Clemson Tigers football
|Clemson Tigers football|
|Athletic director||Dan Radakovich|
|Head coach||Dabo Swinney
8th (7th full) year, 75–27 (.735)
|Stadium||Memorial Stadium (Clemson)|
|Seating capacity||81,500 (86,092 record)|
|Field surface||Natural Grass|
|Location||Clemson, South Carolina|
|Division||ACC Atlantic Division (2005–present)|
|All-time record||703–455–45 (.603)|
|Bowl record||20–19 (.513)|
|Playoff record||1–1 (.500)|
|Claimed nat'l titles||1 (1981)|
|National finalist||1 (2015)|
|Conference titles||21 (4 SIAA, 2 SoCon, 15 ACC)|
4 (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015)
Orange and Regalia
|Fight song||Tiger Rag|
|Marching band||Tiger Band|
|Rivals||South Carolina Gamecocks
Florida State Seminoles
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
NC State Wolfpack
Boston College Eagles
The Clemson Tigers football, known traditionally as the "Clemson University Fighting Tigers", represents Clemson University in the sport of American football. The Tigers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Formed in 1896, the program has over 700 wins and has achieved a consensus Division I Football National Championship, including #1 rankings in two National Football Championship Title games and was a College Football Playoff National Championship Finalist in 2016. Clemson has had 6 undefeated seasons including 3 perfect seasons, 21 conference championships, 4 divisional titles since 2005, and has produced 97 All-Americans, 17 Academic All-Americans, and 194 NFL players. Clemson has had six members inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, including former players Banks McFadden, Terry Kinard, Jeff Davis, and former coaches John Heisman, Jess Neely, and Frank Howard.
With 21 total conference titles, Clemson is one of the founding members of the ACC, and holds 15 ACC titles, the most of any charter member, and holds the most combined conference football titles of any Atlantic Coast Conference school. The Tigers' most recent ACC championship came in 2015 with a 13-0 regular season and a 45-37 win over #10 UNC.
Among its six undefeated regular seasons, Clemson was crowned poll-era National Champions and finished with its third perfect season with a win over Nebraska in the 48th Orange Bowl, and was the National Championship Finalist Runner-up with a 14-1 record in 2015. The Tigers have 39 bowl appearances, 17 of which are among the New Years Six Bowls, including 2 during the BCS era. Clemson has finished in the Final Top 25 rankings 31 times in the modern era, and finished in either the AP or Coaches Polls a combined 51 times since 1939.
The Tigers play their home games in Memorial Stadium on the university's Clemson, South Carolina campus. The stadium is also known as "Death Valley" after a Presbyterian College head coach gave it the moniker in 1948 due to the many defeats his teams suffered there. Currently, it is the 19th largest stadium in college football.
On Saturday November 14, 2015, Clemson defeated Syracuse to claim its fifth consecutive season with at least ten wins. Clemson's streak of five consecutive 10 win seasons ranks 2nd in active streaks behind the Alabama Crimson Tide. Florida State and Ohio State are tied for 3rd place with 4 consecutive 10 win seasons each.  Clemson currently has eleven straight seasons with a bowl game appearance.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early history (1896–1930)
- 1.2 Josh Cody era (1927–1930)
- 1.3 Jess Neely era (1931–1939)
- 1.4 Frank Howard era (1940–1969)
- 1.5 Hootie Ingram era (1970–1972)
- 1.6 Red Parker era (1973–1976)
- 1.7 Charlie Pell era (1977–1978)
- 1.8 Danny Ford era (1978–1989)
- 1.9 Ken Hatfield era (1990–1993)
- 1.10 Tommy West era (1993–1998)
- 1.11 Tommy Bowden era (1999–2008)
- 1.12 Dabo Swinney era (2008–present)
- 2 Coaches
- 3 Clemson traditions
- 4 Rivalries
- 5 Records and results
- 6 National polls
- 7 Individual award winners
- 8 Current NFL players
- 9 Future non-conference opponents
- 10 Recruiting
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Early history (1896–1930)
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. With little money to spend on uniforms, Riggs brought some of Auburn's old practice uniforms with him, which happened to have orange and navy jerseys. Because the jerseys had gone through a few washboard scrubbings, they were quite faded, the navy worse than the orange. So Riggs made the school’s predominant color orange and the faded condition of the navy became the purplish color, officially known today as Regalia.
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. Today in Clemson, the soccer field is named Historic Riggs field after Walter Riggs. 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.
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 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. Clemson stars under Heisman include Carl Sitton, Hope Sadler, and O. L. Derrick. Following a 73–0 defeat of Georgia Tech in 1903, the Yellow Jackets hired Heisman as their first full-time football coach.
