In his 10 seasons now as a head coach, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has had the opportunity to hold up the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy, the million dollar Fiesta Bowl Trophy, two Orange Bowl Trophies and three ACC Championships trophies.
And as special as all of those trophies are, there is one that is more special to him than any of them … the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy.
The O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy is given each year to the Clemson-Boston College winner. The Boston College Gridiron Club began sponsoring the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy in 2008. Clemson has won eight of the nine years the trophy has been awarded, including the last six in the series.
“That is a special trophy to me. It really is,” Swinney said Tuesday during his weekly press conference with the media. “There are a lot of trophies around here, but that is one that really means a lot to me.”
That’s because Boston College was Swinney’s first win as head coach. Thanks to C.J. Spiller’s 242 all-purpose yards, including a 64-yard kickoff return to set up the winning touchdown in a 27-21 victory at Boston College.
The O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy features a leather helmet replica 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 in Dallas, Texas. In addition to the trophy presentation, the Boston College Gridiron Club will present a replica leather helmet to the MVP of the winning school in the locker room.
Spiller won the award for the 2008 game.
“That was my first win at BC and I still remember Spiller putting that helmet on,” Swinney said. “You would have thought we won the Super Bowl. It was an awesome moment. I have always been very fond of that trophy and we like to keep it up, but we know we have a lot of work to do.”
Clemson kicker Richard Jackson won the award for the 2009 game. He kicked six field goals in the Clemson victory, the only kicker at the FBS level to kick six field goals in a game in 2009.
Montell Harris won the award for Boston College in 2010 thanks to his 143 yards rushing and scoring the game’s only offensive touchdown. Chandler Catanzaro became the second Clemson kicker to win the honor with his five field goals in the 36-14 Clemson win in 2011.
Tajh Boyd won it in 2012 with a 367-yard passing game and Vic Beasley took the honor in 2013 when he had a fumble return for a touchdown. Cole Stoudt had 308 yards of total offense as Clemson rallied to win the 2014 game, 17-13.
Deshaun Watson won the award in 2015 and Wayne Gallman took home the leather helmet last year.
“The main goal is to keep that trophy here,” Swinney said. “That is a neat thing. It is always fun to see who wins that. I have slipped it on a time or two. I got to wear it a couple of times.”
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.
O’Rourke had his jersey retired at Boston College and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
McFadden led the Tigers to a 9-1 record in 1939 as the starting quarterback. Regarded as the greatest all-around Clemson athlete of the 20th Century, 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 was Clemson’s first bowl appearance.
In the spring of 1939 he led Clemson to the Southern Conference Basketball championship. McFadden was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959, Clemson’s first inductee.