Clemson Tigers football

Clemson Tigers football
Clemson Tigers football
Current season
Clemson University Tiger Paw logo.svg
First season 1896
Athletic director Terry Don Phillips
Head coach Dabo Swinney
4th year, 28–16  (.636)
Home stadium Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Stadium capacity 80,301[1]
Stadium surface Natural Grass
Location Clemson, South Carolina
Conference ACC (1953-present)
Division ACC Atlantic Division (2005-present)
All-time record 648–444–45 (.590)
Postseason bowl record 16–17
Claimed national titles 1 (1981)
Conference titles 17 (13 ACC)
Division titles 2 (2009, 2011)
Consensus All-Americans 20[2]
Current uniform
Colors Clemson Orange and Regalia[3]            
Fight song Tiger Rag
Mascot The Tiger
Marching band Tiger Band
Rivals South Carolina Gamecocks
Florida State Seminoles
Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
NC State Wolfpack
Boston College Eagles

The Clemson Tigers football team is an American football team from Clemson University in South Carolina. It competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The team is also known as the "Clemson University Fighting Tigers", which name appears on the banner that cheerleaders use at football games.



Early years: 1896–1899

Walter Merritt Riggs can be characterized as the "Father of Clemson Football," as he brought the game with him from Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University). The fact that Auburn and Clemson share the same mascot is no accident. Riggs allowed his players to pick the team mascot and, although he may have influenced their decision, the players chose Tigers because Princeton University had just won the national championship. Riggs helped organize and coach the infant Tiger team in 1896. Indeed, when the Tigers traveled to Greenville on Halloween to play Furman in their very first match, only Coach Riggs and backfield player Frank Thompkins had ever seen a football game played. Today in Clemson, the soccer field is named Historic Riggs field after Walter Riggs.

Riggs took the team to a 2–1 record in the inaugural year. He then stepped aside at the urging of the cadets, who felt that he should concentrate on his scholastic duties rather than coach the team for free. 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, when the Clemson Athletic Association could not afford a coaching salary, Riggs again took over the reins, one of only two Clemson football coaches to return to the position after stepping down. The 1899 squad went 4–2. Riggs' overall record of 6–3 gives him a .667 winning percentage. Historic Riggs Field is named for him.

After a decade as a Mechanical Engineering professor, he 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. to meet with officials of other land grant institutions.

John Heisman era: 1900–1903

John W. Heisman on Bowman Field, Clemson's first gridiron.

John Heisman coached the Tigers to their first undefeated season (6–0) in 1900.[4] 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.[5] Following a 73–0 defeat of Georgia Tech in 1903, the Yellow Jackets hired Heisman as their first full-time football coach.

Post-Heisman era: 1904–1930

After Heisman left Clemson to become the head coach at Georgia Tech, the following coaches lead the Tigers football team:

  • 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; only coach to serve as Clemson's head coach three times; also coached at South Carolina
  • Frank Shaughnessy (1907): 4–4 record
  • John Stone (1908): 1–6 record
  • Frank Dobson (1910–1912): 11–12–1 record; 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

Jess Neely era: 1931–1939

In 1931, Jess Neely (a former head coach at Rhodes and assistant at Alabama) 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, finishing second to Duke in the Southern Conference. 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. Clemson also had their first Associated Press All-American that year in Banks McFadden. Jess Neely, along with then athletic director Dr. Rupert Fike, founded the IPTAY Scholarship Fund, which supports the Clemson Athletic Department.

Frank Howard era: 1940–1969

After Jess Neely left to become the head coach at Rice, Frank Howard (an assistant coach under Neely) was named head coach. 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. Seven of Howard's teams finished the year ranked in at least one final poll. He also incorporated the Single Wing, T-formation, and I-formation offenses at different points during his coaching career at Clemson. 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[6] . 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 inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Clemson Hall of Fame, the Clemson Ring of Honor, the Helms Athletic Hall of Fame, the State of Alabama Hall of Fame, National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor, and the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame.

