: 1904–1930

After Heisman left Clemson to become the head coach at Georgia Tech, the following coaches lead the Tigers football team:

  • Shack Shealy (1904): 3–3–1 record
  • Edward B. Cochems (1905): 3–2–1 record
  • Bob Williams (1906, 1909, 1913–1915): 21–14–6 record; only coach to serve as Clemson's head coach three times; also coached at South Carolina
  • Frank Shaughnessy (1907): 4–4 record
  • John Stone (1908): 1–6 record
  • Frank Dobson (1910–1912): 11–12–1 record; also coached at South Carolina
  • Wayne Hart (1916): 3–6 record
  • Edward Donahue (1917–1920): 21–12–3 record
  • E.J. Stewart (1921–1922): 6–10–2 record
  • Bill Saunders (1923–1926): 10–22–1 record
  • Josh Cody (1927–1930): 29–11–1 record; Tigers were undefeated at home (13-0-1) and against South Carolina (3–0) during Cody's tenure

Jess Neely Era: 1931–1939

In 1931, Jess Neely (a former head coach at Rhodes and assistant at Alabama) became Clemson's head football coach. During his tenure, Neely led the Tigers to a 43-35-7 record. His final season at Clemson was the turning point in the Tigers' program. His team went 9-1 during that season, finishing second to Duke in the Southern Conference. The Tigers also received their first bowl invitation and bowl victory that year, defeating nationally ranked Boston College 6-3 in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic. The 1939 Tigers finished with a #12 ranking in the final AP poll. Clemson also had their first Associated Press All-American that year in Banks McFadden. Jess Neely, along with then athletic director Dr. Rupert Fike, founded the IPTAY Scholarship Fund, which supports the Clemson Athletic Department.

Frank Howard Era: 1940–1969

After Jess Neely left to become the head coach at Rice, Frank Howard (an assistant coach under Neely) was named head coach. In his 30 years at Clemson, Howard compiled a 165–118–12 record, a 3–3 bowl record, won two Southern Conference championships, and six ACC championships. Seven of Howard's teams finished the year ranked in at least one final poll. He also incorporated the Single Wing, T-formation, and I-formation offenses at different points during his coaching career at Clemson.

The tradition of rubbing "Howard's Rock" prior to running down the hill before home games began during Coach Howard's tenure. The playing field at Memorial Stadium was named "Frank Howard Field" following his retirement to honor his many years of service for the university. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Clemson Hall of Fame, the Clemson Ring of Honor, the Helms Athletic Hall of Fame, the State of Alabama Hall of Fame, National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor, and the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame.

Post-Howard Era: 1970–1976

Clemson struggled during the years following Frank Howard's retirement. His successor, Hootie Ingram, only compiled a 12–21 record. During his tenure, the tradition of running down the hill was stopped from 1970 to the end of the 1972 season, when the team decided it wanted to come down the hill for the final home game against South Carolina. The traditional "tiger paw" logo was introduced by Ingram. Jimmy "Red" Parker coached the Tigers from 1973-1976, compiling a 17-25-2 record.

Charlie Pell Era: 1977-1978

Charlie Pell coached the Tigers for 2 seasons, winning the ACC Coach of the Year award twice and leading the Tigers to the 1978 ACC Championship en route to a 18-4-1 record. In both seasons, Clemson earned berths to the Gator Bowl. However, Pell became involved in NCAA rules and recruiting violations that came to light under the tenure of his successor, Danny Ford. Charlie Pell would leave after 1978 to become head coach at Florida, where his coaching career would end in 1984 following more NCAA rules violations.

Danny Ford Era: 1978–1989

The Danny Ford Era began in 1978, after Charlie Pell left for the University of Florida. He won his first game, the 1978 Gator Bowl, with a 17–15 victory over Ohio State and legendary coach Woody Hayes, who punched LB Charlie Bauman in the throat after making the game-clinching interception. In his first two seasons, Ford guided the Tigers to 8–4 and 6–5 records and a Peach Bowl bid in 1979. In 1981, Ford led the Tigers to a 12–0 record, his first ACC championship as head coach, a 22-15 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and the school's first national championship in any sport. During his tenure at Clemson, Ford compiled a 96-29-4 (.760) record, a 6-2 bowl record, won five ACC championships, and finished the year ranked in at least one poll seven times. Ford also coached 21 All-Americans and 41 players who went on to play in the NFL during his 11 seasons at Clemson.

