By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
When a couple of his former players called him and asked if they could buy him lunch, Danny Ford knew something wasn’t right.
“If they called me and said, ‘Hey, will you buy me lunch, I can understand that,” the former Clemson head coach said with a chuckle. “But they called me and said they wanted to feed me lunch. I knew then something was up.”
So Ford met with the two players, who played on the 1981 team, at the ESSO Club in Clemson. This was summer prior to the team’s induction into the Ring of Honor in 2011. They wanted to know if he would allow them to put his name with the 1981 team in the Ringer of Honor.
“I told them I did not think that I will and I don’t know if I want to,” Ford said. “They told me that if I do it, then it was going to be a Clemson policy from here on out if I did it for any Clemson team that has or will win a national championship. The coach’s name will always go underneath it.
“That’s the reason why I agreed to do it.”
Ford was fine with idea, though he believes his name does not need to be in the Ring of Honor to begin with. Now Ford’s name will stand alone in Memorial Stadium’s Ring of Honor when Clemson officially honors the former head coach with an induction ceremony next Saturday in conjunction with the Georgia game to kick off the 2013 football season.
Ford joins the likes of Clemson football greats such as Frank Howard, Jeff Davis, Jerry Butler, Fred Cone, Steve Fuller, Terry Kinard, Banks McFadden and longtime sports information director Bob Bradley in the Ring of Honor as well as the 1981 team.
“There are some awful good names in there,” Ford said. “I’m just a little different. Coaches should not be in there. I’m not going to worry about it because I’m going to be dead, gone and in the grave someday, but whose name are they going to take off first when they fill it up?
“There is no way with a history like Clemson, as long as they play football, that it can’t fill up. What are they going to do then?”
Joking aside, Ford says it never bothered him he was not in the Ring of Honor. He knows his former players were upset by it, and of course many of Clemson’s fans, but it truly was a non-issue to him.
“I have always thought, and I still do, that coaches are less of a factor in something like that than the players and the team,” he said.
But there is one thing that makes Ford happy that it is going to happen.
“I think some of the other players that were not on the 1981 team, felt neglected about that,” he said. “I would think with Coach Howard’s name up there that any of the thirty nine teams he coached, they feel like they were a part of that.
“The situation I had because I was on the ’81 team, guys were thinking, ‘Well, I played on the ’79 team and went through Hell and the same practices and he was our coach, too.’ So now, maybe that ’79-’89, or whatever it was, will say, ‘I may not have played a down, but I was a part of it’ or ‘I played every down and I was part of it’ or ‘I’m the reason he is up there to begin with because I made this catch or did this.’
“If it makes them happy, then so be it. It has been a big-to-do about a lot of nothing to me. It really has because it has never bothered me. People might say it should have been done a long time ago and some people might say it should not be done anyway or he is already up there so why worry about it, but I never spent a day worrying about it.
“I used to love to kid Coach Howard when we were on a pretty good roll. I would tell him they are going to take your name off that field. He would just grumble.”