The moments that define Clemson Football

The moments that define Clemson Football


The moments that define Clemson Football


Have you ever wondered about those moments that defined Clemson football and shaped it into the program you know and love today?

Here are some of the moments that have helped define Clemson football into one of the nation’s best and historic programs.

September 30, 1896 – A small crowd gathered in one of the barrack’s rooms 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 perfected and the following officers were elected: President Frank Tompkins, Secretary & Treasurer Charlie Gentry, Manager T.R. Vogel and Temporary Captain R.G. Hamilton.  A committee of three was appointed to consult Prof. Riggs as to management of a football team and to ask his aid as coach.

November 29, 1900 – Clemson’s 35-0 win over Alabama allowed John Heisman’s team to finish the year undefeated (6-0).  It was Clemson’s first undefeated and untied team. The 1900 team was the only team to win all of its games in a season until the 1948 squad went 11-0. Clemson won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship, its first conference title.

October 16, 1931 – Clemson suffered a surprising 6-0 loss against The Citadel in a game played in Florence, SC. After the game, Neely, Captain Frank Jervey, and others met in a car outside the stadium to discuss ways Clemson could help its football program get back on track. The meeting got the ball rolling towards the establishment of the IPTAY – I Pay Ten A Year — Club.  Clemson scored just three touchdowns and won one game during the 1931 season.

August 20, 1934 – IPTAY, the nation’s first scholarship fundraising organization, was founded. The organization was first established as a secret organization and initial membership dues were set at $10 a year. The excitement about the organization carried over into the 1934 season and the Tigers ran to their first winning season since 1930, which included wins over Furman and South Carolina.

December 8, 1939 – Clemson accepted a bid to play in the Cotton Bowl. It was Clemson’s first postseason bowl game appearance. Clemson did meet Cumberland in a postseason “Championship of the South” game in 1903, but it was not considered an established bowl.

January 1, 1940 – In Clemson’s first bowl appearance, the 12th-ranked Tigers defeated No. 11 Boston College, 6-3. Charlie Timmons scored the game’s lone touchdown from two yards out and rushed for 115 yards. Banks McFadden keyed the defense with four pass deflections and also averaged 43 yards per punt. Boston College drove to the Clemson eight with three minutes left, but Shad Bryant and McFadden knocked away third and fourth-down passes to save the day for the Tigers.

January 11, 1940 – Frank Howard was named head coach. At the Athletic Council meeting, Howard was nominated for the position by Professor Sam Rhodes, a council member.  When a call for a second was asked, Howard, standing in the back of the room, said: “I second the nomination.”  It is perhaps the only recorded time in history a coach has seconded his own nomination for head coach.

September 19, 1942 – Memorial Stadium opened, and the Tigers ran down the hill for the first time.  Butch Butler gained 192 yards, as the Tigers opened the new stadium in front of 5,500 with a 32-13 win over Presbyterian College.  It was the most yards rushing by a Tiger in the decade of the 1940s.  High school students were admitted for 25 cents, while servicemen were allowed in for 50 cents.

January 1, 1949 – The Tigers won the Gator Bowl by a 24-23 score over Missouri. Clemson closed the season with a perfect 11-0 record, the only team in college football with 11 wins that year and one of just three with a perfect record. Notre Dame and Michigan were both 9-0-0 that season, but did not play in a bowl game.

November 27, 1951 – Clemson accepted a bid to play in the Gator Bowl. This was done against the wishes of the Southern Conference, who had made a rule its members could not go to a bowl game.  Clemson and Maryland, which both accepted bowl bids were given sanctions.  The two teams were told they will not be allowed to play any other conference teams in 1952. This resulted in teams leaving the Southern Conference and forming the ACC.

May 8, 1953 – Clemson joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.

November 24, 1956 – Clemson defeated Virginia 7-0 at Clemson to clinch the Tigers first ever ACC Championship.

Frank Howard kisses Big Thursday goodbye in 1959 after Clemson’s 27-0 victory over South Carolina in the final Big Thursday Game played in the series. (photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications)

October 22, 1959 – Clemson won the last Big Thursday game by defeating South Carolina 27-0. Harvey White was on target all day, hitting 9-10 passes for 162 yards and two scores. Clemson fans tore down the steel goal posts, which were set in concrete, following the game.

September 24, 1966 – First game in which Howard’s Rock was present at Death Valley. Clemson downed Virginia, 40-35 in one of the most exciting games in the history of the facility and adding to the legend of Howard’s Rock. Clemson trailed 35-17 with just over a quarter remaining in the game, but rode the passing of Jimmy Addison to keep its perfect record alive against Virginia. Addison was 12-19 for 283 yards and three touchdowns, including a 74-yarder to Jackie Jackson with 3:49 remaining that proved to be the game-winner.

December 10, 1969 – Frank Howard resigned from football coaching duties, but remained in the capacity of athletic director.  Howard had first come to Clemson in 1931 as an assistant under Jess Neely.

July 21, 1970 – Clemson announced the use of a new logo…the Tiger Paw.  With the aid of Henderson Advertising Agency, the Tiger paw became the new trademark of Clemson athletics.

November 19, 1977 – “The Catch” as it is known in Clemson lore, was a 20-yard pass from Steve Fuller to Jerry Butler with just 49 seconds left enabled Clemson to beat South Carolina 31-27. The Tigers had led 24-0, then South Carolina came back to take a 27-24 lead prior to the final Clemson drive.  The win earned the Tigers a trip to the Gator Bowl.