Post-Howard era: 1970–1976

Clemson struggled during the years following Frank Howard's retirement. His successor, Hootie Ingram, only compiled a 12–21 record. During his tenure, the tradition of running down the hill was stopped from 1970 to the end of the 1972 season, when the team decided it wanted to come down the hill for the final home game against South Carolina. The traditional "tiger paw" logo was introduced by Ingram. Jimmy "Red" Parker coached the Tigers from 1973–1976, compiling a 17-25-2 record.[7]

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 a 18-4-1 record. In both seasons, Clemson earned berths to the Gator Bowl. However, Pell became involved in NCAA rules and recruiting violations that came to light under the tenure of his successor, Danny Ford. Charlie Pell would leave after 1978 to become head coach at Florida, where his coaching career would end in 1984 following more NCAA rules violations.

Danny Ford era: 1978–1989

The Danny Ford Era began 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 and legendary coach Woody Hayes, who punched LB Charlie Bauman in the throat after making the game-clinching interception. In his first two seasons, Ford guided the Tigers to 8–4 and 6–5 records and a Peach Bowl bid in 1979. In 1981, Ford led the Tigers to a 12–0 record, and Clemson's only National Championship in 1981, a 22-15 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and the school's first national championship in any sport. During his tenure at Clemson, Ford compiled a 96-29-4 (.760) record, a 6-2 bowl record, won five ACC championships, and finished the year ranked in at least one poll seven times. Ford also coached 21 All-Americans and 41 players who went on to play in the NFL during his 11 seasons at Clemson.

On November 21, 1982, the football program was placed on probation for a 2-year period to include the 1983 and 1984 seasons. This sanction was enforced on the program by the NCAA Committee on Infractions due to a lengthy history of recruiting violations meant to gain an athletic advantage. These recruiting violations took place from 1977 through the Tigers' 1981 National Championship season and into 1982, under the administration of two head coaches, Charlie Pell and Danny Ford. The Atlantic Coast Conference imposed a third year of conference penalty.

Over 150 documented violations were found to have been committed under NCAA bylaws in the categories of improper recruiting inducements, extra benefits to student-athletes, unethical conduct, improper financial aid, improper campus visits, improper transportation and entertainment, improper use of funds, improper employment, improper recruiting contact, and distribution of cash to players by members of the coaching staff.[8]

As a result of these violations, Clemson was barred from participating in bowl games following the 1982 and 1983 seasons, and barred from appearing on live television in the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Also, the number of scholarships that the university could allocate to football players was restricted to 20 (from the normal limit of 30) for the 1983-84 and 1984-85 academic years. The Tigers, however, were allowed to keep their 1978 and 1981 ACC titles as well as the 1981 national title.

Charles Alan Wright, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions said at the time, "Due to the large number and serious nature of the violations in this case, the committee believed that institutional sanctions related to appearances on television and in postseason football bowl games were appropriate. In addition, because the violations indicated a pattern of improper recruiting activities, the committee determined that a two-year limitation on financial aid to new recruits should be imposed to offset any recruiting advantage that was gained improperly by the university."[9][10]

Just five years after their probation ended, Clemson once again found their football program accused of multiple recruiting violations in January 1990.[11] The NCAA accused Clemson of giving cash to players and having illegal contact with recruits over a period from 1984 to 1988. In June 1990, the Tigers found themselves on probation once again, for the second time in less than a decade.[12] This chain of events contributed, in part, to the forced resignation of popular head coach Danny Ford.[13]

After a few years away from coaching, Ford was hired by Arkansas in 1992, where he would spend five seasons guiding the Razorbacks.

Ken Hatfield Era: 1990–1993

Ken Hatfield, former coach at Air Force and Arkansas, coached the Tigers to their most recent ACC championship in 1991. 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.[14] However, Hatfield was never really accepted by Clemson's fans. A common saying among Tiger fans during this time was "Howard built it. Ford tilled it. Hatfield killed it."

Largely due to this discontent, school officials refused to grant him a one-year extension on his contract after the 1993 season, even though the Tigers had rebounded from 5–6 in 1992 to a solid 8–3 record that year and were invited to the Peach Bowl. Angered at what he saw as a lack of support, Hatfield resigned at the end of the regular season.[15] He was later hired at Rice.

