American Football Wiki
Clemson Tigers
Clemson Tigers NCAA-ACC-Clemson Tigers helmet
First season 1896
Athletic director Graham Neff
Head coach Dabo Swinney
15th year, 170–40 (.810)
Home stadium Clemson Memorial Stadium
Field Frank Howard Field
Year built 1942
Stadium capacity 82,000
Stadium surface Natural Grass
Location Clemson, South Carolina
League NCAA Division I (FBS)
Conference Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), 1953-present
Division ACC Atlantic Division
Past conferences Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) (1896-1921)
Southern Conference (1921-1953)
All-time history
Clemson Tigers Historical Teams
1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
All-time record 798–472–45 (.624)
Postseason bowl record 27–23 (.540)
Playoff appearances 6
Playoff record (6-4)
Claimed national titles 3 (1981, 2016, 2018)
Conference titles 26 (4 SIAA, 2 Southern, 20 ACC)
Division titles 8 (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015-2019)
Heisman winners 0
Consensus All-Americans Template:American college football All-Americans
Current uniform
NCAA-ACC-Clemson Tigers football uniforms
Colors Regalia, Orange, and White


Fight song Tiger Rag (Fight Song)
Mascot The Tiger
Marching band Clemson Tiger Band
Outfitter Nike
Rivals South Carolina Gamecocks (rivalry)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (rivalry)
Florida State Seminoles (rivalry)
Georgia Bulldogs (rivalry)
North Carolina State Wolfpack State (rivalry)
Boston College Eagles (rivalry)
Auburn Tigers (rivalry)
Alabama Crimson Tide (rivalry)

The Clemson Tigers football team represents Clemson University located in Clemson, South Carolina. The Tigers are a member of the NCAA FBS Atlantic Coast Conference and play their home games at Clemson Memorial Stadium in Clemson. The Tigers are currently coached by Dabo Swinney.

Formed in 1896, the program has over 700 wins and has achieved a consensus Division I Football National Championship, including #1 rankings in two National Football Championship Title games and was a College Football Playoff National Championship Finalist in 2016. Clemson has had 6 undefeated seasons including 3 perfect seasons, 21 conference championships, 4 divisional titles since 2005, and has produced over 100 All-Americans, 17 Academic All-Americans, and over 200 NFL players.[1][2] Clemson has had six members inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, including former players Banks McFadden, Terry Kinard, Jeff Davis, and former coaches John Heisman, Jess Neely, and Frank Howard.

With 21 total conference titles, Clemson is one of the founding members of the ACC, and holds 15 ACC titles, the most of any charter member, and holds the most combined conference football titles of any Atlantic Coast Conference school. The Tigers' most recent ACC championship came in 2015 with a 13-0 regular season and a 45-37 win over #10 UNC.

Among its six undefeated regular seasons, Clemson was crowned poll-era National Champions and finished with its third perfect season with a win over Nebraska in the 48th Orange Bowl, and was the National Championship Finalist Runner-up with a 14-1 record in 2015. The Tigers have 39 bowl appearances, 17 of which are among the New Years Six Bowls, including 2 during the BCS era. Clemson has finished in the Final Top 25 rankings 31 times in the modern era, and finished in either the AP or Coaches Polls a combined 51 times since 1939.

The Tigers play their home games in Memorial Stadium on the university's Clemson, South Carolina campus. The stadium is also known as "Death Valley" after a Presbyterian College head coach gave it the moniker in 1948 due to the many defeats his teams suffered there. Currently, it is the 16th largest stadium in college football.

Clemson's streak of five consecutive 10 win seasons ranks 2nd in active streaks behind the Alabama Crimson Tide.[3] Clemson currently has eleven straight seasons with a bowl game appearance.



Season Coach Record
2024 Dabo Swinney
2023 Dabo Swinney 9-4
2022 Dabo Swinney 11-3
2021 Dabo Swinney 10-3
2020 Dabo Swinney 10-2


Season Coach Record
2019 Dabo Swinney 14-1
2018 Dabo Swinney 15-0
2017 Dabo Swinney 12-1
2016 Dabo Swinney 13-1
2015 Dabo Swinney 14-1
2014 Dabo Swinney 10-3
2013 Dabo Swinney 11-2
2012 Dabo Swinney 11-2
2011 Dabo Swinney 10-4
2010 Dabo Swinney 6-7


Season Coach Record
2009 Dabo Swinney 9-5
2008 Tommy Bowden; Dabo Swinney 7-6
2007 Tommy Bowden 9-4
2006 Tommy Bowden 8-5
2005 Tommy Bowden 8-4
2004 Tommy Bowden 6-5
2003 Tommy Bowden 9-4
2002 Tommy Bowden 7-6
2001 Tommy Bowden 7-5
2000 Tommy Bowden 9-3


Season Coach Record
1999 Tommy Bowden 6-6
1998 Tommy West 3-8
1997 Tommy West
1996 Tommy West
1995 Tommy West
1994 Tommy West
1993 Ken Hatfield; Tommy West
1992 Ken Hatfield
1991 Ken Hatfield
1990 Ken Hatfield 10-2


Season Coach Record

History []

Early history (1896–1899)[]

Walter Merritt Riggs can be characterized as the "Father of Clemson Football," as he brought the game with him from Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University). The fact that Auburn and Clemson share the same mascot is no accident. Riggs allowed his players to pick the team mascot and, although he may have influenced their decision, the players chose Tigers because Princeton University had just won the national championship. Riggs helped organize and coach the infant Tiger team in 1896. With little money to spend on uniforms, Riggs brought some of Auburn's old practice uniforms with him, which happened to have orange and navy jerseys.[4] Because the jerseys had gone through a few washboard scrubbings, they were quite faded, the navy worse than the orange. So Riggs made the school’s predominant color orange and the faded condition of the navy became the purplish color, officially known today as Regalia.[4] The team played as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the first southern athletics conference.

File:1896 Clemson Tigers football team.jpg

The 1896 Clemson Tigers team.

When the Tigers traveled to Greenville on Halloween to play Furman in their very first match, only Coach Riggs and backfield player Frank Thompkins had ever seen a football game played. Today in Clemson, the soccer field is named Historic Riggs field after Walter Riggs. Riggs took the team to a 2–1 record in the inaugural year. He then stepped aside at the urging of the cadets, who felt that he should concentrate on his scholastic duties rather than coach the team for free.

William M. Williams coached the Tigers in 1897, guiding them to a 2–2 record. The team  beat South Carolina for the first time and was state champion.[5] In 1898, John Penton led the Tigers to a 3–1 record.

In 1899, when the Clemson Athletic Association could not afford a coaching salary, Riggs again took over the reins, one of only two Clemson football coaches to return to the position after stepping down. The 1899 squad went 4–2. Riggs' overall record of 6–3 gives him a .667 winning percentage.

After decade as a Mechanical Engineering professor, he was named acting president of Clemson Agricultural College in 1910, being confirmed by the Board of Trustees as permanent president on March 7, 1911. He served until his untimely death on January 22, 1924 while on a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with officials of other land grant institutions.

John Heisman era (1900–1903)[]

  Riggs hired John Heisman to coach Clemson. Heisman stayed only four years at Clemson, where he compiled a record of 19–3–2, an .833 percentage, the best in Clemson football history.[6] In four seasons, he had three SIAA titles.

