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Clemson Football…An In Depth Look

Clemson Football…An In Depth Look

July 10, 2001


Kyle Young and Chad Carson were first-team AcademicAll-Americans in 2000. Clemson was the only Division I school inthe nation with two first-team selections. It was the secondstraight year Young has been a first-team choice at center, whileCarson was a second-team linebacker in 1999. Both return thisseason, making Clemson the only Division I school in the nationwith two returning first-team Academic All-Americans. Young isstriving to become just the second offensive lineman in collegefootball history to be a three-time first-team AcademicAll-American. He could also become just the second ACC playerregardless of position to do it. Clemson’s football team has hadfive of its top six semesters on record under Tommy Bowden. Theteam had a record number of ACC Academic Honor Roll students in thefirst semester of the 2000-01 academic year (41) and the top totalin the Clemson athletic department (37) for the second semester.Clemson will have seven graduate students in its starting lineupfor the 2001 season. The list includes All-America center KyleYoung, Heisman Trophy candidate Woodrow Dantzler, Thorpe Awardcandidate Charles Hafley, Nick Eason, the MVP of Clemson’s 2000defense, starting wide receiver Matt Bailey, All-ACC guard WillMerritt, and starting guard T.J. Watkins. Eason’s graduation isparticularly noteworthy, as he still has two years of eligibility.


Clemson had four players earn All-America honors in 2000, tiedfor the second highest single season total in school history. Onlythe 1981 National Championship team had more. Leading theAll-Americans last year was Keith Adams, a consensusselection and one of three finalists for the Butkus Award. RodGardner and Robert Carswell were two seniors on the 2000 team whomade All-America teams. Kyle Young was a second-team selection byFootball News and a third-team choice by Sporting News. He is theonly returning All-American on the 2001 Clemson team. Young wasalso one of three finalists for the Rimington Award, which is givento the nation’s top center. Clemson has had a history of decoratedfootball players. The program boasts 52 different players who havebeen named a first, second or third-team All-American over theyears. The program has had at least one All-American 24 of the last25 years.

Bowl Games

Clemson has been to 24 bowl games in its history, one of thetop 20 totals in college football history. Clemson’s12 wins and 50percent winning percentage also rank among the top 20 in collegefootball history. Clemson won five straight bowl games between1986-90, one of the top bowl winning streaks in college footballhistory. Clemson defeated Stanford, Penn State, Oklahoma, WestVirginia and Illinois during the stretch. The school has beatensome of the top coaches in college football history in bowlcompetition. Among the list of celebrated coaches who have lost toClemson in bowl competition are Frank Leahy (second winningestcoach in college football history on a percentage basis), JoePaterno (second winningest coach in Division I on a total victoriesbasis), Barry Switzer (fourth winningest Division I Coach on awinning percentage basis) and Tom Osborne (fifth winningestDivision I Coach on a winning percentage basis). Hall of Famecoaches Woody Hayes and Don Faurot have also dropped bowl games toClemson.


Clemson has an experienced coaching staff, the major reason forClemson’s sudden improvement the last two years. The staff is ledby Tommy Bowden, a member of the first family of college footballcoaches. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in his rookie season atClemson (1999) and was a semifinalist for National Coach of theYear by Football News in 2000. Bowden has put together a staff thathas a combined 82 bowl games of experience. Leading the way ofveteran Clemson assistants in terms of bowl experience are ReggieHerring (15 bowls), Brad Scott (14 bowls) and Rick Stockstill (ninebowls). Scott and Mike O’Cain are two former Division I headcoaches on Bowden’s Staff. Clemson has a legendary history when itcomes to coaching. Three former Tiger mentors (Frank Howard, JohnHeisman and Jess Neely) are already in the college football Hall ofFame. Charley Pell, Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield are threecontemporary coaches who have added to the Clemson legend byleading the program to top 10 seasons.

Death Valley

Clemson Memorial Stadium, known as Death Valley since the1940s, is one of the top football facilities in the nation. Thispast year it was listed as the top stadium in the ACC by TheSporting News. Many times in the last decade it has ranked amongthe top 10 football stadiums in the nation. Clemson ranked seventhin the nation in total attendance in 2000. The stadium is thecenter of many Clemson traditions. According to many, the Tigershave the top stadium entrance in all of sports. The team enters thestadium from the top of a hill at the East end of the stadium.Prior to running down the100-foot hill, the team rubs Howard’s Rockfor inspiration. It is electrifying for the 85,000 Clemson fans whohave come to root on the Tigers. Clemson Memorial Stadium isundergoing a multi-million dollar renovation over the next fewyears. Clemson players and fans will benefit from a new lockerroom, brick fade, press facility, “Fan Zone” and restaurant.


