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Clemson Football Game Program Feature: O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy

Clemson Football Game Program Feature: O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy

Sept. 17, 2009

On Saturday, Clemson and Boston College will play for the second-annual O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy. It is awarded by the Boston College Gridiron Club.

The trophy honors the rich football tradition of both schools and the legacy of a great player from both programs who faced each other in the first meeting between the schools in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. It depicts a player from the 1940s wearing a leather helmet. It was chosen as the trophy since both Boston College’s Charlie O’Rourke and Clemson’s Banks McFadden played during the leather-helmet era.

The Clemson vs. Boston College series has developed into one of the budding rivalries in the ACC. The all-time series between the two schools is tied 8-8-2.

The teams also have a unique history in that they faced each other in both schools’ first bowl appearance in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. In addition to playing each other in their respective home venues, the teams have also faced off in other historic venues such as Fenway Park (three games) and Braves Field (four games).

The Boston College Gridiron Club initiated this trophy to honor the relationship between Clemson and Boston College that goes back almost 70 years. The trophy was started to recognize the efforts of Tiger fans welcoming Boston College into the ACC.

“Since we entered the ACC, the relationship with Clemson has been the best we’ve experienced in 30 years of college football,” said Paul Criscione, President of the Boston College Gridiron Club. “They are friendly, welcoming, kind, and hospitable. The hospitality down there hooked us and the games have been outstanding.”

In addition to the trophy, the game MVP is also awarded a replica leather helmet that his team would have worn in the 1940s. In 2008, C.J. Spiller was named MVP after totaling 242 all-purpose yards. Spiller had six receptions for 105 yards, a school record for a running back, and added 55 rushing yards.

McFadden was regarded as the greatest all-around Clemson athlete of the 20th century. He was an All-American in both football and basketball, one of only eight student-athletes in the history of Division I college athletics to gain that status in both sports.

As the starting quarterback in 1939, he led the Tigers to a 9-1 record and their first top-20 ranking in school history, as Clemson finished the season #12 in the final AP poll.

In the spring of 1939, he had led Clemson to the Southern Conference basketball championship. For his performances with both teams, McFadden was named AP National Athlete-of-the-Year in 1939. McFadden also became Clemson’s first inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.

McFadden was the #4 overall pick of the 1940 NFL draft by the Brooklyn Dodgers. After one year in the NFL and a stint in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he returned to Clemson and became a fixture.

McFadden was an assistant coach under Frank Howard in 1941 and then again from 1946-69. He also served as the head basketball coach from 1946-56. From the 1947-48 season to the 1951-52 season, McFadden became the first coach in college basketball history to improve his conference wins in five consecutive seasons. After stepping down as basketball coach, McFadden became the head track coach (1957-60).

Upon his retirement from college athletics, McFadden served as Clemson’s director of intramurals for 15 years. In all, McFadden spent 49 years either playing or working for Clemson University. McFadden passed away on June 4, 2005 at the age of 88.

O’Rourke, also known as “Chuckin’ Charlie,” was a quarterback who had a 26-3-2 record in three years for the Eagles. The loss to Clemson in the Cotton Bowl was his last in an Eagle uniform, as he led Boston College to an undefeated season and the national title in 1940. Like McFadden, O’Rourke was the first Boston College player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

O’Rourke later went on to play quarterback and defensive back for the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Dons, and Baltimore Colts. After two years as an NFL coach, he coached at Massachusetts from 1952-59. He later served as commissioner of the Pop Warner League, a national organization of junior football teams. O’Rourke passed away on April 14, 2000 at the age of 82.

Both men would be proud of the performance of their respective schools since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005. Each of the four meetings has been decided by a touchdown or less and two games have been decided in overtime. All four meetings have had a significant impact on the Atlantic Division Championship as well.

Trey McCurry, a second-year graduate student from Honea Path, SC, is a graduate assistant in the Clemson Sports Information Office.