December 5, 1978 – Danny Ford, offensive line coach for the Tigers, was named as Charlie Pell’s replacement. He became the head coach at age 30, the youngest Division I head coach in the nation.

December 10, 1978 – It was announced that Danny Ford would be the Tigers’ coach in the Gator Bowl.

December 29, 1978 – Clemson defeated Ohio State 17-15 at the Gator Bowl in Danny Ford’s first game as head coach, and Woody Hayes’ final game at Ohio State.  The winning touchdown was scored by freshman Cliff Austin.  He would score another important touchdown three years later against Nebraska.  Charlie Bauman made the key play with an interception of an Art Schlichter pass with just two minutes left.  He ran the return out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline and was punched by Hayes.

November 22, 1980 – Clemson wore its famous Orange Pants for the first time when it defeated No. 14 South Carolina 27-6 in a contest that gave the Tigers momentum heading into 1981. Willie Underwood played the game of his life with two interceptions for 101 yards, including one for a 37-yard touchdown. Underwood entered the game, the 47th of his career, without an interception. He was named Sports Illustrated National Defensive Player-of-the-Week. Clemson kept South Carolina Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers out of the end zone.

January 1, 1982 – Clemson claimed it first National Championship with a 22-15 win over Nebraska in the 48th annual Orange Bowl Classic.  One of the Clemson touchdowns was scored by Cliff Austin, who had been trapped in an elevator for two hours at the Clemson hotel earlier in the day.

Danny Ford posted a 96-29-4 record in his 11 years as Clemson’s head coach and won 5 ACC titles and the 1981 National Championship.

December 30, 1989 – The Tigers defeated West Virginia 27-7 in the Gator Bowl.  It was Clemson’s fourth straight bowl victory and the fourth straight year Clemson concluded the season ranked in the national top 20.  The Tigers held West Virginia to just 119 yards passing and forced Heisman Trophy runner up Major Harris into three fumbles.  Chester McGlockton sacked Harris in the end zone and recovered the ball for a touchdown for Clemson’s final score.

January 18, 1990 – Danny Ford resigned as head coach after 11 full seasons.  He finished his career tied for first in ACC history in career victories with 96 and he was second in winning percentage.  He had a 96-29-4 overall record and 76 percent winning mark.  He was the third winningest active coach in the nation at the time of his resignation.

October 10, 1992 – Clemson overcame a 28-0 deficit to defeat Virginia in Charlottesville 29-28.  Nelson Welch kicked a 32-yard field goal with 52 seconds left to cap the comeback. Quarterback Louis Solomon came off the bench with the score 28-0 and led the comeback. His 64-yard scoring run just before the half changed the course of the game.  The win over the No. 10 Cavaliers was just the third in Clemson history over a top-10 team on the road.

November 8, 2003 – Clemson shocked the college football world with a 26-10 victory over No. 3 Florida State in Death Valley. It was the highest-ranked team Clemson had beaten in its history. It was Clemson’s first win over Florida State in 14 years. Clemson held Florida State to just 11 yards rushing, the fewest in the Bobby Bowden coaching era at Florida State.

October 13, 2008 – Head Coach Tommy Bowden resigned on this Monday morning after a meeting with Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips.  That afternoon, Dabo Swinney was named interim head coach.

October 18, 2008 – Dabo Swinney coached his first game as head coach against Georgia Tech, just five days after he took over the program.  He instituted the “Tiger Walk” prior to the game.  Georgia Tech won the contest 21-17.

December 3, 2011 – Clemson won its first ACC Championship in 20 years thanks to a 38-10 victory over No. 5 Virginia Tech in Charlotte, NC. The Hokies were ranked No. 3 in the Coaches Poll. Quarterback Tajh Boyd completed 20 of 29 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns on the way to being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

December 31, 2012 – Chandler Catanzaro made a 37-yard field goal as time expired to lift Clemson to a 25-24 come-from-behind victory over seventh-ranked LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Clemson rallied from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit, highlighted by Tajh Boyd’s 26-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins on fourth-and-16 from his own 14-yard line on the game-winning drive. Hopkins finished the game with 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. His 13 catches equaled his own school record set in the same building against Auburn four months earlier. His first touchdown set Clemson and ACC records for touchdowns in a season with 18 and consecutive games with a touchdown with 10.

December 31, 2015 – Clemson beat Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl to improve to 14-0 in 2015, while advancing to the national championship game for the first time in 34 years. The 14 wins also marked the most wins in one season by a Clemson team.

Jan. 11, 2016 – Clemson played for the national championship against Alabama. The Crimson Tide won 45-40, but quarterback Deshaun set a championship game record with 478 yards of total offense.

December 31, 2016 – In one of the most dominating performances in Clemson history, the Tigers defeated No. 2 Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson advanced to the national championship game for a second straight thanks to the win over the Buckeyes.

January 9, 2017 – Clemson wins it second national championship thanks to Deshaun Watson’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left in the game to beat No. 1 Alabama. It marked the Tigers first national championship in 35 years. It was also Clemson’s first win over a No. 1 ranked team.

Hunter Renfrow hauls in the game-winning catch to beat Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders.  TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship.  Order your copy today!



Clemson head coach Monte Lee said it was a “great game today on pretty much all ends” after the Tigers defeated the College of Charleston, 13-1, Tuesday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson. Watch (…)

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