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Clemson Football
Clemson Football

Clemson Football

Clemson Football

The Clemson Tigers are the American football crew at Clemson College. The Tigers contend in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Region (FBS) of the Public University Athletic Affiliation (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Gathering (ACC). As of late, the Tigers have been positioned among the best school football programs in the US. Founded in 1896, the program has more than 750 wins and three unanimous national championships in the modern era.

Clemson was a School Football Season finisher finalist in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019, coming out on top for the title game against Alabama in 2016 and 2018. Clemson won six undefeated seasons, six consecutive playoff appearances, 26 conference titles, and an eighth championship. Its alumni include more than 100 

All-Americans, 17 Academic All-Americans, and more than 250 players in the National Football League. Eight members of Clemson have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame: Players Banks McFadden, Terry Cunard, Jeff Davis, and C.J. Spiller alongside mentors John Heisman, Jess Neely, Forthright Howard, and Danny Passage.

Clemson’s eleven-season 10-game winning streak is the second-most active streak behind the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Clemson is one of the founding members of the ACC and has 20 ACC titles, the most of any member. Its 26 absolute gathering titles, including six sequential ACC titles from 2015 to 2020, are the vast majority of any ACC school.

In its eight undefeated regular seasons, Clemson has been crowned the national champion of the Pool era and finished with its third perfect season with a win over Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and the 2015 national championship with a 14-1 record. The championship finalist was the runner-up. 

In the accompanying season, Clemson came out on top for the public championship over No. 1 Alabama in school football’s most memorable public title rematch in 2016, and again in 2018. During the “Big Four” era. Clemson has 34 finishes in the Finals Top 25 in the modern era and has finished in either the Associated Press Finals Poll or the Coaches Finals Poll a total of 59 times since 1939.

The Tigers play their home games at Memorial Stadium on the university’s Clemson, South Carolina campus. The stadium’s nickname, “Death Valley,” was coined by Presbyterian College head coach Lonnie McMillan in 1948 after his teams routinely lost there. Memorial Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in college football.


  • Walter Riggs, “Father of Clemson Football”
  • Main article: History of Clemson Tigers football

Early History (1896-1939)

Walter Merritt Riggs can be described as the “Father of Clemson Football”, as he carried the game with him from the Rural and Mechanical School of Alabama (presently Reddish College). The way that Reddish-brown and Clemson share a similar mascot is no mishap.

Riggs allowed his players to pick the team mascot and, although this may have influenced their decision, the players chose the Tigers because Princeton University had just won the national championship. Riggs coordinated and mentor the baby Tiger group in 1896. With little money to spend on uniforms, Riggs brought with him some of Auburn’s old practice uniforms, consisting of orange and navy jerseys.

They were faded, worse than navy orange. Riggs, therefore, changed the school’s primary color to orange and the navy’s faded purple, known today as the official regalia.[9] The team became a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). Played on, which was the first Southern Athletics Conference.

Clemson Football
Clemson Football

1896 Clemson Tigers Team.

When the Tigers traveled to Greenville on Halloween to play Furman in their first game, only Coach Riggs and backfield player Frank Thompkins had ever seen football play. Today at Clemson, the football field is named Noteworthy Riggs Field after Walter Riggs.

Riggs drove the group to a 2-1 record in his most memorable year.

 He was then pushed aside by the military cadets/students, who felt that he should focus on his academic duties instead of coaching the team for free. William M. Williams trained the Tigers in 1897, directing them to a 2-2 record. 

The team defeated South Carolina for the first time and became the state champion.[11] In 1898, John Panton led the Tigers to a 3–1 record. In 1899, when the Clemson Athletic Association could no longer afford the coaching salary, Riggs again took the reins, one of only two Clemson football coaches to return to the position after leaving the position. The 1899 squad went 4-2. Riggs’ general record of 6-3 gives him a .667 winning rate.

 After a decade as a professor of mechanical engineering, he was named acting president of Clemson Agricultural College in 1910, confirmed by the Board of Trustees as permanent president on March 7, 1911. Visit Washington DC to meet with officials from other land grant agencies.