Clemson is one of the most televised teams in college football.Last year all 12 Clemson games were seen over NBC, ABC, ESPN,ESPN2, Jefferson Pilot or College Sports Southeast. Clemson hasaveraged almost eight games a year on television over the last 10years. The Bowden Bowl is a special game at Clemson and FloridaState, as coaching father and son match wits on the sidelines. Theevent is what college football is all about and it brings to theClemson campus (Nov. 3 this year) media from the top markets in thenation. The last time the game was held at Clemson (1999), 755media were in attendance, an all-time ACC record. Clemson’sradio/TV package is among the best in the nation. All Clemsonfootball games are shown on a tape-delay basis in addition to thelive coverage. Games are seen throughout the Southeast on CollegeSports Southeast the week after the game and replayed throughoutthe summer.

First-Round Selections

Rod Gardner became the 20th first-round draft pick in Clemsonhistory when he was selected as the #15 pick in the first round bythe Washington Redskins in April 2001. Gardner finished his careeras the school’s all-time leading receiver and was third in totalreception yardage. Gardner set an example for all future Clemsonfootball players to follow. He was a first-team All-American, afirst-round draft choice, and graduated in May of 2001. Few collegefootball players could boast of that triple last year. Clemson hashad a first-round draft choice four of the last five years. Thelist includes Trevor Pryce, already an All-Pro with the DenverBroncos, and Anthony Simmons, the top tackler for the SeattleSeahawks in 2000.

Hall of Fame

Former Clemson All-American Terry Kinard will become just thesecond Tiger player to be named to the College Football Hall ofFame when he is enshrined this coming December. He will join BanksMcFadden, a Clemson All-America tailback from 1937-39 in the Hallof Fame in South Bend, IN. Kinard is the only Clemson footballplayer to win a national individual award. He was named the 1982National Defensive Player-of-the-Year by CBS Sports. That year, hissenior season, he was a first-team unanimous All-American, the onlyunanimous All-American in Clemson history. Kinard has continued toreceive honors after he left Clemson. Last year, he was named toSports Illustrated’s All-Century team of College Football. He wasnamed to USA Today’s All-Decade team of college football for the1980s. After his Clemson career he went on to an All-Pro and SuperBowl Championship career with the New York Giants.

Heisman Candidate

Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler was among the topcandidates for the nation’s top college honor last year seven gamesinto the season. He was on pace to become the first collegequarterback in history to rush of 1000 yards and pass for 2000 inthe same season. But an injury in the eighth game of the year atNorth Carolina curtailed his chances. Despite the injury, Dantzlerset 16 Clemson school records in 2000, including a pair of ACCmarks for quarterback rushing when he led the Tigers to a 9-3record and a #14 ranking ranking in the USA Today poll. In thepreseason for the 2001 season, Dantzler is listed among the topfive candidates for the Heisman by Lindy’s, andESPN the Magazine. He is ranked as the number-one candidate for theDavey O’Brien Award by Lindy’s.


Clemson has been one of the most improved teams in collegefootball over the last two years. Each of the last two seasonsClemson has improved its victory total by three wins over theprevious campaign. Clemson and UNLV are the only two schools in thenation that can make that claim. Tommy Bowden has been a head coachfor four years (two at Tulane and two at Clemson) and his teamshave increased their victory total by exactly three victories eachseason. It is believed to be an unparalleled accomplishment incollege football history. Clemson jumped six spots in the ACCstandings between 1998 and 1999, Bowden’s first year at Clemson.This was the largest single year jump in the ACC standings inleague history.

National Championship

The 2001 season will mark the 20-year anniversary of thegreatest accomplishment in Clemson football history. The Tigerswere National Champions by every service in 1981, as they were theonly school in the nation with a perfect (12-0) record. The seasonincluded three wins over top 10 teams (Georgia, North Carolina andNebraska), the only team in college football to beat three top 10teams in 1981. The 1981 team had five All-Americans on its roster,including first-team selections Terry Kinard, Jeff Davis and PerryTuttle. Thirty-one players on the 1981 team were eventually draftedby the NFL and 22 players on the squad eventually played in theNFL. Twenty-three different players on the 1981 roster werefirst-team All-ACC at one time or another in their career. The 1981team will be honored at the 2001 Clemson vs. Florida State game atDeath Valley.

