Saturday, June 27, 2015

Brief History of Clemson Football Team and Bowl Games

Clemson University was founded in 1889. It is a public, co-ed institution of higher education located in Clemson, South Carolina. As of 2014, Clemson University enrollment consisted of 17,260 undergraduate students and 4,597 graduate students. It is named after Thomas Green Clemson.

The Clemson University football team is known as the "Clemson University Fighting Tigers". The Tigers compete in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Tigers play their home games in Memorial Stadium on the main campus in Clemson, S.C. The stadium is also known as "Death Valley" and is the 19th largest stadium in college football.

With 20 total conference titles, Clemson is one of the founding members of the ACC. Among its five undefeated seasons, Clemson won their first and only poll-era national football championship in 1981 with a 22-15 win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers have 37 total bowl appearances with a win-loss record of 19-18. The Tigers have finished in the Final Top 25 rankings 25 times in the program's history.

Early History: 1896–1930

Walter Merritt Riggs is known as the "Father of Clemson Football". He brought the game with him from Agricultural & Mechanical College of Alabama, now known as Auburn University. The fact that Auburn and Clemson share the same mascot is no accident. Riggs helped organize and coach the infant Tiger team in 1896 and took the team to a 2–1 record in the inaugural year. He then stepped aside and William M. Williams coached the Tigers in 1897, guiding them to a 2–2 record. In 1898, John Penton led the Tigers to a 3–1 record. In 1899, Riggs again took over the reins and the team went 4–2.

After a decade as a professor, Riggs was named acting president of Clemson Agricultural College in 1910, being confirmed by the Board of Trustees as permanent president on March 7, 1911. He served until his untimely death on January 22, 1924 while on a trip to Washington, D.C.

John Heisman coached the Tigers to their first undefeated season (6–0) in 1900. Heisman stayed only four years at Clemson, where he compiled a record of 19–3–2, an .833 percentage, the best in Clemson football history. After Heisman left Clemson to become the head coach at Georgia Tech.

The following coaches led the Tigers football team from 1904 through 1930:

  • Shack Shealy (1904): 3–3–1 record; the only Clemson graduate (1899) to serve as head coach of his alma mater
  • Edward B. Cochems (1905): 3–2–1 record
  • Bob Williams (1906, 1909, 1913–1915): 21–14–6 record; the only coach to serve as Clemson's head coach three times; he also coached at the University of South Carolina
  • Frank Shaughnessy (1907): 4–4 record
  • John Stone (1908): 1–6 record
  • Frank Dobson (1910–1912): 11–12–1 record; he also coached at South Carolina
  • Wayne Hart (1916): 3–6 record
  • Edward Donahue (1917–1920): 21–12–3 record
  • E.J. Stewart (1921–1922): 6–10–2 record
  • Bud Saunders (1923–1926): 10–22–1 record
  • Josh Cody (1927–1930): 29–11–1 record; Tigers were undefeated at home (13-0-1) and against South Carolina (3–0) during Cody's tenure

Clemson Football: 1930 - Present

Jess Neely era (1931–1939)

In 1931, Jess Neely became Clemson's head football coach. During his tenure, Neely led the Tigers to a 43-35-7 record. His final season at Clemson was the turning point in the Tigers' program. His team went 9-1 during that season. The Tigers also received their first bowl invitation and bowl victory that year, defeating nationally ranked Boston College 6-3 in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic. The 1939 Tigers finished with a #12 ranking in the final AP poll. Jess Neely, along with then athletic director Rupert Fike founded the IPTAY Scholarship Fund that supports the Clemson Athletic Department.

Frank Howard era (1940–1969)

Frank Howard, an assistant coach under Neely, was named head coach in 1940. In his 30 years at Clemson, Howard compiled a 165–118–12 record, a 3–3 bowl record, won two Southern Conference championships, and six ACC championships. Clemson had two undefeated season under Howard, one in 1948 (11-0), and one in 1950 (9-0-1).

The tradition of rubbing "Howard's Rock" prior to running down the hill before home games began during Coach Howard's tenure. The playing field at Memorial Stadium was named "Frank Howard Field" in 1974 following his retirement to honor his many years of service for the university. He was subsequently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Hootie Ingram era (1970–1972)

Hootie Ingram was Frank Howard's successor. Unfortunately, he only compiled a 12–21 record. The traditional "tiger paw" logo designed by John Antonio of Henderson Advertising was introduced in 1970 by Ingram and Clemson President R.C. Edwards.