The purple home jerseys used by Clemson in special games made their debut during the 1991 ACC championship season, which was their most recent ACC Championship to date.

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 no ACC championships. West was fired after a dismal 1998 campaign which saw Clemson go 3-8 and finish last in the ACC. West went on to be the head coach at Memphis.

Tommy Bowden era: 1999–2008

After Tommy West's dismissal following the 1998 season, Clemson hired Tommy Bowden, son of Bobby Bowden and coach at Tulane University. Bowden led the Tigers to a 6–6 record and a Peach Bowl bid in 1999, with the team that navigated its way through a schedule that included MAC champions and undefeated Marshall, Big East champion and BCS runner-up Virginia Tech (who went undefeated during the regular season), and eventual National Champion Florida State (who finished the year undefeated). The 1999 meeting between the Tigers and Seminoles was dubbed the "Bowden Bowl" and was the first time that a father and son coached against each other in Division I football. FSU won the game 17&ndash[16] ;14 in front of the largest crowd in the history of Death Valley.

During Bowden's tenure, the Tigers were bowl eligible every season but didn't win any ACC championships (the 2004 team turned down a bowl invitation as punishment for a massive brawl during a game against the University of South Carolina). Despite this, Bowden has been criticized for his teams underachieving. The 2000 Tigers started 8–0 and rose as high as #5 in the polls before losing three of their last four. The same thing happened during the 2006 season following a 7–1 start and with the team on the verge of winning the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers have also shown great resolve at points during Bowden's tenure. The 2003 team won four games at the end of the season to finish 9–4, which included victories over #3 Florida State and #7 Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The 2004 season saw the Tigers falter to a 1–4 start only to win five of their last six games (which included an overtime upset of #10 Miami), while the 2005 team overcame a 2–3 start to finish the season 9–4.

Tommy Bowden agreed to resign for $3.5 million on October 13, 2008, after leading the team to a disappointing 3–3 record (1–2 ACC) at the midpoint of a season in which the Tigers were an almost unanimous preseason pick to win their first ACC title under Bowden and were ranked #9 in the preseason polls. Assistant coach Dabo Swinney was named interim head coach.[17]

Dabo Swinney era: 2008–present

The Clemson Tigers take the field during the 2009 Music City Bowl.

Following the departure of Tommy Bowden, Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to a 4–2 record, finishing the 2008 regular season at 7–6. On December 1, 2008, Swinney signed a five-year contract as Clemson's head coach.[18]

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, avenging their upset loss in the 2006 Music City Bowl.

On December 31, 2010 Clemson was defeated by the South Florida Bulls, 31–26, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina. In January 2011, Swinney hired new offensive coordinator Chad Morris, running backs coach Tony Elliott, and defensive line coach Marion Hobby.

On September 17, 2011, Clemson beat the 2010 National Champions, the #21-ranked Auburn Tigers, and ended Auburns 17-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in the nation.

On October 1, 2011, Clemson became the first ACC team to beat three nationally-ranked opponents in a row: #21-ranked Auburn, #11-ranked Florida State, and #11-ranked Virginia Tech.

On November 12, 2011, Clemson defeated Wake Forest, winning the ACC Atlantic Division title.

Current coaching staff

Name Position Alma Mater
Dabo Swinney Head Coach University of Alabama
Kevin Steele Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach University of Tennessee
Charlie Harbison Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach Gardner-Webb University
Chad Morris Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Texas A&M University
Jeff Scott Recruiting Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Clemson University
Dan Brooks Defensive Line Coach Western Carolina University
Tony Elliott Running Backs Coach Clemson University
Marion Hobby Defensive Ends Coach University of Tennessee
Danny Pearman Tight Ends/Offensive Tackles Coach Clemson University
Robbie Caldwell Offensive Line Coach Furman University


South Carolina

Georgia Tech

Clemson's rivalry with Georgia Tech dates to 1898 with the first game being played in Atlanta. The game was played in Atlanta for 45 of the first 47 matchups. When Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1978, The series went to a more traditional home-and-home setup beginning with the 1983 game. When the ACC expanded to 12 teams and split into two divisions in 2005, Clemson and Georgia Tech were placed in opposite divisions but were designated permanent cross-divisional rivals so that the series may continue uninterrupted. The two schools are 127 miles apart and connected to each other by Interstate 85. This distance is slightly closer than that between Clemson and traditional rival South Carolina (137 miles). As of 2011, Georgia Tech leads the series 51-25-2. The Jackets also lead the series 15-14 since Georgia Tech joined the ACC.