In his first season of 1900, he coached the Tigers to their first undefeated season (6–0),[3] and first conference championship, outscoring their opponents 222–10 – the 64–0 win over Davidson on opening day was then the largest score ever made in the South.[7] The season had various other "firsts", including the school's first defeat of the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The only close game was with the South Atlantic school VPI

File:Vet Sitton Clemson.jpg

Carl Sitton

The 1902 team again won the SIAA.  This was the first season with both Hope Sadler and Carl Sitton at ends. One writer recalls, "Sitton and Hope Sadler were the finest ends that Clemson ever had perhaps."[8]

The only loss on the year was the first to rival South Carolina since 1896. "The Carolina fans that week were carrying around a poster with the image of a tiger with a gamecock standing on top of it, holding the tiger’s tail as if he was steering the tiger by the tail," Jay McCormick said.  "Naturally, the Clemson guys didn’t take too kindly to that, and on Wednesday and again on Thursday, there were sporadic fistfights involving brass knuckles and other objects and so forth, some of which resulted, according to the newspapers, in blood being spilled and persons having to seek medical assistance.  After the game on Thursday, the Clemson guys frankly told the Carolina students that if you bring this poster, which is insulting to us, to the big parade on Friday, you’re going to be in trouble. And naturally, of course, the Carolina students brought the poster to the parade. If you give someone an ultimatum and they’re your rival, they’re going to do exactly what you told them not to do."[9]

As expected, another brawl broke out before both sides agreed to mutually burn the poster in an effort to defuse tensions. The immediate aftermath resulted in the stoppage of the rivalry until 1909.[10][11]

The 1903 team may have been Heisman's best at Clemson. Following a 73–0 defeat of Georgia Tech in 1903, the Yellow Jackets hired Heisman as their first full-time football coach.  Fullback Jock Hanvey rushed for 104 yards in the first half.[12] The account in the Atlanta Constitution read "Hanvey, the Clemson full back, outclassed them all. Time and time again he was sent through the line for gains of 10, 15 and 20 yards, and his tackles were spectacular."[13]

After the 1903 season, Clemson tied 11–11 in a game billed as the "SIAA Championship Game." Cumberland rushed out to an early 11 to 0 lead, but Clemson came back to tie. On the second half kickoff, Clemson quarterback John Maxwell raced 100 yards for a touchdown. Clemson missed the try. Later, Cumberland fumbled a punt and Clemson recovered.  Cumberland expected a trick play when Fritz Furtick simply ran up the middle and scored.[14]

Post-Heisman era (1904–1926)[]

  After Heisman left Clemson to become the head coach at Georgia Tech, Shack Shealy, an end for the Tigers in the 1890s, coached the 1904 team to a  3–3–1 record - the only Clemson graduate ever to serve as head coach of his alma mater.

File:Fritz Furtick (Clemson College Annual 1907).png

Fritz Furtick

Eddie Cochems, a future innovator of the former pass, had just lost out to Phil King for the Wisconsin job, when he accepted to coach Clemson's 1905 team, which lost to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, but shut out Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn, featured stars left over from Heisman like Furtick and Puss Derrick.

Bob Williams, who beat Heisman in 1902, came to Clemson in 1906, and also coached the 1909 and 19131915 teams. The Tigers went undefeated with a 4–0–3 record in 1906, with wins over Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, and the John Heisman-coached Georgia Tech team. Clemson's first forward pass took place on during the game with Tech in Atlanta. Left End Powell Lykes, dropped back to kick, but lobbed a 30-yard pass to George Warren instead. Clemson won, 10–0. The 1909 USC-Clemson was the first game broadcast in the state, by the United Wireless Telegraph Company.[15] William Schilletter starred in 1913 and 1914, and was the son of Augustus "Shorty" Schilletter, a German immigrant in charge of the Clemson College dining hall.[16]

Frank Shaughnessy led the 1907 team to a. 4–4 record. Captain Mac McLaurin and R. T. Gaston starred at either tackle position. Vanderbilt legend Stein Stone posted just a 1–6 record in 1908. Captain Sticker Coles was All-Southern. Frank Dobson posted 11–12–1 overall record from 19101912. Wayne Hart had a 3–6 record in 1916.

Washington & Lee's Edward Donahue coached the Tigers to 21–12–3 record over three seasons, from 19171920. Stumpy Banks scored five touchdowns against Furman in 1917 for a school record.[17][18] Yen Lightsey starred in 1919 and 1920. Doc Stewart coached the Tigers through the transition from the SIAA to the Southern Conference, with a 6–10–2 record from 19211922. Bud Saunders led the Tigers to a 10–22–1 record from 19231926.

Josh Cody era (1927–1930)[]

Josh Cody coached the Tigers from 1927 to 1930, posting a 29–11–1 record. The Tigers were undefeated at home (13–0–1) and against South Carolina (3–0) during Cody's tenure.  In 1927 Cody gave Red Sanders his first coaching job as backfield coach.[19][20]  O. K. Pressley made third-team All-American in 1928. “A better center than Captain O.K. Pressley of Clemson is hard to find,” remarked former South Carolina head coach Billy Laval.[21]

In May 1929, when rumors were swirling that he might leave to coach a bigger-name program, the students, faculty, and staff took up a collection to buy him a brand new black Buick automobile. Raymond Johnson wrote upon Cody's death: "Josh Cody wanted to be Vanderbilt's coach so bad that he gave up the head man's job at Clemson College after four successful seasons."[19]

Jess Neely era (1931–1939)[]

In 1931, Jess Neely (another McGugin product, and a former head coach at Rhodes and assistant at Alabama) became Clemson's head football coach. During his tenure, Neely led the Tigers to a 43-35-7 record. His final season at Clemson was the turning point in the Tigers' program. His team went 9–1 during that season, finishing second to Duke in the Southern Conference. The Tigers also received their first bowl invitation and bowl victory that year, defeating nationally ranked Boston College 6–3 in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic. The 1939 Tigers finished with a #12 ranking in the final AP poll. Clemson also had their first Associated Press All-American that year in Banks McFadden. Jess Neely, along with then athletic director Rupert Fike, founded the IPTAY Scholarship Fund, which supports the Clemson Athletic Department.

Frank Howard era (1940–1969)[]

After Jess Neely left to become the head coach at Rice, Frank Howard (an assistant coach under Neely) was named head coach.  Known for his colorful persona, and penchant for imaginative language with both probable, and improbable stories, in his 30 years at Clemson, Howard compiled a 165–118–12 record, a 3–3 bowl record, won two Southern Conference championships, and six ACC championships. Seven of Howard's teams finished the year ranked in at least one final poll.  During his stay at Clemson, Howard also oversaw the athletic department, ticket sales, and was an assistant coach for the baseball team.  He also incorporated the Single Wing, T-formation, and I-formation offenses at different points during his coaching career at Clemson. Clemson had two undefeated season under Howard, one in 1948 (11–0), and one in 1950 (9–0–1).

As a line tutor and coach, Howard was part of Clemson's successful 1939 season under Neely, achieving an 8-1 record and a bid to the 1940 Cotton Bowl in Dallas to play undefeated Boston College. When Neely left Clemson in 1940, the Clemson Athletic Council met to name a successor and council member Prof. Sam Rhodes suggested Howard's name. Howard, standing in the back of the room, said "I second the nomination." He got the job, becoming Clemson's seventeenth head football coach and never left. He signed a one-year contract that he promptly lost, and he never had another in thirty years.