Red Parker era (1973–1976)

Jimmy "Red" Parker coached the Tigers from 1973–1976, compiling a 17-25-2 record. The Tigers went 2-9 in 1975, and 3-6-2 in 1976. He was cut loose by the Board of Trustees at the end of the Bicentennial season.

Charlie Pell era (1977–1978)

Charlie Pell coached the Tigers for two seasons, winning the ACC Coach of the Year award twice and leading the Tigers to the 1978 ACC Championship en route to an 18-4-1 record. In both seasons, Clemson earned berths to the Gator Bowl.

Danny Ford era (1978–1989)

Danny Ford was promoted from offensive line coach to head coach in 1978, after Charlie Pell left for the University of Florida. He won his first game, the 1978 Gator Bowl, with a 17–15 victory over Ohio State.

In his fourth season, Ford guided Clemson to the summit of college football by winning the National Football Championship, recording the program's fifth undefeated season with a record of 12-0. They concluded the season with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. Ford was named National Coach-of-the-Year in 1981 and holds the record as the youngest coach (33 years old) to win a national championship.

On November 21, 1982, the football program was placed on probation for a 2-year period related to numerous recruiting violations. Clemson was also barred from participating in bowl games following the 1982 and 1983 seasons.

After the probation period, Clemson won three straight ACC titles between 1986 and 1988, including a 35-10 victory over Penn State and a 13-6 defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners in the Florida Citrus Bowl. In 1989, Clemson registered a 10-2 season. Danny Ford ended his career at Clemson with a 27–7 win over West Virginia in the 1989 Gator Bowl.

Ford compiled a 96-29-4 (.760) record at Clemson and remains the second most winningest coach in Clemson history. He coached the Tigers to five ACC championships.

Ken Hatfield era (1990–1993)

Ken Hatfield took over as head coach at Clemson in late 1989. He had a 32–13–1 record with the Tigers and led them to three bowl games. Hatfield worked to clean up the program's image in the wake of the Ford-era sanctions. However, he was never very popular with the fans. Hatfield resigned at the end of the regular 1993 season.

Tommy West era (1993–1998)

Tommy West replaced Ken Hatfield at the end of the 1993 season, coaching the Tigers to a 14-13 victory in the 1993 Peach Bowl against Kentucky. West had a 31–28 record during his five seasons at Clemson and led the Tigers to three bowl games but never won an ACC championships. West left after a dismal 1998 campaign which saw Clemson go 3-8 and finish last in the ACC.

Tommy Bowden era (1999–2008)

Following the 1998 season, Clemson hired Tommy Bowden. Bowden led the Tigers to a 6–6 record and a Peach Bowl bid in 1999. During Bowden's tenure, the Tigers were bowl eligible every season but didn't win any ACC championships. After numerous winning seasons, Tommy Bowden agreed to resign in 2008 during mid-season, after leading the team to a disappointing 3–3 record. Assistant coach Dabo Swinney was named interim head coach and completed the rest of the season.

Dabo Swinney era (2008–Present)

Following the departure of Tommy Bowden, coach Dabo Swinney was dubbed interim head coach and led the Tigers to 7-6 record in 2008. The following are other highlights of the Dabo Swinney era to date:

