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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, 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 goes back almost 70 years. The trophy was started to recognize the efforts of Tiger fans welcoming Boston College into the ACC. The trophy features two leather helmet replicas of those used by Charlie O’Rourke of Boston College and Banks McFadden of Clemson, when they competed against each other in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic 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 record in his three years as the quarterback of the Eagles between 1938–40. One of those three losses was to McFadden and Clemson in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic. O'Rourke later 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 from 1952–59. He later served as commissioner of the Pop Warner League, a national organization of junior football teams. O’Rourke had his jersey retired at Boston College and 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, Clemson’s first top 20 season on record, and the win over Boston College in the Cotton Bowl Classic 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. McFadden was the #4 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.