And what happened that season and who was the head coach?
News of the Big Ten going to a conference-only schedule on Thursday shook up college football. Then, later in the day, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith indicated the conference is talking about going to a 10-game model.
As The Clemson Insider reported Thursday night, the ACC is looking into a similar structure. This bit of information got me to thinking, “When was the last time Clemson played a ten-game regular season?”
You have to go all the way back to 1969.
How long ago was 1969? Well, Frank Howard was still the head coach at Clemson. In fact, it was Howard’s last year as head football coach. He announced his retirement at the end of the season, following a 4-6 campaign.
The Tigers played six ACC games that season and went 3-3 in league play, good enough for a tie for third place with Duke. South Carolina won the league that year, still its only football conference championship in school history.
In its out of conference games in 1969, Clemson hosted Georgia and Alabama at Death Valley, both losses, while it visited Georgia Tech and Auburn. The Tigers won 21-10 at Georgia Tech, snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets. It was just Howard’s second win all-time against Georgia Tech, with the other one coming in 1945.
Charlie Waters, who went on to play 11 seasons for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, joined Ivan Southerland (defensive end) and Ray Yauger (tailback) as All-ACC selections in 1969. Waters led the Tigers with 44 receptions for 738 yards as a receiver. He had two touchdowns.
Waters went on to win two Super Bowls with the Cowboys and played in five overall as a cornerback and eventually as a safety.
Yauger ran for 968 yards and scored six touchdowns in 1969. He also caught 21 passes for 130 yards and scored five more touchdowns.
John McMakin was a sophomore tight end on the Tigers’ 1969 team. He was second on the team with 24 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns. McMakin of course went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a part of the Steelers’ first Super Bowl Championship in 1974.
Starting in 1954, the second year of the ACC, Clemson has played at least 10 games every season.
Howard finished his Clemson career as the fifth winningest coach in college football at the time. He had 165 career victories as the Tigers’ head coach, quite an accomplishment considering just 38 percent of his 295 career games were played at home.
Howard produced a 165-118-2 record in his 30 years as head coach at Clemson, including eight conference titles, six of which came in the ACC. Howard’s teams appeared in six bowl games, including two Orange Bowls and a Sugar Bowl appearance. Earning a bowl bid in Howard’s time was not as easy as it is today considering there were so few bowl games.
Howard finished his career with 96 ACC victories, the most in the conference’s history until Bobby Bowden passed him in 1998. He is currently third all-time in ACC victories. His 165 all-time victories are still the best in Clemson history.
–Above photo: Clemson’s Frank Howard shakes hands with Alabama head coach Bear Bryant following Alabama’s 38-13 win over Clemson in 1969 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson. (File photo/Clemson Athletic Communications)
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