After Heisman left Clemson to become the head coach at Georgia Tech, the following coaches led the Tigers football team:
- Shack Shealy (1904): 3–3–1 record - the only Clemson graduate (1899) to serve as head coach of his alma mater
- 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
- Bud Saunders (1923–1926): 10–22–1 record
Josh Cody era (1927–1930)
Josh Cody coached the Tigers from 1927 to 1930, posting a 29–11–1 record. The Tigers were undefeated at home (13-0-1) and against South Carolina (3–0) during Cody's tenure. O. K. Pressley made third-team All-American.
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 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. Clemson had two undefeated season under Howard, one in 1948 (11-0), and one in 1950 (9-0-1).
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" in 1974 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.
Hootie Ingram era (1970–1972)
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, which was designed by John Antonio of Henderson Advertising, was introduced in 1970 by Ingram and Clemson President R.C. Edwards.
Red Parker era (1973–1976)
Jimmy "Red" Parker coached the Tigers from 1973 to 1976, compiling a 17-25-2 record. The Tigers went 2-9 in 1975, and 3-6-2 in 1976, however, and Red Parker was cut loose by the Board of Trustees at the end of the Bicentennial season. Athletic Director Bill McClellan got the task of informing Parker he was gone when Parker refused to fire his assistants. Parker's 17-25-2 record earned him a .409 winning percentage.
Charlie Pell era (1977–1978)
Charlie Pell coached the Tigers for two seasons, winning the ACC Coach of the Year award twice and leading the Tigers to the 1978 ACC Championship en route to an 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)
Danny Ford was promoted from offensive line coach to head coach 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 fourth season, Ford guided Clemson to the summit of college football by winning the National Championship, and recording the program's fifth undefeated season. The Tigers, who were unranked in the preseason, downed three top-10 teams (Georgia, North Carolina and Nebraska) during the course of the 12-0 season that concluded with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. Ford, named National Coach-of-the-Year in 1981, holds the record as the youngest coach (33 years old) to win a national championship on the gridiron.
On November 22, 1982, the football program at Clemson 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.
More than 150 documented violations and 69 charges were cited 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, and improper recruiting contact. 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."
Between 1986 to 1989, Clemson posted three consecutive 10 win seasons and won three straight ACC titles, including a 35-10 victory over Penn State and a 13-6 defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners in the Florida Citrus Bowl. In 1989, Clemson registered a 10-2 season and top-12 national ranking for the fourth straight season, and ended his career at Clemson with a 27–7 win over West Virginia (and All-America quarterback Major Harris) in the 1989 Gator Bowl. Just five years after their first probation under Ford ended, Clemson once again found their football program accused of multiple recruiting violations in January 1990. 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. This chain of events led directly to the forced resignation of popular head coach Danny Ford.
While at Clemson, Ford also coached wins over a number of coaches later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, including Joe Paterno, Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer, Bobby Bowden, Vince Dooley, and Woody Hayes. After a few years away from coaching, Ford was hired by Arkansas in 1992, where he would spend five seasons guiding the Razorbacks.
Coach Ford compiled a 96–29–4 (.760) record at Clemson, 5 ACC Championships, and a 6–2 bowl record. He is second on the school's wins list, behind only Frank Howard. Ford was the third winningest coach in the country on a percentage basis after the 1989 season. Ford also coached 21 All-Americans and 41 players who went on to play in the NFL, during his 11 seasons at Clemson.
Ken Hatfield era (1990–1993)
Hatfield worked to clean up the program's image in the wake of the Ford-era sanctions. However, in the wake of Ford's success, Hatfield and many in the Clemson fanbase did not see eye-to-eye. A common saying among Tiger fans during this time was "Howard built it. Ford filled it. Hatfield killed it." This sentiment followed Clemson's first losing season (1992) since 1976.
Largely due to this discontent, school officials refused to grant him a one-year extension on his contract after the 1993 season, even though the Tigers had rebounded from 5–6 in 1992 to an 8–3 record that year and were invited to the Peach Bowl. Expressing "much disappointment" in what he saw as a lack of support by Clemson fans and several university officials, Hatfield resigned at the end of the regular season. He was later hired at Rice.
The purple home jerseys used by Clemson in special games made their debut during the 1991 ACC championship season, with the Tigers wearing them in the regular season against NC State and in the Citrus Bowl vs. California.
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. 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 start 1–4 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.
