Note: The following appears in the June issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
This issue of Orange The Experience puts a wrap on the 2015-16 year in Tiger athletics. It was quite a year, one of the best I can remember in terms of high level of success in a number of high-profile sports.
First, the Clemson football team reached the national championship game for just the second time in history. The 14-1 record set the school mark for wins by two, and in fact tied the national record for wins in a season by an FBS school.
The program was ranked No. 1 in the nation for six straight weeks, just the second season in history the program reached the ultimate level. The Tigers won the ACC Championship with a record nine wins for the first time. There were wins over Notre Dame, Florida State, North Carolina and Oklahoma, programs all highly ranked entering the contests.
During the same season, the men’s soccer program reached the national championship match for the first time since 1987. The squad finished with a 17-3-4 record, had six wins over top-25 teams and a 6-1-1 record in ACC matches. Four Tigers were All-Americans, including Andrew Tarbell, who turned in some of the top goalkeeping performances in Clemson history.
The women’s soccer program had a very significant season, especially considering where the program was five years ago. Eddie Radwanski earned regional coach-of-the-year honors and had Clemson ranked in the top 10 in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament. The team finished with a 14-4-2 record and earned an NCAA Tournament victory for the first time in eight years.
The men’s basketball team celebrated arguably the best regular-season week in program history when it defeated top-20 teams Miami (Fla.), Duke and Pittsburgh in the same week, a first in school history. Clemson won at Syracuse in January, and this win was eventually recognized as a first in school history. It was the first time Clemson defeated a team on the road that eventually reached the Final Four.
The men’s golf program won the ACC title for the first time since 2004 and finished in the top 15 in the nation for the first time in eight seasons. Stephen Behr Jr., was showered with national awards for his ability on the course and in the classroom. The first-team Academic All-American was Clemson’s first winner of the Byron Nelson Award.
The Tiger baseball team won the ACC Championship for the first time since 2006 and was a top-eight national seed in the NCAA Tournament. Monte Lee’s team won a school-record 14 one-run games by a single run and had 21 wins over teams that made the NCAA Tournament. No one could have predicted that when the season began.
In summary, Clemson won the ACC Championship in football, baseball and men’s golf in the same academic year for the first time. It was the first time Clemson won three ACC titles in three different sports since 2003-04, or since the ACC expanded to at least 14 schools. It marked the first time Clemson had played in a national championship deciding game or match twice in the same year in history.
But most Clemson fans are even more excited for next year. So am I.
A look to the high-profile sports rosters of football, men’s basketball and baseball shows that Clemson has a First-Team All-ACC student-athlete returning in all three for the first time ever. I know that is hard to believe, but it is the case.
Two of those athletes, Deshaun Watson and Seth Beer, are returning ACC Players-of-the-Year. It is only the second time in the 63 years of the ACC that the same school has the returning ACC Player-of-the-Year in football and baseball.
Jaron Blossomgame returns to the men’s basketball team after a First-Team All-ACC junior year in which he became the first Tiger to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent on three-point shots and 80 percent from the foul line in the same year. He is the first returning First-Team All-ACC player Clemson has had since 2000-01 and just the third overall.
Enjoy the beach this month. We will be back on the venues of competition before you know it.
October 16, 2018