NFL Influence

Clemson had 19 former players in the NFL during the 2000season. The list included 11 different former Tigers who wereeither first-round draft choices, Super Bowl champions or Pro Bowlselections. Over the years, 20 former Clemson players have won 28Super Bowl Championship rings. The leader is Jeff Bostic, who was astarter on three Super Bowl championship teams with the WashingtonRedskins. Clemson has had an alum on the Super Bowl Championshipteam five years in a row. Trevor Pryce, an All-ACC player atClemson in 1996, has already won two Super Bowl Championships andbeen a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He is the highest paiddefensive lineman in NFL history.

Poll Presense

Clemson has been consistently ranked among the top programs inthe nation, a tradition that dates to the 1930s. Clemson was ranked12th in the final AP poll at the end of the 1939 season, a 9-1campaign that concluded with a 6-3 victory over a Frank Leahycoached Boston College team. The 2000 season marked the 20th timeClemson has been ranked in the final top 25 of the Associated presspoll. Clemson’s highest ranking is #1 in 1981. The Tigers wereranked 16th in the final AP poll of 2000. Clemson once had a streakof 46 consecutive weeks ranked in the AP poll during the 1980s.Clemson was ranked in the final top 20 of the AP poll six times inthe 1980s. The Clemson program was fifth in the nation in winningpercentage in that decade.

Prominent Former Tigers

Dwight Clark was the MVP of the NFL in 1982 and he is now VicePresident and Player Personnel Director with the Cleveland Browns.He was the recipient of “The Catch” for the San Francisco 49ersagainst the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC championship game.Charlie Waters was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the DallasCowboys. He played on two Super Bowl Championship teams and is amember of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. The Perry Brothers,William and Michael Dean, were starters on Clemson’s 1984 defense.William played on Clemson’s national championship team as afreshman, then on the Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears of 1985.Michael Dean played in six Pro Bowls with Cleveland and Denver,more than any other former Tiger.

Public College of the Year

Clemson University was honored as the Public College of theYear by Time Magazine for 2000. The publication cited Clemson forits ability to creatively teach its students to communicate.”Clemson is on the cutting edge of thecommunication-across-the-curriculum movement, in which facultyintegrate not only writing, but also oral, visual and electroniccommunication in all the disciplines. Clemson is very competitiveacademically, thereby enhancing the value of its degree. Freshmanapplications have risen from 8000 in 1996 to nearly 10,500 in theyear 2000. The average SAT score for incoming freshmen in 2001 willbe near 1200, highest on record. The student to faculty ratio isjust 16/1. The undergraduate enrollment is a manageable 13,700Clemson has a variety of academic disciplines. There are 77different majors in the five major colleges. Eighty-four percent ofthe professors hold doctorate degrees.


Clemson has quite a rivalry with South Carolina, a rivalry thatdates to 1896, the first year of Clemson’s program. Over the years,Clemson has a record of 59-35-4 against the Gamecocks. Even thoughthe game was never played in Clemson until 1960, Clemson’s 59victories is a record for the Tiger program against one school.Clemson has defeated its rival each of the last four years, five ofthe last six and nine of the last 12. This year’s game will beplayed in Columbia, where Clemson has not lost since 1987 and hasjust one loss since 1980. The Clemson vs. South Carolina rivalryhas been played continuously since 1909. It is the third longestcontinuous active rivalry in college football.

Sports Program

Clemson has a strong all-around athletic program. The footballteam was one of 11 teams that ranked in the final top 25 of itsrespective polls. The golf team led the way with a #2 nationalfinish, while the women’s indoor track team was third in thenation. Both Clemson soccer teams finished the year in the top 10.Clemson had at least two All-ACC players on 14 of its 19 teams in2000-01. Nine different programs had at least two All-Americans.The program had 31 All-Americans last year, second highest singleyear on record. Clemson has had a history of upsetting top teams.Clemson defeated the #1 team in the nation in women’s soccer andmen’s basketball last year. The Clemson football team has at leastone win over a top 25 team every year since 1986.

Vickery Hall

Vickery Hall was constructed in 1991, the first self-standingfacility built for the academic needs of student-athletes in thenation. The facility has countless computers and a full-time staffof six people who supervise the off-the-field needs of Clemson’sathletes. The staff at Vickery Hall has had a direct positiveeffect on the academic performance of Clemson student-athletes.This past spring semester student-athletes had a combined GPA of2.80, highest on record. The overall student body had a 2.82 GPAand the 0.02 differential was the smallest on record. Clemson wasone of just six schools nationally to receive the CHAMPS LifeskillsAward from the National Athletic Directors Association in Septemberof 1999. The award is presented to athletic departments who haveexcelled in the area of student-athlete enrichment.