Although Clemson was still a small military college until 1957, under Frank Howard's command, the Tigers remained nationally-recognized contenders throughout the 1950's. In the sterling 1948 season, the team won a Southern Conference championship (Howard's first of eight). The Tiger's also won their second bowl game, a 1948 Gator Bowl win over Missouri, and finished eleventh in the national rankings.  For the rest of his life, Howard credited the 1948 team with saving his job.

Howard nearly repeated the 1948 success in 1950 when the Tigers were ranked tenth by the Associated Press with a 9-0-1 season and a 15-14 win over Miami (Florida) in Clemson's first Orange Bowl win.  Under Howard's guidance, the Tigers were thus, champions on their first three bowl ventures.

In January 1952, after a 7-2 regular season campaign, the Tiger's were invited back to the Gator Bowl, and by being conference champions once again in 1956, Clemson played in the 1957 Orange Bowl.  In their second Gator Bowl trip, Miami downed Clemson 14–0; Colorado led Clemson 20–0, then trailed 21–20, in a comeback game, before finally defeating the Tigers 27–21 in Clemson's second Orange Bowl appearance.  Two season's later, after an 8-3 season, the Tigers played in the 1959 Sugar Bowl and with their tough defense, held the #1-ranked LSU Tigers to a standstill before losing 7–0, leading to an LSU National Championship.[22]

The invitation to play in the first Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston in December 1959 was the eighth bowl that Howard had been a part of either as a player, assistant coach or head coach. It was the seventh bowl trip for a Clemson team and the sixth in 12 years. Howard said that Clemson's 23–7 triumph over seventh ranked TCU in the Bluebonnet Bowl was the best performance he had ever witnessed by a Clemson team. Clemson was the first school to play in two bowls in the same calendar year.

A Single Wing expert for 22 seasons (including nine as a line coach), Howard changed to the T-formation and its many variations in 1953. Still another major change in the offense was installed in 1965 with the "I" and pro-type set. In his 13 seasons as head coach using the single wing, Clemson won 69, lost 47 and tied 7. In 12 years of "T" teams, the Tigers won 71, lost 47 and tied 4. While using the "I" in his last five years of coaching, Clemson recorded a 25–24–1 record.

Howard was named Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year in 1948. In 1959 he was named Atlantic Coast Conference Coach-of-the-Year and was accorded the honor again in 1966.  As the style of football evolved in the 1960s, Howard's ground game became outdated, and Clemson's gridiron fortunes declined. The Tigers last winning season under Howard came in 1967.  On December 10, 1969, he stepped down as the fifth winningest coach in the nation, with 165 victories, 96 of them in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Howard also managed the athletic department during his tenure, and continued on as athletic director until February 4, 1971, when he was named assistant to the vice president of the university.  On June 30, 1974, he retired from the university payroll, but continued to come into his office daily until failing health slowed him down, serving as Clemson's ambassador until his death in 1996.[23]

The tradition of rubbing "Howard's Rock" prior to running down the hill before home games began during Coach Howard's tenure.[24] The playing field at Clemson Memorial Stadium was named "Frank Howard Field" in 1974 following his retirement to honor his many years of service for the university. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Clemson Hall of Fame, the Clemson Ring of Honor, the Helms Athletic Hall of Fame, the State of Alabama Hall of Fame, National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor, and the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame.

Hootie Ingram era (1970–1972)[]

Clemson struggled during the years following Frank Howard's retirement. His successor, Hootie Ingram, only compiled a 12–21 record. During his tenure, the tradition of running down the hill was stopped from 1970 to the end of the 1972 season, when the team decided it wanted to come down the hill for the final home game against South Carolina. The traditional "tiger paw" logo, which was designed by John Antonio of Henderson Advertising, was introduced in 1970 by Ingram and Clemson President R.C. Edwards.[25]

Red Parker era (1973–1976)[]

After a successful run as head coach of The Citadel from 1966–72, Jimmy "Red" Parker coached the Tigers from 1973 to 1976, compiling a 17-25-2 record.[26] Clemson had a 7-4 season under Parker in 1974, with Parker being named ACC Coach of the Year.  The Tigers went 2-9 in 1975, and 3-6-2 in 1976.  Red Parker was cut loose by the Board of Trustees at the end of the Bicentennial season. Athletic Director Bill McClellan got the task of informing Parker he was gone when Parker refused to fire his assistants.  Though Parker is largely credited with building and recruiting a foundation that would ultimately set the stage for much of Clemson's success in the following seasons.[27]

Charlie Pell era (1977–1978)[]

Utilizing some of the talent enrolled during the Parker seasons, Charlie Pell coached the Tigers for two seasons, winning the ACC Coach of the Year award twice and leading the Tigers to the 1978 ACC Championship en route to an 18-4-1 record.

Dual-threat quarterback Steve Fuller and the running back tandem of Lester Brown and Marvin Sims spearheaded a dynamic rushing attack that helped the Tigers win the ACC. The only loss came in Week 2 against SEC power Georgia, and, after a Gator Bowl win over No. 20 Ohio State, Clemson posted its second-best final AP poll finish in school history with a No. 6 ranking.

In both seasons, Clemson earned berths to the Gator Bowl, although Pell left before the latter game.  Pell became involved in NCAA rules and recruiting violations that came to light under the tenure of his successor, Danny Ford.  Charlie Pell would leave after 1978 to become head coach at Florida, where his coaching career would end in 1984 following more NCAA rules violations.

Danny Ford era (1978–1989)[]

Danny Ford was promoted from offensive line coach to head coach in 1978, after Charlie Pell left for the University of Florida.  He won his first game, the 1978 Gator Bowl, with a 17–15 victory over Ohio State and legendary coach Woody Hayes, who punched LB Charlie Bauman in the throat after making the game-clinching interception. In his third season, Ford guided Clemson to the summit of college football by winning the National Championship, and recording the program's fifth undefeated season. The Tigers, who were unranked in the preseason, downed three top-10 teams (Georgia, North Carolina and Nebraska) during the course of the 12-0 season that concluded with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. Ford, named National Coach-of-the-Year in 1981, holds the record as the youngest coach (33 years old) to win a national championship on the gridiron.[28]

File:1981 Clemson Tigers football team meets Ronald Reagan.jpg

1981 Clemson Tigers visit the Oval Office in January 1982.

The 1981 college football season was one of the craziest and most unpredictable in the history of the sport. It seemed nobody wanted to win the national championship. At several points in the season, six different teams were ranked #1 by the Associated Press.  Most of them were beaten just as quickly as they earned the top spot.[29] The Tigers slow rise to #1 quickly gained momentum with an early season 13-3 upset victory over defending national champion Georgia. The Clemson defense contained Georgia's great tailback Herschel Walker and kept him out of the end zone. Week after week, Clemson was getting better. Offensively the team was led by junior quarterback Homer Jordan, who was a duel threat as a runner and passer. It was a run-oriented offense featuring a fine tandem of tailbacks in Cliff Austin and Chuck McSwain. When they needed a big play, Jordan often threw deep to receiver Perry Tuttle, who later became a first round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills. But the true strength of the Clemson team was its defense. The Tigers had three All Americans including safety Terry Kinard, linebacker Jeff Davis and defensive end Jeff Bryant. All three went on to solid pro careers. But the most famous member of the Clemson defense was a large freshman defensive tackle named William Perry. Perry would later gain fame for his nickname "The Refrigerator" and became a football folk hero with the Chicago Bears as a lovable overweight defensive lineman who sometimes scored touchdowns while lining up at fullback.[30]