Dabo Swinney era (2008–present)
Following the departure of Tommy Bowden, wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney was dubbed interim head coach and led the Tigers to a 4–2 record, finishing the 2008 regular season at 7–6. On December 1, 2008, Swinney signed a five-year contract as Clemson's permanent head coach.
On November 21, 2009, Swinney and the Tigers qualified for their first ACC title game berth, only to lose to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 39–34. They were awarded a trip to the 2009 Music City Bowl, and defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 21–13, avenging their upset loss in the 2006 Music City Bowl.
On December 31, 2010 Clemson was defeated by the South Florida Bulls, 31–26, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina. In January 2011, Swinney hired new offensive coordinator Chad Morris, In December 2011, Morris became tied with Gus Malzahn as the highest paid assistant in college football after Clemson gave Morris a six-year contract worth $1.3 million annually. Dabo also added on running backs coach Tony Elliott, and defensive line coach Marion Hobby.
On September 17, 2011, Clemson beat the defending national champions, the #21-ranked Auburn Tigers, and ended Auburn's 17-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in the nation. On October 1, 2011, Clemson became the first ACC team to beat three nationally ranked opponents in a row: #21-ranked Auburn, #11-ranked Florida State, and #11-ranked Virginia Tech. On November 12, 2011, Clemson defeated Wake Forest, winning the ACC Atlantic Division title. On November 26, 2011, Clemson lost to South Carolina for the third straight year, the first time Clemson had lost three straight to its instate rival since the seasons from 1968 to 1970. On December 3, the Tigers won their first ACC Championship since 1991, defeating Virginia Tech 38-10 in the Championship Game. #15 Clemson would go on to lose to the #23 West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2012 Orange Bowl 70-33, giving up an all-time record number of points scored in a quarter (35), half (49) and game (70) in the 109-year history of bowl games.
On Dec. 31, 2012, Clemson achieved its first 11-win season since the national championship year with a last-second upset win over the #8 LSU Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clemson trailed 24-13 in the fourth quarter, but rallied back with a game winning drive that saw a 4th and 16 conversion deep in their own territory that would lead to Chandler Catanzaro's 37-yard field goal as time expired to give Clemson a 25-24 win.
The 2013 season was historic for the Clemson football program. The Tigers began the season with a 38-35 home victory over rival and fifth-ranked Georgia and finished 11-2 in 2013 and secured the school's first ever BCS bowl win with a 40-35 victory over #7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins set Orange Bowl yardage records. Boyd compiled 505 total yards and threw five touchdowns. It was the Tigers fourth win over a top 10 opponent under Swinney.
Clemson finished 10-3 in 2014, highlighted by a 35-17 win over arch-rival South Carolina and a 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Tigers took on ACC rival Florida State in week 3 of their season only to suffer a heartbreaking loss in overtime as #22 Clemson lost to #1 Florida State 17-23. The Tigers then claimed a six-game winning streak in the middle of their season but lost to Georgia Tech as star freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson went out with a knee injury early in the 1st quarter. The Tigers claimed the nation's #1 ranked defense under defensive coordinator Brent Venables in 2014, and the emergence of freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson propelled the Tigers to another 10-win season for the 4th time in Dabo Swinney's six years as head coach.
The 2015 season is regarded as the one of the most successful seasons in Clemson history. The Tigers possesed the nation's #1 ranking throughout the 2nd half of the regular season and ended with 14-1 overall record. Behind the leadership of Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson, the Tigers won the 2015 ACC Championship against #10 North Carolina by a score of 45-37. The Tigers were selected to participate in the 2016 College Football Playoff as the #1 seeded team in the tournament. Clemson defeated the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the 2015 Orange Bowl by a score of 37-17 to advance to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game against the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on January 11, 2016. Clemson lost the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game to Alabama, 45-40 ending the school's 17 game winning streak. Heisman Finalist quarterback Deshaun Watson had a historic performance setting the record for most total yards in national championship game history, with 478 yards (405 passing / 73 rushing) against the nation's best defense, and becoming the first player in history to amass over 4000 yards passing and 1000 yards rushing in a single season.
