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The O'Rourke–McFadden Trophy was created in 2008 by the Boston College Gridiron Club in order to honor the tradition at Clemson and Boston College to honor the legacy of Charlie O'Rourke and Banks McFadden, members of the College Football Hall of Fame who played during the leather helmet era. The club plans to make this an annual presentation.
The Boston College Gridiron Club initiated the trophy to honor the relationship between Clemson and Boston College that began 78 years ago, in early 1940. The trophy was started to recognize the efforts of Tiger fans welcoming Boston College into the ACC, which BC joined in 2005.
The trophy features two leather helmet replicas of those used by O’Rourke of Boston College and McFadden of Clemson, when they competed against each other in the 1940 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. In addition to the trophy presentation, the Boston College Gridiron Club presents a replica leather helmet to the MVP of the winning school. The helmet will reflect the colors of the winning team.
Charlie O’Rourke led Boston College from the quarterback position to a 26–3–2 (.871) record in his three years (1938–40). One of those three losses was to McFadden and Clemson in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. O'Rourke went on to play quarterback and defensive back for the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Dons, and Baltimore Colts. After two years as an NFL coach, he coached at Massachusetts (1952–59). O’Rourke later served as commissioner of the Pop Warner League, a national organization of junior football teams. His jersey was retired at Boston College and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
Banks McFadden led the Tigers to a 9–1 record in 1939 as the starting quarterback. He was an All-American in football and basketball at Clemson. The 1939 football team finished 12th in the final AP poll (early December), for Clemson’s first top 20 season on record, and the win over Boston College in the Cotton Bowl was Clemson’s first bowl appearance. In the spring of 1939, he led Clemson to the Southern Conference Basketball championship. McFadden was Clemson’s first inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959. He was the fourth overall pick of the 1940 NFL Draft by the Brooklyn Dodgers. After one year in the NFL and a stint in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he returned to Clemson and held coaching positions in football, basketball, and track. McFadden became the first coach in college basketball history to improve his conference wins in five consecutive seasons.