After finishing the regular season with a perfect 11-0 record, Clemson was invited to the Orange Bowl to play Big 8 champion Nebraska. To mark its first trip to the Orange Bowl in over 30 years, Clemson wore all orange uniforms for the first time.  The Tigers took a quick 3-0 lead in the first quarter behind a Donald Igwebuike 41-yard field goal.   But Nebraska came back with some trickery when I-back Mike Rozier threw a 25-yard option pass to Anthony Steels for a touchdown to take the lead 7-3.  Leading 13-7 in the third quarter, Clemson took control for good when Homer Jordan threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Perry Tuttle, giving the Tigers a commanding 19-7 lead.  Clemson held on to win 22-15 bringing home a consensus national championship.   At 34-years-old, Danny Ford became the youngest coach to lead his team to a national title.[31]

Ranked #10 before the 1982 season began, with six players entering the NFL Draft, including First Round picks DE Jeff Bryant and WR Perry Tuttle, along with Hollis Hall, Center Tony Berryhill, Brian Clark, and linebacker and former team captain Jeff Davis, there were obvious questions as to how well the team would perform in 1982 in the aftermath of a championship season.[32]  The Tigers opened the season on the road playing border rival and SEC champion Georgia, losing this time in another close game by 6 points in front of a crowd of over 82,000.  The following weekend, Clemson hosted Boston College, in another fourth quarter game that resulted in a 17-17 tie.  Like the previous season, the Tigers gradually improved as the season progressed.  In November, Clemson's defense was resilient enough to hold of #18 Maryland and #18 North Carolina.  Clemson went on to run the table the rest of the season with nine straight wins, and finish with the regular season with a record of 9-1-1.[33]

After the #8 Tigers received a bid to the Cotton Bowl with only one loss on the season, the senior class voted to decline the invitation.  On November 21, 1982, the football program was placed on probation for a 2-year period to include the 1983 and 1984 seasons for recruiting violations that began during the Charlie Pell era.  Pell and some of his coaching staff were also sanctioned again in 1984 for similar recruiting practices at the University of Florida. Since the violations involved players who never enrolled, and were recruits also being courted by other programs, no games were subject to forfeit. As a result, the football program was barred from participating in bowl games and barred from appearing on live television. Also, the number of scholarships that the university could allocate to football players was restricted to 20 (from the normal allotment of 30). The Atlantic Coast Conference imposed a third year of conference penalty.[34][35]

The 1983 team, like the previous season, had a loss and a tie early in the season, this time with a 16-16 tie with rival #11 Georgia and a loss at Boston College.  The team finished the rest of the season without a loss and going unbeaten in conference play, while finishing with another 9-1-1 season and #10, and #11 rankings.  The reduction of scholarships could be felt, in the next two seasons as Clemson still remained motivated, posting a winning 7-4 season in 1984, and an even 6-6 campaign in 1985.  Between 1987 and 1990, Clemson posted four consecutive 10 win seasons and won three straight ACC titles, including a 35-10 victory over Penn State and a 13-6 defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners in the Florida Citrus Bowl.  At that time, no team in Clemson history started higher in the AP poll than the 1988 team beginning the year as the No. 4-ranked team in the nation and a preseason favorite to win the national title.  After an early upset by #10 FSU, the Tigers finished with a #9 final ranking following their bowl win over Oklahoma.  The 1988 team played one of the school’s toughest schedules, beating three ranked opponents and losing to two others.  Rodney Williams paced the passing attack while Terry Allen rushed for 1,192 yards and 10 touchdowns for the ACC champions.  In an age of offense, the '88 team was fourth in the nation in scoring defense.  In 1989, Clemson registered a 10-2 season and top-12 national ranking for the fourth straight season, and ended his career at Clemson with a 27–7 win over West Virginia (and All-America quarterback Major Harris) in the 1989 Gator Bowl.[36]  In January 1990, Clemson once again found their football program accused of recruiting violations, but not significant enough to receive any post-season or television bans.[37]  This chain of events, in addition to political conflicts between the academic and athletic departments, contributed, in part, to the forced resignation of popular head coach Danny Ford, who was later cleared in the final NCAA report.[38][39][40]

While at Clemson, Ford also coached wins over a number of coaches later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, including Joe Paterno, Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer, Bobby Bowden, Vince Dooley, and Woody Hayes.  After a few years away from coaching, Ford was hired by Arkansas in 1992, where he would spend five seasons guiding the Razorbacks.

Coach Ford compiled a 96–29–4 (.760) record at Clemson, 5 ACC Championships, and a 6–2 bowl record.  He is second on the school's wins list, behind only Frank Howard.  Ford was the third winningest coach in the country on a percentage basis after the 1989 season.  Ford also coached 21 All-Americans and 41 players who went on to play in the NFL, during his 11 seasons at Clemson.

Ken Hatfield era (1990–1993)[]

Ken Hatfield, former coach at Air Force and Arkansas, took over as head coach at Clemson in late 1989. He had a 32–13–1 record with the Tigers and led them to three bowl games.

Hatfield worked to clean up the program's image in the wake of the Ford-era sanctions.[41]  However, in the wake of Ford's success, Hatfield and many in the Clemson fanbase did not see eye-to-eye.  A common saying among Tiger fans during this time was "Howard built it. Ford filled it. Hatfield killed it." This sentiment followed Clemson's first losing season (1992) since 1976.

Largely due to this discontent, school officials refused to grant him a one-year extension on his contract after the 1993 season, even though the Tigers had rebounded from 5–6 in 1992 to an 8–3 record that year and were invited to the Peach Bowl. Expressing "much disappointment" in what he saw as a lack of support by Clemson fans and several university officials, Hatfield resigned at the end of the regular season.[42]  He was later hired at Rice.

The purple home jerseys used by Clemson in special games made their debut during the 1991 ACC championship season, with the Tigers wearing them in the regular season against NC State and in the Citrus Bowl vs. California.

Tommy West era (1993–1998)[]

Tommy West replaced Ken Hatfield at the end of the 1993 season, coaching the Tigers to a 14-13 victory in the 1993 Peach Bowl against Kentucky. West had a 31–28 record during his five seasons at Clemson and led the Tigers to three bowl games but no ACC championships. West was fired after a dismal 1998 campaign which saw Clemson go 3-8 and finish last in the ACC.  West went on to be the head coach at Memphis.

Tommy Bowden era (1999–2008)[]

After Tommy West's dismissal following the 1998 season, Clemson hired Tommy Bowden, son of Bobby Bowden and coach at Tulane. Bowden led the Tigers to a 6–6 record and a Peach Bowl bid in 1999, with the team that navigated its way through a schedule that included MAC champions and undefeated Marshall, Big East champion and BCS runner-up Virginia Tech (who went undefeated during the regular season), and eventual National Champion Florida State (who finished the year undefeated). The 1999 meeting between the Tigers and Seminoles was dubbed the "Bowden Bowl" and was the first time that a father and son coached against each other in Division I football. FSU won the game 17–[43] 14 in front of the largest crowd in the history of Death Valley.