Current coaching staff
|Dabo Swinney||Head Coach||University of Alabama|
|Jeff Scott||Co-Offensive Coordinator||Clemson University|
|Brent Venables||Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach||Kansas State University|
|Michael Reed||Defensive Backs Coach||Boston College|
|Dan Brooks||Defensive Line Coach||Western Carolina University|
|Tony Elliott||Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach||Clemson University|
|Marion Hobby||Defensive Ends Coach||University of Tennessee|
|Danny Pearman||Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends/Offensive Tackles Coach||Clemson University|
|Robbie Caldwell||Offensive Line Coach||Furman University|
|Brandon Streeter||Quarterbacks Coach/Recruiting Coordinator||Clemson University|
Career coaching records
|1896-1899||Walter M Riggs||2||6-3||.667|
|1897||William M. Williams||1||2-2||.500|
|1898||John A. Penton||1||3-1||.750|
|1900-1903||John W. Heisman||4||19-3-2||.833|
|1905||Edward B. "Eddie" Cochems||1||3-2-1||.583|
|1907||Frank J. Shaughnessy||1||4-4-0||.500|
|1908||John N. Stone||1||1-6-0||.143|
|1910-1912||Frank M. Dobson||3||11-12-1||.479|
|1917- 1920||Edward A. Donahue||4||21-12-3||.625|
|1921 - 1922||Edward J. "Doc" Stewart||2||6-10-2||.389|
|1923 - 1926||Bud Saunders||4||10-22-1||.318|
|1927 - 1930||Josh C. Cody||4||29-11-1||.720|
|1931 -1939||Jess C. Neely||9||43-35-7||.547|
|1940 - 1969||Frank Howard||30||165-118-12||.580|
|1970 - 1972||Hootie Ingram||3||12-21||.364|
|1973 - 1976||Jimmy "Red" Parker||4||17-25-2||.409|
|1977 - 1978||Charley Pell||2||18-4-1||.804|
|1978 - 1989||Danny Ford||12||96-29-4||.760|
|1990 - 1993||Ken Hatfield||4||32-13-1||.707|
|1993 - 1998||Tommy West||6||31-28||.526|
|1999 - 2008||Tommy Bowden||10||72-45||.615|
|2008 - current||Dabo Swinney||8||75-26||.742|
|Totals||25 coaches||118 seasons||703-455-45||.603|
- Howard's Rock In the early 1960s, the rock was given to then head coach Frank Howard by a friend, Samuel Columbus Jones (Clemson Class of 1919). It was presented to Howard by Jones, saying "Here's a rock from Death Valley, California, to Death Valley, South Carolina." Howard didn't think anything else about the rock and it was used as a door stop in his office for several years. In September 1966, while cleaning out his office, Howard noticed the rock and told IPTAY executive director Gene Willimon, "Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the ditch...do something with it, but get it out of my office." Willimon had the rock placed on a pedestal at the top of the east endzone hill that the team ran down to enter the field for games. On September 24, 1966, the first time Clemson players ran by the rock, they beat conference rival Virginia, 40-35. Howard, seizing on the motivational potential of "The Rock", told his players, "Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off of my rock." The team started rubbing the Rock for the first game of 1967, which was a 23-6 waxing of ACC foe Wake Forest.
- As a result, it is now a tradition for the Clemson Army ROTC to protect the Rock for the 24 hours prior to the Clemson-South Carolina game when held in Death Valley. ROTC cadets keep a steady drum cadence around the rock prior to the game, which can be heard across the campus. Part of the tradition comes after unknown parties vandalized the Rock prior to the 1992 South Carolina-Clemson game. On June 2, 2013, Howard's Rock was again vandalized when the case containing it was broken and a portion of the rock was removed by an apparent fan of the Tigers, who was eventually arrested following a police investigation.
- Running Down the Hill Probably the most highly publicized tradition of the Clemson Tigers football team is the entrance, which Brent Musburger referred to as "The Most Exciting 25 seconds in College Football." Running down "The Hill" originally started out of practicality. Before the west stands were built, the football team dressed across the street at Fike Field House and ran from there to the gate and down the hill onto the field. Now, after exiting the stadium on the west side, the players load into 2 buses which, escorted by police officers, make their way around the stadium to the east side where The Hill is located. This scene is shown on the JumboTron inside the stadium. When the buses arrive at the east side the players get out and gather at the top of the hill and stand around Howard's Rock; once most of the players are out of the buses and ready to go a cannon sounds; the band begins to play Tiger Rag and the players make their way down the hill. The spelling out of C-L-E-M-S-O-N during this Tiger Rag is one of, if not the, loudest times it will be spelled out during the game.
- Ring of Honor Created in 1994, the Ring of Honor is the highest award given to former coaches, players, and other individuals who made a direct impact on the football program.
- The Graveyard The Graveyard is a mock cemetery near the football practice fields that features tombstones commemorating Clemson's victories over ranked opponents on the road.