On November 21, 1982, the football program was placed on probation for a 2-year period to include the 1983 and 1984 seasons. This sanction was enforced on the program by the NCAA Committee on Infractions due to a lengthy history of recruiting violations to gain an athletic advantage that had taken place from 1977 through the Tigers' 1981 National Championship season and into 1982, under the administration of two head coaches, Charlie Pell and Danny Ford.

Over 150 documented violations were found to have been committed under NCAA bylaws in the categories of improper recruiting inducements, extra benefits to student-athletes, ethical conduct, improper financial aid, improper campus visits, improper transportation and entertainment, improper use of funds, improper employment, improper recruiting contact, and distribution of cash to players by members of the coaching staff.[1]

As a result of these violations, Clemson was publicly reprimanded and censured by the NCAA. The football team was barred from participating in bowl games following the 1982 and 1983 seasons, and barred from appearing on live television in the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Also, the number of scholarships that the university could allocate to football players was restricted to 20 (from the normal limit of 30) for the 1983-84 and 1984-85 academic years.

Charles Alan Wright, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions said at the time, "Due to the large number and serious nature of the violations in this case, the committee believed that institutional sanctions related to appearances on television and in postseason football bowl games were appropriate. In addition, because the violations indicated a pattern of improper recruiting activities, the committee determined that a two-year limitation on financial aid to new recruits should be imposed to offset any recruiting advantage that was gained improperly by the university."[2][3]

Just five years after their probation ended, Clemson once again found their football program accused of multiple recruiting violations in January 1990.[4] The NCAA accused Clemson of giving cash to players and having illegal contact with recruits over a period from 1984 to 1988. In June 1990, the Tigers found themselves on probation once again, for the second time in less than a decade.[5] This chain of events contributed, in part, to the forced resignation of popular head coach Danny Ford.[6]

After a few years away from coaching, Ford was hired by Arkansas in 1992, where he would spend five seasons guiding the Razorbacks.

Ken Hatfield Era: 1990–1993

Ken Hatfield, former coach at Air Force and Arkansas, coached the Tigers to their most recent ACC championship in 1991. He had a 32–13–1 record with the Tigers and led them to three bowl games (even though he didn't coach the 1993 Peach Bowl) and three final rankings in the AP and Coaches polls. Hatfield had a 1–1 bowl record at Clemson. After the 1993 regular season, Hatfield left to become the head coach at Rice.

The purple home jerseys used by Clemson in special games made their debut during the 1991 ACC championship season, their most recent ACC Championship to date.

Tommy West Era: 1993–1998

Tommy West replaced Ken Hatfield at the end of the 1993 season, coaching the Tigers to a 14-13 victory in the 1993 Peach Bowl against Kentucky. West had a 31–28 record during his five seasons at Clemson and led the Tigers to three bowl games but no ACC championships. West was fired after a dismal 1998 campaign which saw Clemson go 3-8 and finish last in the ACC. West went on to be the head coach at Memphis.

Tommy Bowden Era: 1999–2008

After Tommy West's dismissal following the 1998 season, Clemson hired Tommy Bowden, son of Bobby Bowden and coach at Tulane University. Bowden led the Tigers to a 6–6 record and a Peach Bowl bid in 1999, with the team that navigated its way through a schedule that included MAC champions and undefeated Marshall, Big East champion and BCS runner-up Virginia Tech (who went undefeated during the regular season), and eventual National Champion Florida State (who finished the year undefeated). The 1999 meeting between the Tigers and Seminoles was dubbed the "Bowden Bowl" and was the first time that a father and son coached against each other in Division I football. FSU won the game 17–14 in front of the largest crowd in the history of Death Valley.

During Bowden's tenure, the Tigers were bowl eligible every season but didn't win any ACC championships (the 2004 team turned down a bowl invitation as punishment for a massive brawl during a game against the University of South Carolina). Despite this, Bowden has been criticized for his teams underachieving. The 2000 Tigers started 8–0 and rose as high as #5 in the polls before losing three of their last four. The same thing happened during the 2006 season following a 7–1 start and with the team on the verge of winning the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers have also shown great resolve at points during Bowden's tenure. The 2003 team won four games at the end of the season to finish 9–4, which included victories over #3 Florida State and #7 Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The 2004 season saw the Tigers falter to a 1–4 start only to win five of their last six games (which included an overtime upset of #10 Miami), while the 2005 team overcame a 2–3 start to finish the season 9–4.