Tye Hill interception

During Bowden's tenure, the Tigers were bowl eligible every season but didn't win any ACC championships (the 2004 team turned down a bowl invitation as punishment for a massive brawl during a game against the University of South Carolina). Despite this, Bowden has been criticized for his teams underachieving. The 2000 Tigers started 8–0 and rose as high as #5 in the polls before losing three of their last four. The same thing happened during the 2006 season following a 7–1 start and with the team on the verge of winning the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers have also shown great resolve at points during Bowden's tenure. The 2003 team won four games at the end of the season to finish 9–4, which included victories over #3 Florida State and #7 Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The 2004 season saw the Tigers start 1–4 only to win five of their last six games (which included an overtime upset of #10 Miami (FL)), while the 2005 team overcame a 2–3 start to finish the season 9–4.

Bowden agreed to resign for $3.5 million on October 13, 2008, after leading the team to a disappointing 3–3 record (1–2 ACC) at the midpoint of a season in which the Tigers were an almost unanimous preseason pick to win their first ACC title under Bowden and were ranked #9 in the preseason polls. Assistant coach Dabo Swinney was named interim head coach.[44]

Dabo Swinney era (2008–present)[]

  Following the departure of Tommy Bowden, wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney was dubbed interim head coach and led the Tigers to a 4–2 record, finishing the 2008 regular season at 7–6. On December 1, 2008, Swinney signed a five-year contract as Clemson's permanent head coach.[45]

2009 season[]

On November 21, 2009, Swinney and the Tigers qualified for their first ACC title game berth, only to lose to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 39–34. They were awarded a trip to the 2009 Music City Bowl, and defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 21–13, avenging their upset loss in the 2006 Music City Bowl.

2010 season[]

On December 31, 2010 Clemson was defeated by the South Florida Bulls, 31–26, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina. In January 2011, Swinney hired new offensive coordinator Chad Morris, In December 2011, Morris became tied with Gus Malzahn as the highest paid assistant in college football after Clemson gave Morris a six-year contract worth $1.3 million annually. Dabo also added on running backs coach Tony Elliott, and defensive line coach Marion Hobby.

2011 season[]

On September 17, 2011, Clemson beat the defending national champions, the #21-ranked Auburn Tigers, and ended Auburn's 17-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in the nation.  On October 1, 2011, Clemson became the first ACC team to beat three nationally ranked opponents in a row: #21-ranked Auburn, #11-ranked Florida State, and #11-ranked Virginia Tech.  On November 12, 2011, Clemson defeated Wake Forest, winning the ACC Atlantic Division title. On November 26, 2011, Clemson lost to South Carolina for the third straight year, the first time Clemson had lost three straight to its instate rival since the seasons from 1968 to 1970. On December 3, the Tigers won their first ACC Championship since 1991, defeating Virginia Tech 38-10 in the Championship Game. #15 Clemson would go on to lose to the #23 West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2012 Orange Bowl 70-33, giving up an all-time record number of points scored in a quarter (35), half (49) and game (70) in the 109-year history of bowl games.[46]

2012 season[]

On Dec. 31, 2012, Clemson achieved its first 11-win season since the national championship year with a last-second upset win over the #8 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clemson trailed 24-13 in the fourth quarter, but rallied back with a game winning drive that saw a 4th and 16 conversion deep in their own territory that would lead to Chandler Catanzaro's 37-yard field goal as time expired to give Clemson a 25-24 win.

2013 season[]

The 2013 season was historic for the Clemson football program. The Tigers began the season with a 38-35 home victory over rival and fifth-ranked Georgia and finished 11-2 in 2013 and secured the school's first ever BCS bowl win with a 40-35 victory over #7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins set Orange Bowl yardage records. Boyd compiled 505 total yards and threw five touchdowns. It was the Tigers fourth win over a top 10 opponent under Swinney.[47]

2014 season[]

Clemson finished 10-3 in 2014, highlighted by a 35-17 win over arch-rival South Carolina and a 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.[48] The Tigers took on ACC rival Florida State in week 3 of their season only to suffer a heartbreaking loss in overtime as #22 Clemson lost to number 1 Florida State 17-23.  The Tigers then claimed a six-game winning streak in the middle of their season but lost to Georgia Tech as star freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson went out with a knee injury early in the 1st quarter.  The Tigers claimed the nation's number 1-ranked defense under defensive coordinator Brent Venables in 2014,[49] and the emergence of freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson propelled the Tigers to another 10-win season for the 4th time in Dabo Swinney's six years as head coach.

2015 season[]

The 2015 season is regarded as the one of the most successful seasons in Clemson history. The Tigers possessed the nation's number 1 ranking throughout the second half of the regular season and ended with 14–1 overall record.  Behind the leadership of Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson, the Tigers won the 2015 ACC Championship against number 10 North Carolina by a score of 45–37. The Tigers were selected to participate in the 2016 College Football Playoff as the top-seeded team in the tournament. Clemson defeated the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the 2015 Orange Bowl by a score of 37-17 to advance to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game against the number 2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on January 11, 2016. Clemson lost the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game to Alabama, 45-40 ending the school's 17-game winning streak.  Heisman finalist quarterback Deshaun Watson had a historic performance setting the record for most total yards in national championship game history, with 478 yards (405 passing; 73 rushing) against the nation's best defense, and becoming the first player in history to amass over 4000 yards passing and 1000 yards rushing in a single season.

In August 2016, reported that the 2016-2017 preseason Coaches Top 25 poll ranked Clemson Tigers football as the #2 team in the nation.[50]


Image gallery[]


Current coaching staff[]

Clemson Tigers football current coaching staff[51]
Name Position Alma Mater
Dabo Swinney Head Coach University of Alabama
Jeff Scott Co-Offensive Coordinator Clemson
Brent Venables Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Kansas State University
Michael Reed Defensive Backs Coach Boston College
Dan Brooks Defensive Line Coach Western Carolina University
Tony Elliott Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Clemson
Marion Hobby Defensive Ends Coach University of Tennessee
Danny Pearman Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends/Offensive Tackles Coach Clemson
Robbie Caldwell Offensive Line Coach Furman University
Brandon Streeter Quarterbacks Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Clemson
Mickey Conn Defensive Analyst University of Alabama
Kyle Richardson Offensive Analyst  

Career coaching records[]