- First Friday Parade The Clemson football season kicks off each year with the annual First Friday Parade. The once a year event takes place on the Friday afternoon prior to the first home football game. Floats from various fraternities and sororities and other campus organizations are represented in the parade that rolls down main street in Clemson. The parade culminates at the Amphitheater in the middle of campus where the first Pep Rally of the year takes place. The Grand Marshal of the Parade is featured at the Pep Rally. Recent Grand Marshals have ranged from current PGA professional Dillard Pruitt, to College Football Hall of Fame legends Jess Neely and Frank Howard, to noted television announcers Brent Musburger and Ara Parseghian.
- Tailgating On October 15, 2012, Southern Living named Clemson the South's best tailgate.
The Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is the largest annual sporting event in terms of ticket sales in the state of South Carolina. Clemson holds a 67–42–4 lead in the series which dates back to 1896. Historically, the final score in the game, (on average), has been decided by less than a touchdown. From 1896 to 1959, the Clemson-South Carolina game was played, on the fairgrounds, in Columbia, SC and was referred to as "Big Thursday". In 1960 an alternating-site format was implemented utilizing both teams' home stadiums. The annual game has since been designated "The Palmetto Bowl." The last eight contests between the programs have been nationally televised (4 on ESPN, 4 on ESPN2).
Clemson's rivalry with Georgia Tech dates to 1898 with the first game being played in Atlanta. The game was played in Atlanta for 44 of the first 47 match-ups, until Georgia Tech joined the ACC. 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). Georgia Tech leads the series 51-28-2. However, Clemson leads the series 16-15 since Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1983.
The yearly conference and divisional match-up with 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 Clemson currently holds a 55-28-1 series advantage, including having won 11 of the last 12 games played. The series has been played annually since 1971.
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 Clemson winning in 5 of the last 6 meetings. As of 2014 the Tigers lead the series 14-9-2.
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 2003, Clemson is 6-6, 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 2015, Florida State leads the overall series 20-9.
The Bulldogs and the Tigers have played each other 63 times beginning in 1897, with the 64th meeting having been scheduled to be played in 2014. Clemson’s only regular-season losses of the 1978, 1982, and 1991 campaigns all came at the hands of Georgia "between the hedges", whereas Georgia’s only regular-season setback during the three years of the Herschel Walker era came in Death Valley during Danny Ford's 1981 national championship run.
During the two programs’ simultaneous glory days of the early 1980s, no rivalry in all of college football was more important at the national level.[according to whom?] The Bulldogs and Tigers played each other every season from 1973 to 1987, with Scott Woerner’s dramatic returns in 1980 and the nine turnovers forced by the Tigers in 1981 effectively settling the eventual national champion. No rivalry of that period was more competitive, as evidenced by the critical eleventh-hour field goals kicked by Kevin Butler in 1984 and by David Treadwell more than once later in the decade. Despite blowouts in 1990 by the Tigers and in 1994 and 2003 by the Bulldogs, the series typically has remained very competitive with evenly-matched games.
Georgia currently[when?] maintains a 41–18-4 lead in the series, with 34 games having been played at Georgia, 21 games having been played at Clemson, and 8 games having been played at a neutral site (either Augusta, Georgia or Anderson, South Carolina). Georgia had won 5 games in a row, dating back to 1991, until Clemson won a top-10 match-up to open the 2013 season in Death Valley. On August 31, 2013, No. 8 Clemson hosted No. 5 Georgia as the season opener for both teams featuring senior starting quarterbacks, star-studded offenses and questions to be answered on both teams' defenses. This top-10 match-up was chosen as the ESPN game of the week, and Clemson hosted ESPN's College Gameday for just the second time. Clemson won the game by the score of 38 to 35.
Their last match-up was in 2014 in Athens where the Bulldogs defeated Clemson, 45–21.
These old rivals first played in 1899, but until 2010, had not faced each other in the regular season since 1971. Auburn leads the overall series 34-13-2 and had won 14 games in a row, dating back to 1952, before Clemson snapped the streak in 2011, by beating #22 ranked Auburn 38-24 in Death Valley, in front of a crowd of exactly 82,000. Along with snapping one streak, Clemson also snapped Auburn's seventeen-game winning streak coming off of the 2009-2011 seasons. The Georgia Dome hosted the Auburn-Clemson rivalry in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Clemson defeated Auburn 26-19 riding on a 231-yard performance by Andre Ellington. This game was notable due to Sammy Watkins' absence, having been suspended the first two games due to a drug-related arrest in May 2012. The series is scheduled to be revived following a three-year hiatus in 2016 at Auburn and 2017 at Clemson.
