Clemson football started with Furman

Clemson football started with Furman


Clemson football started with Furman


Here are some important moments in the Tigers-Paladins series

On September 30, 1896, a small crowd gathered in one of the barrack’s rooms at Clemson College and discussed the advisability of organizing a football association and to devise some means of getting a coach. The organization, known as the Clemson College Football Association, was started. A committee of three was appointed to consult Professor Walter Riggs as to management of a football team and to ask his aid as coach.

It did not take too long for Clemson to start playing football. A month later, on October 31, 1896, Clemson played its first football game, defeating Furman 14-6 in Greenville, S.C.

Not only was Clemson’s football program officially started that afternoon in Greenville, but so to was its rivalry with Furman. The two long-standing rivals will renew their rivalry this season when the Paladins visit Death Valley on Sept. 1.

This year’s meeting will be the 57th time Clemson and Furman have met on the field. However, it is hard to say the series is much a rivalry. In fact, it stopped being one in 1938.

The Tigers have won 30 straight against Furman on the football field. Prior to Clemson’s current win streak, the Furman series was a hard-fought one as Clemson had just a 12-10-4 edge through the first 26 meetings.

Following Clemson’s win over the Paladins in 1938, the Tigers consistently started playing on a bigger stage and became a national program.

In 1939, Clemson accepted its first bowl bid to play in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic. The Tigers beat Boston College, 6-3, that day in Dallas to finish the season 9-1 and No. 12 in the final Associated Press rankings.

Eventually Furman, and other smaller schools, formed Division I-AA or what is now known as FCS. That occurred in 1979 and that year the Tigers beat the Paladins 21-0 to start the season.

Since that game in 1979, Clemson has outscored the Paladins 260-46 in nine meetings. That is an average score of 29-5. The Tigers have three shutouts in that period of time and four other times held Furman to 7 points or less.

Since the end of World War II, Clemson has defeated the Paladins by an average margin of 27.0 points in the 25 times they have played. In five of those games they have shut out the Paladins and in 19 meetings the Tigers held them to 7 points or less.

The closest contest since 1946, the post-World War Era, came in 1949 when the Paladins nearly knocked off Clemson in Greenville. However, the Tigers found a way to win, 28-21.

On September 3, 1994, for the first time, Clemson faced a team coached by a Clemson graduate. Bobby Johnson, an academic All-ACC defensive back for the Tigers and a 1973 graduate, brought his Furman Paladins to Memorial Stadium.

Clemson came away with a 27-6 win. Also that day, Clemson inducted Frank Howard, Steve Fuller, and Banks McFadden into the Ring of Honor prior to the game.

On September 7, 1996, Clemson’s Centennial team was honored at halftime of the Clemson vs. Furman game. The Tigers wore their throwback uniforms, in honor of the 1939 team. Clemson won the game 19-3. The Tigers had a school record 12 sacks in the win.

September 6, 2003, was the final game called by Jim Phillips, “The Voice of the Tigers.” Phillips called Clemson football, basketball and baseball games for 36 years. But three days after he called Clemson’s 28-17 win over the Paladins, he died suddenly in the early morning hours after suffering an aneurysm of the aorta.

Phillips had served as Clemson’s play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball since 1968, and he had also done baseball and women’s basketball for many years. He worked 401 Clemson football games in his career, as the season opener in 2003 against Georgia was his 400th.

–Photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications 

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