John W. Heisman on Bowman Field, Clemson’s most memorable turf.

Riggs hired John Heisman to coach Clemson. The Heisman lasted just four years at Clemson, where he compiled a 19–3–2 record, a .833 percentage, the best in Clemson football history. In four seasons, he had two SIAA titles.[13] In his first season in 1900, he coached the Tigers to their first undefeated season (6–0), [3] and first conference championship.

Outscored their opponents 222-10 – including a 64-0 win over Davidson on opening day. The largest score ever scored in the South.[14] There were various other “firsts” that season, including the school’s first losses to the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The main close game was with South Atlantic School VPI. The 1902 group won the SIAA once more.

 It was the principal season to end with both Expectation Sadler and Carl Seton. One author reviews, “Seaton and Trust Sadler were the best close finishes Clemson likely never had.” [15] The solitary loss of the year was the first to South Carolina beginning around 1896.

The 1903 group at Clemson might have been the Heisman’s ideal. After a 73-0 defeat of Georgia Tech in 1903, the Yellow Coats recruited Heisman as their most memorable full-time football trainer. Fullback Muscle head Hanvey scrambled for 104 yards in the principal half. 

The Atlanta Constitution composed that “Hanvey, the Clemson fullback, outlived them all. On numerous occasions he was sent through the line for gains of 10, 15, and 20 yards, and his handles were magnificent”.[ 17] Later in the 1903 season, Clemson tied 11-11 in a game charged as the “SIAA Title Game”.

Clemson Football
Clemson Football

Sheik Shelley, the only Clemson alum to coach the Tigers

After the Heisman left Clemson to become the head coach at Georgia Tech, Sheik Shelley, a tight end for the Tigers in the 1890s, coached the 1904 team to a 3–3–1 record – Clemson’s. Only graduate to serve as head coach. Alma mater Eddie Cookhams, the future innovator of the former pass, had just lost out to Phil King for the Wisconsin job when he accepted to coach Clemson’s 1905 team. 

The team lost to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech but shut out Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn while featuring Heisman-surviving stars like Fritz Furtick and Puss Derrick. Bob Williams, who won the Heisman in 1902, came to Clemson in 1906, and also coached the 1909 and 1913-1915 teams. 

The Tigers went undefeated in 1906 with a 4–0–3 record with wins against Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, and a John Heisman-coached Georgia Tech team. Clemson’s first forward pass came during a game against Tech in Atlanta. Left end Powell Likes, returns to the kick but instead lobs a 30-yard pass to George Warren. Clemson won 10-0.1909 USC-Clemson was the primary game transmission in the state by the Unified Remote Message Organization.

William Schlatter starred in 1913 and 1914 and was the son of Augustus “Shorty” Schlatter, a Clemson College dean. Hall was in charge of a German immigrant.[19] Frank Shaughnessy captained the 1907 team. 4–4 record. Captain McLauren and RT Gaston manned either tackle position. Vanderbilt legend Stan Stone posted just a 1-6 record in 1908. Captain Stacker Coles was an All-Southern. Frank Dobson posted an overall record of 11–12–1 from 1910 to 1912. Weinhart had a 3–6 record in 1916. 

Edward Donahue of Washington and Lee led the Tigers to a 21–12–3 record in three seasons from 1917 to 1920. Stumpy Banks scored a school-record five touchdowns against Furman in 1917.[20][21] Yen Lightsey starred in 1919 and 1920. Dr. Stewart coached the Tigers through the transition from the SIAA to the Southern Conference from 1921 to 1922 with a 6–10–2 record. Bud Saunders drove the Tigers to a 10-22-1 record.

From 1923 to 1926 Josh Cody instructed the Tigers from 1927 to 1930, posting a 29-11-1 record. During Cody’s tenure, the Tigers went undefeated at home (13–0–1) and against South Carolina (3–0). In 1927 Cody gave Reed Sanders his first coaching job as backfield coach. O. K. Presley made third-team All-American in 1928. “It’s hard to find a better center than Clemson’s Captain O.K. Presley,” commented previous South Carolina lead trainer Billy Laval.