Tommy Bowden agreed to resign for $3.5 Million on October 13, 2008, after leading the team to a disappointing 3–3 record (1–2 ACC) at the midpoint of a season in which the Tigers were an almost unanimous preseason pick to win their first ACC title under Bowden and were ranked #9 in the preseason polls. Assistant coach Dabo Swinney was named interim head coach.[7]

Dabo Swinney Era: 2008–present

After leading the Tigers to 4–2 after taking over for Tommy Bowden as the interim head coach, Dabo Swinney accepted a 5-year contract at the head coach position on December 1, 2008.[8]

On November 21, 2009, Clemson clinched their first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship berth in 18 years by defeating the Virginia Cavaliers 34-21 in regulation. This was after losing to Maryland, TCU and an emotionally crushing defeat by the South Carolina Gamecocks. Clemson lost the rivalry game by two touchdowns. A score so unrepresentative of the actual play of the game that even C.J. Spiller likely lost his chance at Heismann after being held to just 18 yards rushing.

The Tigers lost the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on December 5, 2009, in Tampa, FL with a final score of 39-34.

Logos and uniforms

Clemson's uniform combinations


South Carolina

Georgia Tech

Clemson's rivalry with Georgia Tech dates to 1898 with the first game being played in Atlanta. The game was played in Atlanta for 45 of the first 47 matchups. When Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1978, The series went to a more traditional home-and-home setup beginning with the 1983 game. When the ACC expanded to 12 teams and split into two divisions in 2005, Clemson and Georgia Tech were placed in opposite divisions but were designated permanent cross-divisional rivals so that the series may continue uninterrupted. The two schools are 127 miles apart and connected to each other by Interstate 85. This distance is slightly closer than that between Clemson and traditional rival South Carolina (137 miles). As of 2009, Georgia Tech leads the series 48-24-2. The Yellow Jackets own a slight edge in the rivalry at 14-13 since Georgia Tech joined the ACC.

N.C. State

The yearly conference and divisional matchup between NC State is known as the Textile Bowl for the schools similar missions in research and development for the textile industry in the Carolinas. The first meeting of the two schools occurred in 1899 and as of 2009, Clemson holds a 50-27-1 series advantage.

Boston College

The O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy was created in 2008 by the Boston College Gridiron Club in order to honor the tradition at both schools and to honor the legacy of Charlie O’Rourke and Banks McFadden, who played during the leather helmet era. The club plans to make this an annual presentation. Clemson first met Boston College on the football field in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic, the first ever bowl game for the Tigers and Eagles. Over the next 43 years, the teams met a total of 13 times. In 2005, Boston College joined the ACC and the Atlantic Division. Since then, the game has been played on an annual basis with Boston College winning 3 of the first 5 games as divisional foes. As of 2009, Clemson owns a slight lead in the series 9-8-2.

Florida State

Between 1999 and 2007 the ACC Atlantic Division matchup between Clemson and Florida State was referred to as the "Bowden Bowl" to reflect the father-son head coach matchup between Bobby Bowden (Father, FSU) and Tommy Bowden (Son, Clemson). Their first meeting, in 1999, was the first time in Division I-A history that a father and a son met as opposing head coaches in a football game. Bobby Bowden won the first four matchups extending FSU's winning streak over Clemson to 11 dating back to 1992. Since 2002, Clemson won 4 of the last 5, including a 26-10 win in Clemson over then-#3 FSU, the highest ranking opponent to ever be defeated by the Tigers. Also during this time the Tigers recorded a 27-20 win in Tallahassee in 2006 which broke a 17-year losing streak in Doak Campbell Stadium. 2007 was the last Bowden Bowl game as Tommy resigned as head coach in October 2008. As of 2009, Florida State leads the overall series at 16-7.


Clemson has a lesser rivalry with the University of Georgia, born because of the two institutions' close proximity (roughly 90 miles apart). Clemson and Georgia first met in 1897. The rivalry was at its height in the 1980s, but the two programs have not played each other since 2003. The athletic departments recently added games to be played in 2013 at Clemson and 2014 in Athens. As of 2008, Georgia leads the series 41-17-4, winning the past five meetings in a row after last losing to the Tigers in 1990.[9]