NC State

The yearly conference and divisional matchup between NC State is known as the Textile Bowl for the schools similar missions in research and development for the textile industry in the Carolinas. The first meeting of the two schools occurred in 1899 and as of 2010, Clemson holds a 51-28-1 series advantage.

Boston College

The O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy was created in 2008 by the Boston College Gridiron Club in order to honor the tradition at both schools and to honor the legacy of Charlie O'Rourke and Banks McFadden, who played during the leather helmet era. The club plans to make this an annual presentation. Clemson first met Boston College on the football field in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic, the first ever bowl game for the Tigers and Eagles. Over the next 43 years, the teams met a total of 13 times. In 2005, Boston College joined the ACC and the Atlantic Division. Since then, the game has been played on an annual basis with Boston College winning 3 of the first 5 games as divisional foes. As of 2011 the Tigers lead the series at 10-9-2.

Florida State

Between 1999 and 2007 the ACC Atlantic Division matchup between Clemson and Florida State was referred to as the "Bowden Bowl" to reflect the father-son head coach matchup between Bobby Bowden (Father, FSU) and Tommy Bowden (Son, Clemson). Their first meeting, in 1999, was the first time in Division I-A history that a father and a son met as opposing head coaches in a football game. Bobby Bowden won the first four matchups extending FSU's winning streak over Clemson to 11 dating back to 1992. Since 2002, Clemson won 4 of the last 5, including a 26-10 win in Clemson over then-#3 FSU, the highest ranking opponent to ever be defeated by the Tigers. Also during this time the Tigers recorded a 27-20 win in Tallahassee in 2006 which broke a 17-year losing streak in Doak Campbell Stadium. 2007 was the last Bowden Bowl game as Tommy resigned as head coach in October 2008. As of 2011, Florida State leads the overall series 17-8.


The Bulldogs and the Tigers have been perpetual thorns in one another’s sides; Clemson’s only regular-season losses of the 1978, 1982, and 1991 campaigns all came between the hedges, whereas Georgia’s only regular-season setback during the three years of the Herschel Walker era came in Death Valley during Danny Ford’s 1981 national championship run.

During the two programs’ simultaneous glory days of the early 1980s, no rivalry in all of college football was more important at the national level, as Scott Woerner’s dramatic returns in 1980 and the nine turnovers forced by the Tigers the following fall effectively settled the eventual No. 1 ranking. Likewise, no rivalry of that period was more competitive, as evidenced by the critical eleventh-hour field goals kicked by Kevin Butler in 1984 and by David Treadwell more than once later in the decade. Despite blowouts in 1990, 1994, and 2003, the series typically has remained competitive in more recent days, as two of the last three meetings were decided by two points in 1995 and three points in 2002. However, Georgia maintains a 41-17-4 lead in the series, including 5 wins in a row dating back to 1991.


These old rivals first played in 1899, but until 2010, had not faced each other in the regular season since 1971. Auburn leads the overall series 34-12-2 and had won 14 games in a row, dating back to 1952, before Clemson snapped the streak in 2011, by beating #21 ranked Auburn 38-24 in Death Valley, in front of a crowd of exactly 82,000. Along with snapping one streak, Clemson also snapped Auburn's seventeen game winning streak coming off of the 2009-2011 seasons. The Georgia Dome will host the Auburn-Clemson rivalry in the upcoming 2012 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff.