 In May 1929, with rumors swirling that he might leave to coach a big-name program, students, faculty, and staff held a collection to buy him a brand new Black Buick automobile. Raymond Johnson wrote on Cody’s death: “Josh Cody wanted to be Vanderbilt’s coach so badly that he left the headman’s job at Clemson College after four successful seasons.” 

In 1931, Jesse Neely (another McGuigan product, and former head coach at Rhodes College and assistant at Alabama) became Clemson’s head football coach. During his residency, Neely drove the Tigers to a 43-35-7 record. His final season at Clemson was a turning point for the Tigers’ program. His team went 9-1 during that season, finishing second to Duke in the Southern Conference.

 The Tigers also earned 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 No. 12 in the final AP poll. Clemson also had its first Associated Press All-American that year in Banks McFadden.Jess Neely, alongside then-athletic chief Rupert Fike, established the IPTAY Grant Asset, which upholds the Clemson athletic office. 

Acronym for “I Pay Ten A Year” as it asked boosters to donate when it was founded in 1934, IPTAY has since become one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collegiate sports funds and second to none. has become a model for programs.

Clemson Football
Clemson Football

The Frank Howard Era (1940-1969)

After Jess Neely became the head coach at Rice, his line coach, Frank Howard, was named his successor. Known for his colorful personality, and penchant for imaginative language with improbable and improbable stories, in his 30 years at Clemson, Howard compiled a 165–118–12 record, a 3–3 bowl record, two Southern Won a conference championship, and six ACC championships. 

Seven of Howard’s teams finished the year in at least one final poll. During his time at Clemson, Howard also oversaw the athletic department, and ticket sales, and was an assistant coach for the baseball team. He also incorporated single-wing, T-formation, and I-formation offenses at various points during his coaching career at Clemson.

In Sterling’s 1948 season, the team won the Southern Conference Championship (Howard’s first of eight). The Tigers also won their second bowl game, a Gator Bowl win over Missouri in 1948, was ranked 11th nationally, and Howard was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year. 

For the rest of his life, Howard credited the 1948 team with saving his job. Howard nearly repeated the 1948 feat in 1950 when the Tigers were ranked tenth by the Associated Press with a 9–0–1 season and a 15–14 win over Miami (Florida) in Clemson’s first Orange Bowl win. In January 1952, after a 7-2 regular season campaign, the Tigers were invited back to the Gator Bowl, and again in 1956 as conference champions, Clemson played in the 1957 Orange Bowl.

 In their second Gator Bowl trip, Miami defeated Clemson 14–0. Colorado outscored Clemson 20–0, then trailed 21–20 in the return game, before finally defeating the Tigers 27–21 in the 1957 Orange Bowl. Two seasons later, after an 8–3 season, the Tigers played in the 1959 Sugar Bowl and, with their stout defense, held off the No. 1-ranked LSU Tigers before losing 7–0, resulting in LSU The national championship was held. 

The invitation to play in the inaugural Blue Bonnet Bowl in December 1959 was the eighth bowl Howard had been a part of as a player, assistant coach, or head coach. It was the Clemson team’s seventh bowl trip and sixth in 12 years. Howard said Clemson’s 23-7 victory over seventh-ranked Texas Christian was the best performance by a Clemson team ever. 1966.

As the style of football evolved in the 1960s, Howard’s ground game became outdated, and Clemson’s gridiron fortunes waned. The Tigers’ last winning season under Howard came in 1967. On December 10, 1969, he retired as the nation’s fifth-winningest coach. On February 4, 1971, he was named Assistant Vice President of the University. 

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On June 30, 1974, he retired from the university’s payroll but continued to come to his office daily until ill health slowed him down, serving as Clemson’s ambassador until his death in 1996. The hill before home games began under Coach Howard. The playing field at Memorial Stadium was named “Frank Howard Field” after his retirement in 1974 in honor of his many years of service to the university.

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