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Clemson-Georgia Tech Series

Oct. 31, 2000

By Mandie ParrishClemson Sports InformationThe Georgia Tech Game Program – October 28, 2000

Clemson and Georgia Tech. When someone brings up the series between these two teams what comes to mind? Maybe a series in which the past four games have been decided by only three points. Or maybe one would recall that the Tigers and Yellow Jackets are very old rivals and their first game was played in 1898 in which Clemson came away with a 23-0 win. Or perhaps the fact comes to mind is that up until Sept 28, 1974, all the previous 36 match-ups between these two teams were played in Atlanta. Do apples, the “Tiger” nickname, beer and fake plays come to mind?

Well, they should. Let me explain, The Tigers’ second-ever match-up with the Jackets was at the end of the 1899 season on Thanksgiving Day. Clemson’s A.S. Shealy, a right halfback, played such a great game, it lead one of the sports writers to dub him “The Clemson Tiger.” Some think this mention is what earned the Tigers their famous nickname.

One of the best fake plays also occurred in that Thanksgiving Day game. In a deceptive move, W.C. Forsythe tucked his headgear under one arm and made a mad dash for the end zone, while the whole Tech team pursued him. This allowed M.N. Hunter to run 40 yards alone down the sidelines to score, virtually untouched. Clemson went on to win the game easily, 41-5.

The next meeting between the teams in 1902 proved to be even more hay-wire and explains why beer should come to mind in this series. In fact, it made the Associated Press features wires coast to coast – a pretty good feat for those days.

John Heisman was the Clemson coach and Clemson had already claimed the previous two games versus the Yellow Jackets. The Tigers heard that Tech was out for them this game and would spare nothing to get revenge. So Heisman decided to have a bit of fun on his own. He gathered some willing Clemson cadets to pose as the Tiger football team and sent them to Atlanta to enjoy themselves. Much to the surprise of the Tech fans who saw this Clemson team, these football players were very friendly for it to be just one day before the big contest.

The cadets followed Heisman’s instructions to “be sure and enjoy yourself so the Tech team can’t help hearing about it.” Right after checking in, the cadets started hitting the Atlanta nightspots. Tech fans began buying the “Clemson team” beer and supplying them with dancing partners. Tech supporters then started making bets on the Jackets, thinking the game would be a wash with all the players so intoxicated. Even the Georgia Tech officials saw the Clemson students partying, so word got back that the Jackets could be confident of an easy victory.

The Yellow Jackets were in for a surprise when the real Clemson football team travelled into town on game day (they had stayed in Lula, GA, a few miles outside of Atlanta). Clemson had no problem defeating the Jackets 44-5.

By now, you are wondering what apples could have to do with football. For that, we have to bring the University of Georgia into the mix. Clemson had just defeated the Bulldogs in the 1903 season 29-0.

Georgia decided to make a little good come out of this defeat with a “friendly” wager. The Georgia Tech and Georgia rivalry is a fierce one. So Georgia decided to place an incentive with Clemson to win with a bigger margin over Tech. Georgia offered Clemson a bushel of apples for every point that Clemson scored above the 29 that Clemson had beaten Georgia.

The Tigers answered the bet with 450 yards of offense on 35 carries, while Georgia Tech rushed for only 18 yards on 25 carries. The outcome was 73-0 and 44 bushels of wine sap apples for Clemson team. Unfortunately the 1903 campaign was Heisman’s last for Clemson. Legend says that the Yellow Jacket fans were tired of losing to Clemson. They were going to try to find a way to get Heisman to coach at Georgia Tech.

Tech officials offered Heisman $50 more than he was making at Clemson, $2,250 per year plus 30 percent of net gate receipts to coach its athletic teams. On Nov. 26, 1903, one day after the deadline for the offer had expired, Heisman called Georgia Tech’s president, Lyman Hall to accept the offer. (Also in the deciding factor was a young widow from Atlanta that Heisman had met and later married.) Tech supporters were thrilled and hung a banner across Atlanta’s Piedmont Park proclaiming, “Tech gets Heisman for 1904.” Twenty-twenty hindsight, Clemson should have shelled out the extra money to keep Heisman. The Rambling Wreck tied Clemson 11-11 in 1904 in a huge moral victory for Tech and the Yellow Jackets continued to win the next three games in the series. In addition, in 1908, they started a string of 15 consecutive wins that lasted until a narrow 14-13 Clemson win in 1936.

The more recent history of the series has been just as competitive. Tech has won the last three meetings, including last year’s meeting in Atlanta by a score of 45-42. Over the last 10 meetings, the series is split at five games apiece. In contests at Clemson, the Tigers own the advantage 7-3. But since Tech did not play at Clemson until the 1974 season, the record for games in which Georgia Tech has been the home team is more lopsided with the Jackets holding a 39-11-2 mark against the Tigers.

This year’s match-up proves to be an exciting one between these two ACC schools. Trick plays and a close game will probably be in the works, just don’t expect apples or beer to play into the contestŠ unless, of course, you enjoyed them at your tailgate before the game.