Records and results
Clemson finished their undefeated 1981 season with a 22-15 victory over the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and were named the national champions by all major selectors.
|1981||Danny Ford||AP, UPI/Coaches' Poll†||12-0||Orange Bowl||Nebraska||22||15|
† Other consensus selectors included Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, Litkenhous, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, NY Times, Poling, Sagarin, and Sporting News
Clemson was selected as the one seed in the second College Football Playoff and defeated the fourth seed Oklahoma on December 31, 2015. They lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the championship game on January 11, 2016.
|2015||1||#4 Oklahoma||Semi-Finals – Orange Bowl||W 37-17|
|#2 Alabama||Finals – CFP National Championship Game||L 45-40|
|Total Playoff Record||1–1|
Undefeated regular seasons
Since its beginnings in 1896, Clemson has completed six undefeated regular seasons. This includes three perfect seasons in which the Tigers were undefeated and untied.
|Total Undefeated Regular Seasons:||6 (3 Perfect)|
Clemson won the Southern Inercollegiate Athletic Association in 1900 and 1902 (tied 1903 and 1906) along with the Southern Conference title in 1940 and 1948. Their 15 ACC titles (14 outright, 1 tied) is the most ACC football championships.
|Year||Coach||Conference||Overall Record||Conference Record|
|1900||John Heisman||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||6–0||4–0|
|1902||John Heisman||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||6–1||6–0|
|1903||John Heisman||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||4–1–1||2–0–1|
|1906||Bob Williams||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||4–0–3||4–0|
|1940||Frank Howard||Southern Conference||6–2–1||4–0|
|1948||Frank Howard||Southern Conference||11–0||5–0|
|1956||Frank Howard||Atlantic Coast Conference||7–2–2||4–0–1|
|1958||Frank Howard||Atlantic Coast Conference||8–3||5–1|
|1959||Frank Howard||Atlantic Coast Conference||9–2||6–1|
|1965||Frank Howard||Atlantic Coast Conference||5–5||5–2|
|1966||Frank Howard||Atlantic Coast Conference||6–4||6–1|
|1967||Frank Howard||Atlantic Coast Conference||6–4||6–0|
|1978||Charley Pell||Atlantic Coast Conference||11–1||6–0|
|1981||Danny Ford||Atlantic Coast Conference||12–0||6–0|
|1982||Danny Ford||Atlantic Coast Conference||9–1–1||6–0|
|1986||Danny Ford||Atlantic Coast Conference||8–2–2||5–1–1|
|1987||Danny Ford||Atlantic Coast Conference||10–2||6–1|
|1988||Danny Ford||Atlantic Coast Conference||10–2||6–1|
|1991||Ken Hatfield||Atlantic Coast Conference||9–2–1||6–0–1|
|2011||Dabo Swinney||Atlantic Coast Conference||10–4||6–2|
|2015||Dabo Swinney||Atlantic Coast Conference||14–1||8–0|
|Conference Titles: 21|
In 1965, South Carolina violated participation rules relating to two ineligibile players and was required to forfeit wins against North Carolina State and Clemson. North Carolina State and Clemson were then declared co-champions.
- 1899–1921: Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (charter member)
- 1921–1953: Southern Conference (charter member)
- 1953–present: Atlantic Coast Conference (charter member)
In 2005, the Atlantic Coast Conference divided into two divisions of six teams each and began holding an ACC Championship Game at the conclusion of the regular football season to determine the ACC Football Champions. Clemson won its first outright ACC Atlantic Division championship in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2012, Clemson tied for a share of the Atlantic Division Championship and was named co-champion of the division.
|Year||Coach||Division Championship||Game Result||Opponent||PF||PA|
|2009||Dabo Swinney||ACC Atlantic||L†||Georgia Tech||34||39|
|2011||Dabo Swinney||ACC Atlantic||W||Virginia Tech||38||10|
|2012‡||Dabo Swinney||ACC Atlantic|
|2015||Dabo Swinney||ACC Atlantic||W||North Carolina||45||37|
† On 7/18/2011, Georgia Tech was required to vacate their victory due to NCAA violations and the game is considered by the NCAA and ACC to have no winner.
‡ Clemson finished 7-1 in the ACC and was named co-champion of the Atlantic Division per ACC rules. Florida State played in the ACC Championship by owning the tie-breaker advantage.
Clemson has ended their football season ranked 27 times in either the AP or Coaches Poll. Clemson currently has four consecutive 10 win seasons for the second time in school history. It is the 4th longest active streak behind Alabama(7), Oregon(7) and NIU(5). FSU and Ohio State are tied for 5th place with 3 each. <http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2313812-russell-athletic-bowl-2014-live-score-highlights-for-oklahoma-vs-clemson>
† AP Poll began selecting the nation's Top 20 teams in 1936. Only the Top 10 teams were recognized from 1962 to 1967. The AP Poll expanded back to the Top 20 teams in 1968. In 1989, it began recognizing the Top 25 teams.