  • On November 21, 2009, Swinney and the Tigers qualified for their first ACC title game berth, only to lose to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 39–34. They were awarded a trip to the 2009 Music City Bowl, and defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 21–13.
  • On December 31, 2010 Clemson was defeated by the South Florida Bulls, 31–26, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
  • On November 12, 2011, Clemson defeated Wake Forest, winning the ACC Atlantic Division title. On December 3, the Tigers won their first ACC Championship since 1991, defeating Virginia Tech 38-10 in the Championship Game. However, Clemson would go on to suffer a massive loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2012 Orange Bowl 70-33.
  • On Dec. 31, 2012, Clemson achieved its first 11-win season since the national championship year with a last-second upset win over the #8 LSU Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
  • The 2013 season was historic for the Clemson football program. The Tigers began the season with a 38-35 home victory over rival and fifth-ranked Georgia and finished 11-2 in 2013 and secured the school's first ever BCS bowl win with a 40-35 victory over #7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
  • Clemson finished 10-3 in 2014, highlighted by a 35-17 win over arch-rival University of South Carolina and a 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
  • ended with 14–1 overall record. \
  • In 2015, behind the leadership of QB Deshaun Watson, the Tigers won the 2015 ACC Championship against North Carolina by a score of 45–37. The Tigers were selected to participate in the 2016 College Football Playoff as the top-seeded team in the tournament. Clemson defeated the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the 2015 Orange Bowl by a score of 37–17 to advance to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game against the #2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on January 11, 2016. Clemson lost the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game to Alabama, 45–40 ending the school's 17-game winning streak.
  • In 2016, Clemson once again set the standard for the rest of the ACC and finished the regular season at 12–1, culminated by a 56–7 win at home over their arch-rival South Carolina Gamecocks. Clemson won the ACC championship and secured its second trip to the CFP National Championship with a 31–0 shutout of semi-finalist #3 Ohio State in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. The Tigers competed in the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship game in Tampa, Florida on January 9, 2017, where they beat the previously undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide 35–31 on a game-winning touchdown with one second remaining, to win the 2016 College Football National Championship.
* For more detail on Clemson University and its football program, see Wikipedia

List of Bowl Games

1939 W 6–3 January 1, 1940 Boston College Eagles
1948 W 24–23 January 1, 1949 Missouri Tigers
1950 W 15–14 January 1, 1951 Miami Hurricanes
1951 L 14–0 January 1, 1952 Miami Hurricanes
1956 L 27–21 January 1, 1957 Colorado Buffaloes
1958 L 7–0 January 1, 1959 LSU Tigers
1959 W 7–0 December 19, 1959 TCU Horned Frogs
1977 L 34–3 December 30, 1977 Pittsburgh Panthers
1978 W 17–15 December 29, 1978 Ohio State Buckeyes
1979 L 24–18 December 31, 1979 Baylor Bears
1981 W 22–15 January 1, 1982 Nebraska Cornhuskers
1985 L 20–13 December 21, 1985 Minnesota Golden Gophers
1986 W 27–21 December 27, 1986 Stanford Cardinal
1987 W 35–10 January 1, 1988 Penn State Nittany Lions
1988 W 13–6 January 1, 1989 Oklahoma Sooners
1989 W 27–7 December 30, 1989 West Virginia Mountaineers
1990 W 30–0 January 1, 1991 Illinois Fighting Illini
1991 L 37–14 January 1, 1992 California Golden Bears
1993 W 14–13 December 31, 1993 Kentucky Wildcats
1995 L 41–0 January 1, 1996 Syracuse Orangemen
1996 L 10–7 December 28, 1996 LSU Tigers
1997 L 21–17 January 2, 1998 Auburn Tigers
1999 L 17–7 December 30, 1999 Mississippi State Bulldogs
2000 L 41–20 January 1, 2001 Virginia Tech Hokies
2001 W 49–24 December 31, 2001 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
2002 L 55–15 December 23, 2002 Texas Tech Red Raiders
2003 W 27–14 January 2, 2004 Tennessee Volunteers
2005 W 19–10 December 27, 2005 Colorado Buffaloes
2006 L 28–20 December 29, 2006 Kentucky Wildcats
2007 L 23–20 (OT) December 31, 2007 Auburn Tigers
2008 L 26–21 January 1, 2009 Nebraska Cornhuskers
2009 W 21–13 December 27, 2009 Kentucky Wildcats
2010 L 31–26 December 31, 2010 South Florida Bulls
2011 L 70–33 January 4, 2012 West Virginia Mountaineers
2012 W 25–24 December 31, 2012 LSU Tigers
2013 W 40–35 January 3, 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes
2014 W 40–6 December 29, 2014 Oklahoma Sooners
38 2015     2015 Orange Bowl                W 37-17         Beat the Oklahoma Sooners
39 2015     2015 National Championship    L 45-40    Lost to Alabama Crimson Tide
40 2016     2016 Fiesta Bowl                  W 31-0            Beat Ohio State Buckeyes      
41 2016     2016 National Championship    W 35-31   Beat Alabama Crimson Tide

What will the Clemson University 2017 season look like for the 'Fighting Tigers'What do you think?

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