Bowl games

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
January 1, 1940 Cotton W Boston College 6 3
January 1, 1949 Gator W Missouri 24 23
January 1, 1951 Orange W Miami 15 14
January 1, 1952 Gator L Miami 0 14
January 1, 1957 Orange L Colorado 21 27
January 1, 1959 Sugar L LSU 0 7
December 19, 1959 Bluebonnet W TCU 23 7
December 30, 1977 Gator L Pittsburgh 3 34
December 29, 1978 Gator W Ohio State 17 15
December 31, 1979 Peach L Baylor 18 24
January 1, 1982 Orange W Nebraska 22 15
December 21, 1985 Independence L Minnesota 13 20
December 27, 1986 Gator W Stanford 27 21
January 1, 1988 Florida Citrus W Penn State 35 10
January 2, 1989 Florida Citrus W Oklahoma 13 6
December 30, 1989 Gator W West Virginia 27 7
January 1, 1991 Hall of Fame W Illinois 30 0
January 1, 1992 Florida Citrus L California 13 37
December 31, 1993 Peach W Kentucky 14 13
January 1, 1996 Gator L Syracuse 0 41
December 28, 1996 Peach L LSU 7 10
January 2, 1998 Peach L Auburn 17 21
December 30, 1999 Peach L Mississippi State 7 17
January 1, 2001 Gator L Virginia Tech 20 41
December 31, 2001 Humanitarian W Louisiana Tech 49 24
December 23, 2002 Tangerine L Texas Tech 15 55
January 2, 2004 Peach W Tennessee 27 14
December 27, 2005 Champs Sports W Colorado 19 10
December 29, 2006 Music City L Kentucky 20 28
December 31, 2007 Chick-Fil-A L Auburn 20 23
January 1, 2009 Gator L Nebraska 21 26
December 27, 2009 Music City W Kentucky 21 13
Total 32 Bowl Games 16-16 564 620

National Championship

Year Coach Selectors Record Bowl
1981 Danny Ford AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, Litkenhous, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, NY Times, Poling, Sagarin, Sporting News, UPI 12-0 Orange

Clemson finished their undefeated 1981 season with a 22-15 victory over the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and were voted #1 in the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) polls.

Conference Championships

Year Coach Record
1900 John Heisman 6-0
1902 John Heisman 6-1
1939* Jess Neely* 9-1*
1940 Frank Howard 6-2-1
1948 Frank Howard 11-0
1956 Frank Howard 7-2-2
1958 Frank Howard 8-3
1959 Frank Howard 9-2
1965 Frank Howard 5-5
1966 Frank Howard 6-4
1967 Frank Howard 6-4
1978 Charley Pell 11-1
1981 Danny Ford 12-0
1982 Danny Ford 9-1-1
1986 Danny Ford 8-2-2
1987 Danny Ford 10-2
1988 Danny Ford 10-2
1991 Ken Hatfield 9-2-1
Conference Titles: 19

Note: Bold years indicate outright conference titles

  • Clemson isn't officially recognized the 1939 season as having claimed a conference title. Duke is credited as the Southern Conference champion for that season by most sources.

Conference Division Championships

Year Coach Record
2009 Dabo Swinney 9-5
ACC Atlantic Division Titles: 1

College Football Hall of Famers

Inductee Position(s) Class Year(s)
Jeff Davis Linebacker 2007 1978-1981
John Heisman Head Coach 1954 1900-1903
Frank Howard Head Coach 1989 1940-1969
Terry Kinard Safety 2001 1978-1982
Banks McFadden Halfback 1959 1937-1939
Jess Neely Head Coach 1971 1931-1939

Current NFL Players


  1. ^ NCAA Public Infraction Report
  2. ^ "Clemson placed on probation" (PDF). The NCAA News (National Collegiate Athletic Association) 19 (28): 10. 1982-11-29. Retrieved 2008-01-21.   Partial quote of the NCAA press release
  3. ^ For Release After 11 p.m. (EST)
  4. ^ Associated Press (1990-01-10). "Clemson Reveals It Is Under Inquiry by N.C.A.A.". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21.  
  5. ^ Associated Press (1990-06-01). "Clemson on Probation". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21.  
  6. ^ Associated Press (1990-01-19). "Clemson Drops Ford With $1 Million Deal". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21.  
  7. ^ Mark Schlabach, Bowden ousted at Clemson; coach 'deserved' to be fired, QB says,, October 13, 2008, Accessed October 13, 2008.
  8. ^ Associated Press, Clemson promotes interim coach Swinney to permanent job with 5-year deal,, December 1, 2008, Accessed December 1, 2008.
  9. ^ Georgia Game by Game against Opponents

External links


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