  • Main article: List of Clemson Tigers head football coaches
Tenure Coach Years Record Pct.
1896–1899 Walter M Riggs 2 6–3 .667
1897 William M. Williams 1 2–2 .500
1898 John A. Penton 1 3–1 .750
1900–1903 John W. Heisman 4 19–3–2 .833
1904 Shack Shealy 1 3–3–1 .500
1905 Edward B. "Eddie" Cochems 1 3–2–1 .583
1906–1915 Bob Williams 5 22–14–6 .595
1907 Frank J. Shaughnessy 1 4–4–0 .500
1908 Stein Stone 1 1-6–0 .143
1910–1912 Frank M. Dobson 3 11–12–1 .479
1916 Wayne Hart 1 3–6 .333
1917– 1920 Edward A. Donahue 4 21–12–3 .625
1921 – 1922 Edward J. "Doc" Stewart 2 6–10–2 .389
1923 – 1926 Bud Saunders 4 10–22–1 .318
1927 – 1930 Josh C. Cody 4 29–11–1 .720
1931 –1939 Jess C. Neely 9 43–35–7 .547
1940 – 1969 Frank Howard 30 165–118–12 .580
1970 – 1972 Hootie Ingram 3 12–21 .364
1973 – 1976 Jimmy "Red" Parker 4 17–25–2 .409
1977 – 1978 Charley Pell 2 18–4–1 .804
1978 – 1989 Danny Ford 12 96–29–4 .760
1990 – 1993 Ken Hatfield 4 32–13–1 .707
1993 – 1998 Tommy West 6 31–28 .526
1999 – 2008 Tommy Bowden 10 72–45 .615
2008 – current Dabo Swinney 8 77–27 .740
Totals 25 coaches 118 seasons 705-455-45 .604

Clemson traditions[]

  • Howard's Rock In the early 1960s, the rock was given to then head coach Frank Howard by a friend, Samuel Columbus Jones (Clemson Class of 1919).[52] It was presented to Howard by Jones, saying "Here's a rock from Death Valley, California, to Death Valley, South Carolina."[53] Howard didn't think anything else about the rock and it was used as a door stop in his office for several years. In September 1966, while cleaning out his office, Howard noticed the rock and told IPTAY executive director Gene Willimon, "Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the something with it, but get it out of my office."[53] Willimon had the rock placed on a pedestal at the top of the east endzone hill that the team ran down to enter the field for games.[54] On September 24, 1966, the first time Clemson players ran by the rock, they beat conference rival Virginia, 40-35.[55] Howard, seizing on the motivational potential of "The Rock", told his players, "Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off of my rock."[54] The team started rubbing the Rock for the first game of 1967, which was a 23-6 waxing of ACC foe Wake Forest.[56]
As a result, it is now a tradition for the Clemson Army ROTC to protect the Rock for the 24 hours prior to the Clemson-South Carolina game when held in Death Valley. ROTC cadets keep a steady drum cadence around the rock prior to the game, which can be heard across the campus. Part of the tradition comes after unknown parties vandalized the Rock prior to the 1992 South Carolina-Clemson game.[57]  On June 2, 2013, Howard's Rock was again vandalized when the case containing it was broken and a portion of the rock was removed by an apparent fan of the Tigers, who was eventually arrested following a police investigation.[58]
  • Running Down the Hill Probably the most highly publicized tradition of the Clemson Tigers team is the entrance, which Brent Musburger referred to as "The Most Exciting 25 seconds in College Football."[53] Running down "The Hill" originally started out of practicality. Before the west stands were built, the football team dressed across the street at Fike Field House and ran from there to the gate and down the hill onto the field. Now, after exiting the stadium on the west side, the players load into 2 buses which, escorted by police officers, make their way around the stadium to the east side where The Hill is located. This scene is shown on the JumboTron inside the stadium. When the buses arrive at the east side the players get out and gather at the top of the hill and stand around Howard's Rock; once most of the players are out of the buses and ready to go a cannon sounds; the band begins to play Tiger Rag and the players make their way down the hill. The spelling out of C-L-E-M-S-O-N during this Tiger Rag is one of, if not the, loudest times it will be spelled out during the game.
  • Ring of Honor Created in 1994, the Ring of Honor is the highest award given to former coaches, players, and other individuals who made a direct impact on the football program.[59]
  • The Graveyard The Graveyard is a mock cemetery near the football practice fields that features tombstones commemorating Clemson's victories over ranked opponents on the road.[60]
  • First Friday Parade The Clemson football season kicks off each year with the annual First Friday Parade. The once a year event takes place on the Friday afternoon prior to the first home football game. Floats from various fraternities and sororities and other campus organizations are represented in the parade that rolls down main street in Clemson. The parade culminates at the Amphitheater in the middle of campus where the first Pep Rally of the year takes place. The Grand Marshal of the Parade is featured at the Pep Rally. Recent Grand Marshals have ranged from current PGA professional Dillard Pruitt, to College Football Hall of Fame legends Jess Neely and Frank Howard, to noted television announcers Brent Musburger and Ara Parseghian.
  • Tailgating On October 15, 2012, Southern Living named Clemson the South's best tailgate.[61]


South Carolina Gamecocks[]

  • Main article: Clemson–South Carolina rivalry

The Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is the largest annual sporting event in terms of ticket sales in the state of South Carolina. Clemson holds a 67–42–4 lead in the series which dates back to 1896. Historically, the final score in the game, (on average), has been decided by less than a touchdown.[62][63] From 1896 to 1959, the Clemson-South Carolina game was played on the fairgrounds in Columbia, SC, and was referred to as "Big Thursday". In 1960 an alternating-site format was implemented utilizing both teams' home stadiums. The annual game has since been designated "The Palmetto Bowl." The last eight contests between the programs have been nationally televised (4 on ESPN, 4 on ESPN2).

Georgia Tech[]

  • Main article: Clemson–Georgia Tech rivalry

Clemson's rivalry with Georgia Tech dates to 1898 with the first game being played in Atlanta. The game was played in Atlanta for 44 of the first 47 match-ups, until Georgia Tech joined the ACC. When Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1978, the series went to a more traditional home-and-home setup beginning with the 1983 game. When the ACC expanded to 12 teams and split into two divisions in 2005, Clemson and Georgia Tech were placed in opposite divisions but were designated permanent cross-divisional rivals so that the series may continue uninterrupted. The two schools are 127 miles apart and connected to each other by Interstate 85. This distance is slightly closer than that between Clemson and traditional rival South Carolina (137 miles). Georgia Tech leads the series 51-28-2. However, Clemson leads the series 16-15 since Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1983.

NC State[]

  • Main article: Textile Bowl

The yearly conference and divisional match-up with NC State is known as the Textile Bowl for the schools' similar missions in research and development for the textile industry in the Carolinas. The first meeting of the two schools occurred in 1899, and Clemson currently holds a 55-28-1 series advantage, including having won 11 of the last 12 games played. The series has been played annually since 1971.

Boston College[]

  • Main article: O'Rourke–McFadden Trophy

The O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy was created in 2008 by the Boston College Gridiron Club in order to honor the tradition at both schools and to honor the legacy of Charlie O'Rourke and Banks McFadden, who played during the leather helmet era. The club plans to make this an annual presentation. Clemson first met Boston College on the football field in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic, the first ever bowl game for the Tigers and Eagles. Over the next 43 years, the teams met a total of 13 times. In 2005, Boston College joined the ACC and the Atlantic Division. Since then, the game has been played on an annual basis with Clemson winning in 5 of the last 6 meetings. As of 2014 the Tigers lead the series 14-9-2.