All-time record vs. current ACC teams

Opponent Won Lost Tied Percentage Streak First Meeting
Boston College 10 9 2 .524 Won 1 1940
Duke 35 16 1 .683 Won 3 1934
Florida State 8 17 0 .292 Won 1 1970
Georgia Tech 25 49 2 .342 Won 1 1898
Maryland 31 26 2 .542 Won 1 1952
Miami 3 6 0 .333 Lost 1 1945
North Carolina 35 19 1 .639 Won 1 1897
North Carolina State 51 27 1 .652 Won 7 1899
Virginia 37 8 1 .815 Won 2 1955
Virginia Tech 18 12 1 .583 Won 1 1900
Wake Forest 58 17 1 .770 Won 2 1933
Totals 307 206 12 .596

Bowl games

Season Coach Bowl Game Date W/L Opponent PF PA
1939 Jess Neely Cotton January 1, 1940 W Boston College 6 3
1948 Frank Howard Gator January 1, 1949 W Missouri 24 23
1950 Frank Howard Orange January 1, 1951 W Miami 15 14
1951 Frank Howard Gator January 1, 1952 L Miami 0 14
1956 Frank Howard Orange January 1, 1957 L Colorado 21 27
1958 Frank Howard Sugar January 1, 1959 L LSU 0 7
1959 Frank Howard Bluebonnet December 19, 1959 W TCU 23 7
1977 Charley Pell Gator December 30, 1977 L Pittsburgh 3 34
1978 Danny Ford Gator December 29, 1978 W Ohio State 17 15
1979 Danny Ford Peach December 31, 1979 L Baylor 18 24
1981 Danny Ford Orange January 1, 1982 W Nebraska 22 15
1985 Danny Ford Independence December 21, 1985 L Minnesota 13 20
1986 Danny Ford Gator December 27, 1986 W Stanford 27 21
1987 Danny Ford Florida Citrus January 1, 1988 W Penn State 35 10
1988 Danny Ford Florida Citrus January 2, 1989 W Oklahoma 13 6
1989 Danny Ford Gator December 30, 1989 W West Virginia 27 7
1990 Ken Hatfield Hall of Fame January 1, 1991 W Illinois 30 0
1991 Ken Hatfield Florida Citrus January 1, 1992 L California 13 37
1993 Tommy West Peach December 31,1993 W Kentucky 14 13
1995 Tommy West Gator January 1, 1996 L Syracuse 0 41
1996 Tommy West Peach December 28, 1996 L LSU 7 10
1997 Tommy West Peach January 2, 1998 L Auburn 17 21
1999 Tommy Bowden Peach December 30,1999 L Mississippi State 7 17
2000 Tommy Bowden Gator January 1, 2001 L Virginia Tech 20 41
2001 Tommy Bowden Humanitarian Bowl December 31, 2001 W Louisiana Tech 49 24
2002 Tommy Bowden Tangerine December 23, 2002 L Texas Tech 15 55
2003 Tommy Bowden Peach January 2, 2004 W Tennessee 27 14
2005 Tommy Bowden Champs Sports December 27, 2005 W Colorado 19 10
2006 Tommy Bowden Music City December 29, 2006 L Kentucky 20 28
2007 Tommy Bowden Chick-fil-A December 31,2007 L Auburn 20 23
2008 Dabo Swinney Gator January 1, 2009 L Nebraska 21 26
2009 Dabo Swinney Music City December 27, 2009 W Kentucky 21 13
2010 Dabo Swinney Meineke Car Care December 31, 2010 L South Florida 26 31
Total 33 Bowl Games 16-17 590 651

National championship

Clemson finished their undefeated 1981 season with a 22-15 victory over the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and were named the national champions.[20]

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl Opponent PF PA
1981 Danny Ford AP, UPI/Coaches' Poll 12-0 Orange Bowl Nebraska 22 15
National championships: 1

† Other consensus selectors included Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, Litkenhous, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, NY Times, Poling, Sagarin, and Sporting News[21]

Undefeated seasons

Since its beginnings in 1896, Clemson has completed five undefeated seasons.[22] This includes three perfect seasons in which the Tigers were undefeated and untied:

  • 1900, 1906, 1948, 1950, 1981

Conference championships

Clemson won the Southern Inercollegiate Athletic Association in 1900 and 1902 along with the Southern Conference title in 1940 and 1948.[23] Their 13 ACC titles (12 outright, 1 tied) is the all-time ACC football record.