‡ UPI/Coaches Poll began selecting its Top 20 teams on a weekly basis in 1950 before expanding to the nations's Top 25 teams in 1990.
Individual award winners
College Football Hall of Fame inductees
|Name||Years at Clemson||Position||Year Inducted|
|John Heisman||1900–1903||Head Coach||1954|
|Frank Howard||1940–1969||Head Coach||1989|
|Jess Neely||1931–1939||Head Coach||1971|
|Number||Name||Years at Clemson||Position||Year Retired|
|4||Steve Fuller +||1975–1978||Quarterback||1979|
|28||CJ Spiller||2006–2009||Running Back||2010|
National award winners
National coaching awards
Clemson players have been honored 23 times as consensus All-Americans.
|2009||C. J. Spiller||28||KR/AP|
Atlantic Coast Conference awards
Atlantic Coast Conference 50th Anniversary football team
On July 23, 2002 in celebration of the Atlantic Coast Conference's 50th Anniversary, a 120-member blue ribbon committee selected the Top 50 football players in ACC history. Clemson led all conference schools with the most players selected to the Golden Anniversary team. Each of Clemson's honorees were All-Americans and former NFL players. The nine selectees from Clemson were:
Current NFL players
- Dwayne Allen - Tight End, Indianapolis Colts
- Stephone Anthony - Linebacker, New Orleans Saints
- Tavaris Barnes - Defensive End, New Orleans Saints
- Vic Beasley - Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons
- Da'Quan Bowers - Defensive End, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Andre Branch - Defensive End, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Bashaud Breeland - Cornerback, Washington Redskins
- Jaron Brown - Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals
- Kourtnei Brown - Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Martavis Bryant - Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Crezdon Butler - Cornerback, Detroit Lions
- Chandler Catanzaro - Placekicker, Arizona Cardinals
- Kavell Conner - Linebacker, San Diego Chargers
- Corey Crawford -Defensive End, Washington Redskins
- Andre Ellington - Running Back, Arizona Cardinals
- Dalton Freeman - Center, Houston Texans
- Marcus Gilchrist - Cornerback, New York Jets
- Malliciah Goodman - Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons
- Chris Hairston - Offensive Tackle, San Diego Chargers
- DeAndre Hopkins - Wide Receiver, Houston Texans
- Adam Humphries - Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Grady Jarrett - Defensive Tackle, Atlanta Falcons
- Jarvis Jenkins - Defensive End, Chicago Bears
- Byron Maxwell - Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
- Jonathan Meeks - Safety, Buffalo Bills
- Bradley Pinion - Punter, San Francisco 49ers
- Coty Sensabaugh - Defensive Back, Tennessee Titans
- Tyler Shatley - Offensive Guard, Jacksonville Jaguars
- C.J. Spiller - Running Back, New Orleans Saints
- Tony Steward - Linebacker, Buffalo Bills
- Brandon Thomas - Offensive Guard, San Francisco 49ers
- Brandon Thompson - Defensive Tackle, Cincinnati Bengals
- Sammy Watkins - Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills
- Charlie Whitehurst - Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
- DeShawn Williams - Defensive Tackle, Cincinnati Bengals
All-time record vs. current ACC teams
|Opponent||Won||Lost||Tied||Percentage||Streak||First Meeting||Last Meeting|
|Boston College||14||9||2||.600||Won 5||1940||2015|
|Florida State||9||20||0||.321||Won 1||1970||2015|
|Georgia Tech||28||51||2||.358||Won 1||1898||2015|
|North Carolina||37||19||1||.658||Won 3||1897||2015|
|North Carolina State||55||28||1||.661||Won 4||1899||2015|
|Virginia Tech||20||12||1||.621||Won 3||1900||2012|
|Wake Forest||63||17||1||.784||Won 7||1933||2015|
Future non-conference opponents
Announced schedules as of August 13, 2015
|at Auburn||vs Kent State||at Texas A&M||vs Texas A&M||at Notre Dame||vs Wyoming||at Notre Dame||vs Notre Dame||vs South Carolina|
|vs Troy||vs Auburn||vs Furman||vs Wofford||vs Akron||at South Carolina||vs Furman||vs Wofford|
|vs South Carolina State||vs The Citadel||vs South Carolina||vs Charlotte||vs South Carolina||vs South Carolina||at South Carolina|
|vs South Carolina||at South Carolina||vs Georgia Southern||at South Carolina||vs Louisiana Tech|
Clemson Tigers Football from Rivals.com  team recruitment rankings:
- "NCAA Football Award Winners" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2014. pp. 4–12. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- "Clemson Color Palette".