Florida State Seminoles[]

  • Main article: Clemson–Florida State rivalry

Between 1999 and 2007 the ACC Atlantic Division matchup between Clemson and Florida State was referred to as the "Bowden Bowl" to reflect the father-son head coach matchup between Bobby Bowden (Father, FSU) and Tommy Bowden (Son, Clemson). Their first meeting, in 1999, was the first time in Division I-A history that a father and a son met as opposing head coaches in a football game. Bobby Bowden won the first four matchups extending FSU's winning streak over Clemson to 11 dating back to 1992. Since 2003, Clemson is 6-6, including a 26-10 win in Clemson over then-#3 FSU, the highest ranking opponent to ever be defeated by the Tigers. Also during this time the Tigers recorded a 27-20 win in Tallahassee in 2006 which broke a 17-year losing streak in Doak Campbell Stadium. 2007 was the last Bowden Bowl game as Tommy resigned as head coach in October 2008. As of 2015, Florida State leads the overall series 20-9.

Georgia Bulldogs[]

  • Main article: Clemson-Georgia rivalry

The Bulldogs and the Tigers have played each other 63 times beginning in 1897, with the 64th meeting having been scheduled to be played in 2014. Clemson’s only regular-season losses of the 1978, 1982, and 1991 campaigns all came at the hands of Georgia "between the hedges", whereas Georgia’s only regular-season setback during the three years of the Herschel Walker era came in Death Valley during Danny Ford's 1981 national championship run.

During the two programs’ simultaneous glory days of the early 1980s, the teams believed that no rivalry in all of college football was more important at the national level. The Bulldogs and Tigers played each other every season from 1973 to 1987, with Scott Woerner’s dramatic returns in 1980 and the nine turnovers forced by the Tigers in 1981 effectively settling the eventual national champion. No rivalry of that period was more competitive, as evidenced by the critical eleventh-hour field goals kicked by Kevin Butler in 1984 and by David Treadwell more than once later in the decade. Despite blowouts in 1990 by the Tigers and in 1994 and 2003 by the Bulldogs, the series typically has remained very competitive with evenly-matched games.

Georgia currently maintains a 41–18-4 lead in the series, with 34 games having been played at Georgia, 21 games having been played at Clemson, and 8 games having been played at a neutral site (either Augusta, Georgia or Anderson, South Carolina). Georgia had won 5 games in a row, dating back to 1991, until Clemson won a top-10 match-up to open the 2013 season in Death Valley. On August 31, 2013, No. 8 Clemson hosted No. 5 Georgia as the season opener for both teams featuring senior starting quarterbacks, star-studded offenses and questions to be answered on both teams' defenses. This top-10 match-up was chosen as the ESPN game of the week, and Clemson hosted ESPN's College Gameday for just the second time. Clemson won the game by the score of 38 to 35.

Their last match-up was in 2014 in Athens where the Bulldogs defeated Clemson, 45–21.


These old rivals first played in 1899, but until 2010, had not faced each other in the regular season since 1971. Auburn leads the overall series 34-14-2 and had won 14 games in a row, dating back to 1952, before Clemson snapped the streak in 2011, by beating #22 ranked Auburn 38-24 in Death Valley, in front of a crowd of exactly 82,000. Along with snapping one streak, Clemson also snapped Auburn's seventeen-game winning streak coming off of the 2009-2011 seasons.  The Georgia Dome hosted the Auburn-Clemson rivalry in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Clemson defeated Auburn 26-19 riding on a 231-yard performance by Andre Ellington. This game was notable due to Sammy Watkins' absence, having been suspended the first two games due to a drug-related arrest in May 2012. The series is scheduled to be revived following a three-year hiatus in 2016 at Auburn and 2017 at Clemson.

Records and results[]

Year-by-year results[]

  • Main article: List of Clemson Tigers seasons


National championships[]

Clemson finished their undefeated 1981 season with a 22-15 victory over the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and were named the national champions by all major selectors.[64]

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl Opponent PF PA
1981 Danny Ford AP, UPI/Coaches' Poll 12-0 Orange Bowl Nebraska 22 15
National championships: 1

† Other consensus selectors included Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, Litkenhous, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, NY Times, Poling, Sagarin, and Sporting News[65]


Clemson was selected as the one seed in the second College Football Playoff and defeated the fourth seed Oklahoma on December 31, 2015. They lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the championship game on January 11, 2016.

Year Seed Opponent Round Result
2015 1 #4 Oklahoma Semi-Finals – Orange Bowl W 37-17
#2 Alabama Finals – CFP National Championship Game L 45-40
Total Playoff Record  1–1

Undefeated regular seasons[]

Since its beginnings in 1896, Clemson has completed six undefeated regular seasons.[66] This includes three perfect seasons in which the Tigers were undefeated and untied.

  • 1900, 1906, 1948, 1950, 1981, 2015
Year Coach Record
1900 John Heisman 6-0
1906 Bob Williams 4-0-3
1948 Frank Howard 11-0
1950 Frank Howard 11-0-1
1981 Danny Ford 12-0
2015 Dabo Swinney 14-1
Total Undefeated Regular Seasons: 6 (3 Perfect)

Conference championships[]

Clemson won the Southern Inercollegiate Athletic Association in 1900 and 1902 (tied 1903 and 1906) along with the Southern Conference title in 1940 and 1948.[67] Their 15 ACC titles (14 outright, 1 tied) is the most ACC football championships.

Year Coach Conference Overall
1900 John Heisman Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 6–0 4–0
1902 John Heisman Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 6–1 6–0
1903 John Heisman Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 4–1–1 2–0–1
1906 Bob Williams Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 4–0–3 4–0
1940 Frank Howard Southern Conference 6–2–1 4–0
1948 Frank Howard Southern Conference 11–0 5–0
1956 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 7–2–2 4–0–1
1958 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 8–3 5–1
1959 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 9–2 6–1
1965 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 5–5 5–2
1966 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 6–4 6–1
1967 Frank Howard Atlantic Coast Conference 6–4 6–0
1978 Charley Pell Atlantic Coast Conference 11–1 6–0
1981 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 12–0 6–0
1982 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 9–1–1 6–0
1986 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 8–2–2 5–1–1
1987 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 10–2 6–1
1988 Danny Ford Atlantic Coast Conference 10–2 6–1
1991 Ken Hatfield Atlantic Coast Conference 9–2–1 6–0–1
2011 Dabo Swinney Atlantic Coast Conference 10–4 6–2
2015 Dabo Swinney Atlantic Coast Conference 14–1 8–0
Conference Titles: 21
† Denotes co-champions
‡ In 1965, South Carolina violated participation rules relating to two ineligibile players and was required to forfeit wins against North Carolina State and Clemson.[68]

North Carolina State and Clemson were then declared co-champions.[69]

Conference affiliations

Divisional championships[]

In 2005, the Atlantic Coast Conference divided into two divisions of six teams each and began holding an ACC Championship Game at the conclusion of the regular football season to determine the ACC Football Champions. Clemson won its first outright ACC Atlantic Division championship in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2012, Clemson tied for a share of the Atlantic Division Championship and was named co-champion of the division.

Year Coach Division Championship Game Result Opponent PF PA
2009 Dabo Swinney ACC Atlantic L Georgia Tech 34 39
2011 Dabo Swinney ACC Atlantic W Virginia Tech 38 10
2012 Dabo Swinney ACC Atlantic        
2015 Dabo Swinney ACC Atlantic W North Carolina 45 37
Totals 4 2-1 117 86

† On 7/18/2011, Georgia Tech was required to vacate their victory due to NCAA violations and the game is considered by the NCAA and ACC to have no winner.[70]

‡ Clemson finished 7-1 in the ACC and was named co-champion of the Atlantic Division per ACC rules. Florida State played in the ACC Championship by owning the tie-breaker advantage.

