Our oldest son became a Clemson football fan at the age of six! We had moved to South Carolina from North Carolina. Of course, we knew about Clemson University from our years of watching ACC athletics, especially football. However, we were unprepared for the Clemson “bug” that engulfed us all and have been Clemson fans for 40 years now.
We have lived through the Danny Ford glory years and actually went to every single game in 1981. As the season began, we had no idea we would end up in Miami watching our mighty Tigers defeat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. What a ride it was!!!
It wasn’t long before it all ended when Danny had to step down as head coach amidst scandal. For years, the school was very divided as to what should have happened. A large fan segment continued to be Ford fans and there are many who, to this day, defend Coach Ford. There really isn’t a question as to whether the school was guilty and the punishment was severe! The NCAA was determined to make Clemson an example. There was a meaningful loss of scholarships (1/3rd) which are so critical in recruiting top players. There was a ban on TV appearances as well as a ban from bowl appearances for two years. The ACC decided to add a third year ban which Clemson fans are resentful about even now.
So, a golden era of Clemson football ended in shame and it would take years to overcome the disgrace as well as to regain its stature as a great football program. And Folks, I mean a lot of years!
But Clemson is back and we’ll talk about the years of recovery and the current program in posts to follow. It has been a long road back for fans who have remained loyal through it all.