Year Coach Conference Overall Record Conference Record
1900 John Heisman Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 6–0 4–0
1902 John Heisman Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 6–1 6–0
1940 Frank Howard Southern Conference 6–2–1 4–0
1948 Frank Howard Southern Conference 11–0 5–0
1956 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 7–2–2 4–0–1
1958 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 8–3 5–1
1959 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 9–2 6–1
1965 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 5–5 5–2
1966 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 6–4 6–1
1967 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 6–4 6–0
1978 Charley Pell Atlantic Coast Conference 11–1 6–0
1981 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 12–0 6–0
1982 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 9–1–1 6–0
1986 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 8–2–2 5–1–1
1987 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 10–2 6–1
1988 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 10–2 6–1
1991 Ken Hatfield Atlantic Coast Conference 9–2–1 6–0–1
Conference Titles: 17

Note: Bold years indicate outright conference titles

† In 1965, South Carolina violated participation rules relating to two ineligibile players and was required to forfeit wins against North Carolina State and Clemson.[24] North Carolina State and Clemson were then declared co-champions.[25]

Conference affiliations

Divisional championships

In 2005, the Atlantic Coast Conference divided into two divisions of six teams each and began holding a ACC Championship Game at the conculsion of the regular football season to determine the ACC Football Champions. Clemson won its first outright ACC Atlantic Division championship in 2009, and is 0-1 in the ACC Championship Game.

Year Coach Division Championship Game Result Opponent PF PA
2009 Dabo Swinney Atlantic L Georgia Tech 34 39
Totals -- 1 0-1 -- 34 39

† On 7/18/2011, Georgia Tech was required to vacate their victory due to NCAA violations and the game is considered by the NCAA and ACC to have no winner.[26]

National polls

Clemson has ended their football season ranked 25 times in either the AP or Coaches Poll.[27]

Year Record AP Poll† Coaches‡
1939 9–1–0 12
1948 11–0–0 11
1950 9–0– 1 10 12
1951 7–3–0 20
1956 7–2–2 19
1957 7–3–0 18
1958 8–3–0 12 13
1959 9–2–0 11 11
1977 8–3–1 19
1978 11–1–0 6 7
1981 12–0–0 1 1
1982 9–1–1 8
1983 9–1–1 11
1986 8–2–2 17 19
1987 10–2–0 12 10
1988 10–2–0 9 8
1989 10–2–1 12 11
1990 10–2–0 9 9
1991 9–2–1 18 17
1993 9–3–0 23 22
2000 9–3–0 16 14
2003 9–4–0 22 22
2005 8–4–0 21 21
2007 9–4–0 21 22
2009 9–5–0 24

AP Poll began selecting the nation's Top 20 teams in 1939. Only the Top 10 teams were recognized from 1962-1967. The AP Poll expanded back to the Top 20 teams in 1968. In 1989, it began recognizing the Top 25 teams.

‡ UPI/Coaches Poll began selecting its Top 20 teams on a weekly basis in 1950 before expanding to the nations's Top 25 teams in 1990.

Individual award winners

College Football Hall of Fame inductees

In 1951, the College Football Hall of Fame opened in South Bend, Indiana. Clemson has had 3 players and 3 former coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame.[28]

Name Years at Clemson Position Year Inducted
Jeff Davis 1978-1981 Linebacker 2007
John Heisman 1900-1903 Head Coach 1954
Frank Howard 1940-1969 Head Coach 1989
Terry Kinard 1978-1982 Safety 2001
Banks McFadden 1937-1939 Halfback 1959
Jess Neely 1931-1939 Head Coach 1971

Retired Numbers

Number Name Years at Clemson Position Year Retired
4 Steve Fuller 1975-1978 Quarterback
66 Banks McFadden 1937-1939 Halfback 1987
28 CJ Spiller 2006-2009 Running Back 2010

National award winners

  • CBS/Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year
Terry Kinard (1982)
Da'Quan Bowers (2010)
Da'Quan Bowers (2010)

