Note: The following appears in the September issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
I have always been a history buff. I guess it was instilled into me by my father, who for a while taught American history on the college level. I have always believed that one should know his or her history. The names, places and dates of our past should be information that is passed along from generation to generation.
I don’t need to tell you that the history of Clemson football is long and storied, but I do believe that without a reminder every now and then, we forget the glorious past. So with that in mind, let’s take a run down memory lane.
The month of October in Clemson football annals is full of important dates, starting with Oct. 31, 1896. That Halloween was the day of the first football game in Clemson history. Many of the Tigers who stepped on the field that day against Furman had never seen a full-sized football field.
Clemson had begun practice just 25 days earlier on a field in front of campus that was 50’ x 200’. It did not turn out to be that big of a deal, as Clemson prevailed 14-6, with Charlie Gentry scoring the first touchdown in Tiger history.
On Oct. 20, 1898, Clemson played its first home game in school history. The Tigers took on Bingham, which historians believe was from the state of Alabama. Clemson had its way at home, coasting to a 55-0 victory. W.C. Forsythe kicked all 11 extra points for Clemson. Back in those days, a touchdown counted for only four points.
You may know that IPTAY was founded on Aug. 20, 1934, but did you know the meeting that got the ball rolling happened on Oct. 16, 1931? Clemson had just suffered a surprising 6-0 loss to The Citadel in a game played in Florence, S.C. After the game, head coach Jess Neely, captain Frank Jervey and a few others met in a car outside of the stadium to discuss ways to help the football program. It took the momentum from the conversation almost three years to come to fruition, but an athletic fundraising arm (IPTAY) for Clemson was finally realized.
In the more modern days of Clemson football, Oct. 31, 1981 should stick out in your mind. That was the day Clemson walloped Wake Forest in Death Valley 82-24. The Tigers set 21 school, stadium and conference records in the contest.
Oct. 13, 2008 is a day that head coach Dabo Swinney will never forget. That was the day that then athletic director Terry Don Phillips walked into the football staff meeting room to let the football assistant coaches know that Tommy Bowden had resigned and Swinney was now the head coach. Five days later, he coached his first game as head coach.
On Oct. 15, 2011, Sammy Watkins put on one of the greatest performances by a Tiger. In a 56-45 victory at Maryland, Watkins had 345 all-purpose yards, scoring three touchdowns. He had two receiving touchdowns and had an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, as Clemson overcame an 18-point deficit.
Some of Swinney’s greatest victories have come during the last two Octobers. On Oct. 3, 2015, there was the 24-22 victory over Notre Dame in a torrential downpour. Three weeks later on Oct. 24, Clemson traveled to Miami (Fla.) and posted the largest margin of victory ever over an ACC opponent with a 58-0 beatdown of the Hurricanes.
Finally, just last season on Oct. 1, 2016, a Marcus Edmond tackle that forced James Quick out of bounds at the Clemson three yard line saved the day as the Tigers prevailed over Louisville 42-36.
What memories will come the rest of this football season are yet to be known, but dusting off the old memories and recordbooks is something we should all do more often.
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