By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
In 1951, the presidents of the 17-member Southern Conference decided they needed to deemphasize football. A week after the season started, they recommended and voted that the conference ban bowl competition by member schools, effective that year.
This move, ultimately led to the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953.
In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, Maryland and Clemson were two of the best teams in the Southern Conference and started gaining a reputation as a national power as well.
From 1948-’59, the Tigers appeared in six bowl games—there were only six bowl games in those days—while winning the Southern Conference once and three ACC Championships. Seven times they finished ranked in the Final Associated Press Top 20 poll.
Maryland had even a better reputation. From 1947-’55, Maryland turned into a powerhouse under the great Jim Tatum. The Terrapins won the 1948 and 1950 Gator Bowls before beating National Champion Tennessee in the 1952 Sugar Bowl. In those days the national champion was decided before the bowl games took place. Maryland finished the 1951 season 11-0.
Prior to their 1952 Bowl Season, Clemson and Maryland both accepted bids to play in bowl games despite the wishes of the Southern Conference presidents. Clemson was to play Miami in the 1952 Gator Bowl, while Maryland was heading to New Orleans to play Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl.
Before the two were to play in their respected bowl games, the Southern Conference placed both schools on probation as neither school could play a Southern Conference foe in 1952, except each other, unless there was a rule that forced them to play another member of the conference.
The South Carolina General Assembly passed a law or resolution requiring Clemson and South Carolina to play their traditional game during the State Fair in 1952.
“I don’t know what kind of punishment they call it, but tearing up our schedule is a little bit harsher than we expected,” then Clemson head football coach and athletic director Frank Howard said to the media at the time. “Shucks, I don’t mind it as much as some of the teams we are playing. It’s going to hurt them more than us.”
Prior to the 1952 season, talk had already begun about forming a new conference, and part of the reason was the Southern Conference’s ban on bowl games. At the Southern Conference’s annual meeting on May 8, 1953, seven schools withdrew to form the ACC. Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina and Wake Forest were the ACC’s charter members.
Maryland wasted no time bringing national recognition to the new conference as it again posted an undefeated regular season and was recognized as the Associated Press National Champion in 1953.
Prior to the 1952 probation season, Clemson and Maryland never played in football. When the Tigers and Terps take to the field at Byrd Stadium on Oct. 26, it will mark the 62nd straight season the two have played, but it will also mark the last time they will play for the unforeseeable future.
Last fall, Maryland decided to leave the ACC and join the Big 10. It’s fitting the last possible game between these two team ends in the same place it began all those years ago after they stood up to the Southern Conference and dared the rest of the conference to take a stand with them.
Maryland won that first game 28-0, but Clemson has come back to win 33 games since then and leads the all-time series 33-26-2. For the most part it has been one of the best rivalries in the ACC.
Both have won national championships. Of the charter members, no school has won more ACC Championships in football than Clemson (14) and Maryland (9). From 1981-’88, only Clemson (5) and Maryland (3) won an ACC Championship. The 1978 game, a 28-24 Clemson victory to win the ACC Championship, is still considered one of the greatest games in ACC history.
Oct. 26 @ Byrd Stadium
ACC Atlantic: 2-6, fifth place
The series: Clemson leads 33-26-2. Tigers have won the last three meetings
Offense registers concealed weapons
Returning starters: 5
QB: The offense was built around C.J. Brown last year, but then he went down with a torn ACL in the first week of camp and was lost for the season. Brown is expected to be back when camp starts in August and he is expected to make the Terrapins competitive in their last year in the ACC. Ricardo Young, whom offensive coordinator Mike Locksley recruited at New Mexico, ran the offense all spring and is expected to challenge Brown in camp.
RB: Sophomore Wes Brown will be coming back from off-season shoulder surgery. At 6-foot-1, 210-pounds, he possesses the best combination of speed and power for the Terps backfield. He missed all of spring practice because of the shoulder. Brandon Ross, who led the team with 390 yards and had 4.6 yards per carry average, will also get a good strong look at the starting job. Albert Reid, who had problems holding onto the football last year, will also be in the mix.
WR: Stefon Diggs might be the most explosive player in the ACC. And yes, that includes Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. Diggs broke onto the scene last year as a true freshman as he led the ACC in all-purpose yards with 1,896. Junior College All-American Deon Long should help take some of the pressure off Diggs this year. Long caught 100 passes for 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns last season to lead the country at the JUCO level. Marcus Leak, Nigel King and Levern Jacobs all return from injury this year as well.
TE: Another New Mexico transfer, Daniel Adams, is a big pass catching threat for the Terps this year. He will challenge starter and senior Dave Stinebaugh for the job.
OL: Maryland allowed an ACC-high 3.17 sacks per game last season, while the running game averaged 2.6 yards per carry. It will not get any better this year. The Terps will bring back little experience, but there is optimism for the future. Sophomore left tackle Mike Madaras is a rising star and they think guards De’Onte Arnett and Andrew Zeller should be better. The center position will come down to Sal Conaboy and Evan Mulrooney.
Returning starters: 4
DL: As bad as the Terps were last year, their defense was not the issue. In fact, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said they were one of the top four or five defenses they played all year. But losing All-ACC player Joe Velano and A.J. Francis will be tough on the defensive line. Darius Kilgo is back at nose tackle after having a good 2012 season, while Quinton Jefferson and Keith Bowers will play the defensive end positions. Bowers has played in 21 games the last two seasons for Maryland.
LB: Junior Cole Farrand returns after fracturing his ankle in the spring. He led the Terps with 78 tackles last season. L.A. Goree is also back after starting the last three games last season when Demetrius Hartsfield went out with an injury. Alex Twine, a junior, and Marcus Whitfield, a senior, also have a great deal of experience as both played in all 12 games last year.
DB: Jeremiah Johnson started to earn the reputation as a lockdown corner after a terrific season in 2012 in which he led the team with eight passes broken up. His partner at corner, Dexter McDougle, who has started every game the last two seasons, finished third on the team with 71 tackles in 2012. Sophomores Sean Davis and Anthony Nixon will likely get the nod at the safety positions. Both played in all 12 games last season due to injuries at the safety positions. Junior A.J. Hendy is also battling for playing time with Davis at the free safety position.
PK: Brad Craddock had his ups and downs last season after making 10 of 16 field goals, including four misses inside 40 yards. But he has the leg. He just needs to be more consistent.
P: Nathan Renfro averaged 39.7 yards per punt last year, but the Terps were last in the ACC with a net average of 33.1 yards.
SP: Diggs had kickoff returns of 100 and 99 yards last season and finished second in the ACC with a 28.5-yard average on kick returns.
Bottom line: Maryland lost 10 players last year to season-ending injuries, including four quarterbacks. Because of all the injuries, the Terrapins played 15 freshmen, the third most in the FBS.