National coaching awards

Danny Ford (1981)
  • Woody Hayes Trophy
Danny Ford (1981)
Danny Ford (1981)

Atlantic Coast Conference awards

  • ACC Player of the Year (7)
Buddy Gore (1967)
Steve Fuller (1977, 1978)
Jeff Davis (1981)
William Perry (1984)
Michael Dean Perry (1987)
CJ Spiller (2009)
  • ACC Coach of the Year (8)
Frank Howard (1958, 1966)
Red Parker (1974)
Charley Pell (1977, 1978)
Danny Ford (1981)
Tommy Bowden (1999, 2003)
  • ACC Offensive Player of the Year (1)
CJ Spiller (2009)
  • ACC Defensive Player of the Year (4)
Keith Adams (1999)
Leroy Hill (2004)
Gaines Adams (2006)
Da'Quan Bowers (2010)
  • ACC Rookie of the Year (5)
Chuck McSwain (1981)
Terry Allen (1987)
Ronald Williams (1990)
Anthony Simmons (1995)
James Davis (2005)

Atlantic Coast Conference 50th Anniversary football team

On July 23, 2002 in celebration of the Atlantic Coast Conference's 50th Anniversary, a 120-member blue ribbon committee selected the Top 50 football players in ACC history. Clemson led all conference schools with the most players selected to the Golden Anniversary team.[29] Each of Clemson's honorees were All-Americans and former NFL players. The nine selectees from Clemson were:

Current NFL players


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  3. ^ "Clemson Color Palette". 
  4. ^ "John Heisman". COLLEGE NETWORK. Retrieved 09/17/2011. 
  5. ^ "John Heisman". John Heisman. Retrieved 09/17/2011. 
  6. ^ "Gift from Death Valley became "Death Valley" tradition". Mark Schlabach. Retrieved 09/17/2011. 
  7. ^ "Red Parker returns to The Citadel". Ken Burger/ The Post and Courier. Retrieved 09/17/2011. 
  8. ^ NCAA Public Infraction Report
  9. ^ "Clemson placed on probation" (PDF). The NCAA News (National Collegiate Athletic Association) 19 (28): 10. 1982-11-29. Retrieved 2008-01-21. [dead link] Partial quote of the NCAA press release
  10. ^ For Release After 11 p.m. (EST)
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  12. ^ Associated Press (1990-06-01). "Clemson on Probation". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  13. ^ Associated Press (1990-01-19). "Clemson Drops Ford With $1 Million Deal". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
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  15. ^ Clemson coach quits. The New York Times, 1993-11-25.
  16. ^ "HISTORY OF BOWDEN BOWL". MSN TV. Retrieved 09/17/2011. 
  17. ^ Mark Schlabach, Bowden ousted at Clemson; coach 'deserved' to be fired, QB says,, October 13, 2008, Accessed October 13, 2008.
  18. ^ Associated Press, Clemson promotes interim coach Swinney to permanent job with 5-year deal,, December 1, 2008, Accessed December 1, 2008.
  19. ^ "2011 Clemson Football Coaches". Clemson University Athletics. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Papanek, John (January 11, 1982). "Year of the Tigers". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  21. ^ "Past Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I FBS) National Champions". NCAA. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Clemson Yearly Totals". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Clemson Composite Championship Listing". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  24. ^ "ACC Champions" (PDF). 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Media Guide (PDF) (Atlantic Coast Conference): Page 93. 2007. Retrieved 2011-09-05 
  25. ^ Alex Riley (October 11,2009). "USC football's lost title team of 1965". The State. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  26. ^ (July 18,2011). "NCAA places Georgia Tech on probation". Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Clemson in the Polls". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  28. ^ "Hall of Famers: Clemson". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  29. ^ "ACC 50th Anniversary Football Team Announced". July 23, 2002. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 

Further reading

  • Bob Bradley, Sam Blackman, Chuck Kriese (1999). Clemson: Where the Tigers Play - The History of Clemson University Athletics. Sports Publishing. ISBN 1-5826-1369-9. 

External links

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