- "2015 Clemson Football Media Guide" (PDF). Clemson University. 2015. p. 51. Retrieved 28 Oct 2015.
- "2011 Clemson Media Guide & Supplement". Clemson Sports Information. 2011. pp. 182–188, 190–194. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- "John Heisman". CBSSports.com COLLEGE NETWORK. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- "John Heisman". John Heisman. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- "Gift from Death Valley became "Death Valley" tradition". Mark Schlabach. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- Brenner, Aaron (2013-05-30). "1970 designer of Clemson’s Tiger Paw logo, John Antonio, dies of cancer". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "Red Parker returns to The Citadel". Ken Burger/ The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- Sumner, Jim. Looking Back... A Walk Through Clemson's 1981 National Championship Season. TheACC.com, 2006-10-10.
- Severe Sanctions Levied On Clemson
- List of Charges Made Against Clemson by NCAA
- Clemson: 2 Years NCAA Probation, 20 Scholarships Cut
- "2008 Clemson Football Media Guide" (PDF). Clemson University. 2008.
- 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.
- NCAA Hits Clemson on Recruiting Violations
- Associated Press (1990-06-01). "Clemson on Probation". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- Associated Press (1990-01-19). "Clemson Drops Ford With $1 Million Deal". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- Hanley, Brian. Clemson gets "Real McCoy". Chicago Sun-Times, 1990-12-30.
- Clemson coach quits. The New York Times, 1993-11-25.
- "HISTORY OF BOWDEN BOWL". MSN TV. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- Mark Schlabach, Bowden ousted at Clemson; coach 'deserved' to be fired, QB says, ESPN.com, October 13, 2008, Accessed October 13, 2008.
- Associated Press, Clemson promotes interim coach Swinney to permanent job with 5-year deal, ESPN.com, December 1, 2008, Accessed December 1, 2008.
- "West Virginia Mountaineers vs Clemson Tigers - Recap". ESPN.com.
- Dabo Swinney#cite note-19
- "Clemson Football - Tigers News, Scores, Videos - College Football - ESPN". ESPN.com.
- "Venables Named Defensive Coordinator-of-the-Year". ClemsonTigers.com.
- "2011 Clemson Football Coaches". Clemson University Athletics. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- Clemson Alumni Association, "Clemson Alumni: Today 2008", Harris Connect, Inc., Chesapeake, Virginia, 2007, no ISBN, page 1904.
- Howard, Frank, with Bradley, Bob, and Parker, Virgil, "Howard", Howard, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1990, ISBN 0-934904-22-7, page 132.
- Bradley, Bob, "Death Valley Days", Longstreet Press, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, 1991, Library of Congress card number 91-061931, ISBN 1-56352-006-0, page 17.
- Clemson Athletic Department, "2001 Clemson Football", Keys Printing, Greenville, South Carolina, 2001, no ISBN , page 340.
- "TigerNet -- Football -- Traditions -- Running Down the Hill". thetigernet.com.
- "Herald-Journal - Google News Archive Search". google.com.
- "Clemson arrests, charges man in connection to Howard's Rock vandalism". ESPN.com.
- "Clemson Wins The South’s Best Tailgate". southernliving.com. October 15, 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- "South Carolina vs Clemson 1869-2012". stassen.com.
- "South Carolina Game by Game against Opponents". cfbdatawarehouse.com.
- Papanek, John (January 11, 1982). "Year of the Tigers". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Past Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I FBS) National Champions". NCAA. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Clemson Yearly Totals". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- "2014 Clemson Football Media Guide" (PDF). Clemson University. 2014. p. 66. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "ACC Champions" (PDF). 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Media Guide (PDF) (Atlantic Coast Conference): Page 93. 2007. Retrieved 2011-09-05
- Alex Riley (October 11, 2009). "USC football's lost title team of 1965". The State. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- ESPN.com (July 18, 2011). "NCAA places Georgia Tech on probation". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- "Clemson in the Polls". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Hall of Famers: Clemson". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "College Football Consensus All Americans". winsipedia.com. January 30, 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "ACC 50th Anniversary Football Team Announced". theacc.com. July 23, 2002. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Clemson Tigers Football Schedules and Future Schedules". fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- Bob Bradley, Sam Blackman, Chuck Kriese (1999). Clemson: Where the Tigers Play - The History of Clemson University Athletics. Sports Publishing. ISBN 1-58261-369-9.