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Sep 17, 2023

Brent Breedin | The Last Word

By: Tim Bourret

Note: The following appears in the Florida Atlantic football gameday program.

I was fortunate to have Bob Bradley as my mentor when I came to Clemson in 1978. In addition to his basic guidance through my early years in the profession, his presence made my job a lot easier when I had a question about Tiger history. I just had to walk around the corner to the next office to ask him instead of spending hours poring through archives. He witnessed most of the events I had questions about.

He saw everything about Clemson sports between 1955, when he started as sports information director, until he passed away in October 2000.

However, I also had the good fortune to know Brent Breedin, who was Bradley’s predecessor in the position at Clemson from 1952-55. He was the sports editor of Anderson Daily Mail before that and traveled with Frank Howard’s teams.

When I had a question about Don King’s 1952 game at Fordham, the only game Clemson has played in New York City, he had all the details I needed for a football program story, and his knowledge led to a few additions to the Tiger recordbook.

King took over at single-wing tailback for this game at Fordham on Nov. 8, 1952 due to an injury to Billy Hair.

“King ran for 234 yards, including 215 in the first half, then never played the position again,” Breedin told me.

“What?” I responded.

King ran all over Fordham during that first half, including two rushing touchdowns of 70+ yards. The 215-yard total in the first half is still a school record for a half. But he suffered an injury at the end of the first half and could not run much in the second half. He finished with 234 yards in the 12-12 tie, the most rushing yards in a game by a Tiger until Cliff Austin had 260 against Duke in 1982. When Hair was healthy the next week, King went back to his normal quarterback position.

Even Bradley, reading this article from heaven, would agree that Breedin had the most diverse career among the history of Clemson sports information directors. He was certainly a candidate for “the most interesting man in the world.”

Breedin was born Nov. 3, 1925 in Beaufort, S.C. He was a Tiger fan as a youth and knew everything about Banks McFadden, but he attended and graduated from Washington & Lee in 1947.

He began his career as a reporter for Caller Times newspaper in Corpus Christi, Texas, then in 1949, he became the sports editor and columnist for Anderson Daily Mail, the afternoon newspaper back when there were two papers in town. That is when he began a close relationship with Howard and the Clemson program.

He was a go-getter and became a voter in the national AP poll. In 1950, he championed Clemson’s cause as a national team throughout its 9-0-1 season. He was one of nine voters (out of then nearly 300 voters back then with just 60 today) to rank Clemson No. 1 in the final 1950 poll. The Tigers finished No. 10 that year, the program’s first final top-10 ranking.

Howard hired Breedin to be his sports information director in 1952, and he held that position until October 1955, when he received an offer he could not refuse from Hunt Oil Company in Pakistan. To my knowledge, he is the only Tiger athletic department administrator to leave Clemson to take a job in Pakistan.

Breedin remained in Pakistan until 1958, when he received an offer to become Senator Strom Thurmond’s press secretary in Washington, D.C. He worked for Thurmond until 1960, when he went back into the business world as the information specialist for DuPont in Wilmington, Ohio.

In 1966, he returned to Washington, D.C. to become the editor of American College Public Relations Association. In 1972, he began a two-year stint as the director of public relations at Georgetown, then held the same position at Rice until 1987.

In retirement, he did freelance work, and perhaps his favorite task was to write an occasional article for the Clemson football gameday program.

Combined with his time as Clemson’s sports information director, Breedin’s time span of writing articles for this publication lasted 67 years, a record Bradley and I will never touch. His last article appeared in the 2019 Texas A&M gameday program when he wrote a story at age 93 about the success of the Clemson football program in seasons that ended in the number “9.”

Sadly, Breedin passed away in June at the age of 97. His mind was as sharp as could be until the end.

He only worked for Clemson for three years, but Breedin made a lasting contribution to Tiger athletics through his research and writing. And for many years, he made my job a lot easier.