Clemson vs. In-State NCAA Division I Schools[]

School Record Pct. Streak First Meeting Last Meeting
Charleston Southern 0-0 - - - -
Coastal Carolina 1-0 1.000 Won 1 2009 2009
Furman 42-10-4 .808 Won 30 1896 2012
Presbyterian 33-3-4 .917 Won 15 1916 2010
South Carolina 67-42-4 .615 Won 2 1896 2015
South Carolina State 3-0 1.000 Won 3 2008 2014
The Citadel 31-5-1 .861 Won 16 1909 2013
Wofford 12-3 .800 Won 5 1896 2015
Clemson 189 - In-State NCAA Division I Schools 63 - Draws 13

National polls[]

Clemson has ended their football season ranked 27 times in either the AP or Coaches Poll.[71] Clemson currently has four consecutive 10 win seasons for the second time in school history.  It is the 4th longest active streak behind Alabama(7), Oregon(7) and NIU(5).  FSU and Ohio State are tied for 5th place with 3 each. <

Year Record AP Poll† Coaches‡ Harris
1939 9–1–0 12
1948 11–0–0 11
1950 9–0–1 10 12
1951 7–3–0 20
1956 7–2–2 19
1957 7–3–0 18
1958 8–3–0 12 13
1959 9–2–0 11 11
1977 8–3–1 19
1978 11–1–0 6 7
1981 12–0–0 1 1
1982 9–1–1 8
1983 9–1–1 11
1986 8–2–2 17 19
1987 10–2–0 12 10
1988 10–2–0 9 8
1989 10–2–0 12 11
1990 10–2–0 9 9
1991 9–2–1 18 17
1993 9–3–0 23 22
2000 9–3–0 16 14
2003 9–4–0 22 22
2005 8–4–0 21 21 23
2007 9–4–0 21 22 16
2009 9–5–0 24
2011 10–4–0 22 22 14
2012 11–2–0 11 9 13
2013 11–2–0 8 7 11
2014 10–3–0 15 15
2015 14–1–0 2 2

AP Poll began selecting the nation's Top 20 teams in 1936. Only the Top 10 teams were recognized from 1962 to 1967. The AP Poll expanded back to the Top 20 teams in 1968. In 1989, it began recognizing the Top 25 teams.   ‡ UPI/Coaches Poll began selecting its Top 20 teams on a weekly basis in 1950 before expanding to the nations's Top 25 teams in 1990.

Bowl games[]

 Season  Coach  Bowl  Game Date  W/L  Opponent  PF  PA
1939 Jess Neely Cotton January 1, 1940 W Boston College 6 3
1948 Frank Howard Gator January 1, 1949 W Missouri 24 23
1950 Frank Howard Orange January 1, 1951 W Miami 15 14
1951 Frank Howard Gator January 1, 1952 L Miami 0 14
1956 Frank Howard Orange January 1, 1957 L Colorado 21 27
1958 Frank Howard Sugar January 1, 1959 L LSU 0 7
1959 Frank Howard Bluebonnet December 19, 1959   W TCU 23 7
1977 Charley Pell Gator December 30, 1977 L Pittsburgh 3 34
1978 Danny Ford Gator December 29, 1978 W Ohio State 17 15
1979 Danny Ford Peach December 31, 1979 L Baylor 18 24
1981 Danny Ford Orange  January 1, 1982 W Nebraska 22 15
1985 Danny Ford Independence December 21, 1985 L Minnesota 13 20
1986 Danny Ford Gator December 27, 1986 W Stanford 27 21
1987 Danny Ford Florida Citrus January 1, 1988 W Penn State 35 10
1988 Danny Ford Florida Citrus January 2, 1989 W Oklahoma 13 6
1989 Danny Ford Gator December 30, 1989 W West Virginia 27 7
1990 Ken Hatfield Hall of Fame January 1, 1991 W Illinois 30 0
1991 Ken Hatfield Florida Citrus January 1, 1992 L California 13 37
1993 Tommy West  Peach December 31, 1993 W Kentucky 14 13
1995 Tommy West Gator  January 1, 1996 L Syracuse 0 41
1996 Tommy West Peach December 28, 1996 L LSU 7 10
1997 Tommy West Peach January 2, 1998 L Auburn 17 21
1999 Tommy Bowden Peach December 30, 1999 L Mississippi State 7 17
2000 Tommy Bowden Gator  January 1, 2001 L Virginia Tech 20 41
2001 Tommy Bowden Humanitarian Bowl  December 31, 2001 W Louisiana Tech 49 24
2002 Tommy Bowden Tangerine December 23, 2002 L Texas Tech 15 55
2003 Tommy Bowden Peach January 2, 2004 W Tennessee 27 14
2005 Tommy Bowden Champs Sports December 27, 2005 W Colorado 19 10
2006 Tommy Bowden Music City December 29, 2006 L Kentucky 20 28
2007 Tommy Bowden Chick-fil-A December 31, 2007 L Auburn 20 23
2008 Dabo Swinney Gator January 1, 2009 L Nebraska  21 26
2009 Dabo Swinney Music City December 27, 2009 W Kentucky  21 13
2010 Dabo Swinney Meineke Car Care December 31, 2010 L South Florida  26 31
2011 Dabo Swinney Orange January 4, 2012 L West Virginia  33  70
2012 Dabo Swinney Chick-fil-A December 31, 2012 W LSU  25  24
2013 Dabo Swinney Orange January 3, 2014 W Ohio State 40 35
2014 Dabo Swinney Russell Athletic December 29, 2014 W Oklahoma 40 6
2015 Dabo Swinney Orange December 31, 2015 W Oklahoma 37 17
2015 Dabo Swinney 2016 CFP National
January 11, 2016 L Alabama 40 45
2016 Dabo Swinney 2017 CFP National
January 9, 2017 W Alabama 35 31
Total   40 Bowl Games 21–19   840 879

Individual award winners[]

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College Football Hall of Fame inductees[]

In 1951, the College Football Hall of Fame opened in South Bend, Indiana. Clemson has had 3 players and 3 former coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame.[72]

Name Years at Clemson Position Year Inducted
Jeff Davis 1978–1981 Linebacker 2007
John Heisman 1900–1903 Head Coach 1954
Frank Howard 1940–1969 Head Coach 1989
Terry Kinard 1978–1982 Safety 2001
Banks McFadden 1937–1939 Halfback 1959
Jess Neely 1931–1939 Head Coach 1971

Retired Numbers[]

Number Name Years at Clemson Position Year Retired
4 Steve Fuller + 1975–1978 Quarterback 1979
66 Banks McFadden 1937–1939 Halfback 1987
28 CJ Spiller + 2006–2009 Running Back 2010

+ Steve Fuller's number 4 was retired in 1979.  However, it was brought out of retirement in 2014 to be worn by Clemson's 5 star quarterback recruit, Deshaun Watson.

+ CJ Spiller 's number 28 was retired in 2009.  However, it was brought out of retirement in 2016 to be worn by Clemson's 5 star running back recruit Tavien Feaster[73]


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