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SOUTHERN FOOTBALL FRIDAYS: Giving Clemson Some Love

Clemson plays its biggest game of the season on Saturday when they host Notre Dame in a battle of undefeated teams at Death Valley. Thus, what better time to give Clemson some love.

Danny Ford served as the Clemson coach when they won the national championship in 1981. Before he became the head coach Ford was known as a “highly regarded” assistant. Well, leave it to the newspapers for dropping the “g” in regarded and inserting a “t” while trying to refer to Ford as such. When Ford asked the sports information director if he could sue, the SID tole him, “Danny, you’re going to have to prove them wrong first.”

Charlie Bauman played middle guard for the 1978 Tigers, who faced Woody Hayes’ Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Obviously, middle guards don’t have a lot of interceptions on their resume for obvious reasons, and Bauman had never intercepted a pass during his Clemson career — until he played against the Buckeyes.

Clemson led 17-15, but Ohio State was threatening with time winding down when they found themselves at the Clemson 24 facing third-and-five. That’s when Bauman picked off a pass from Buckeye quarterback Art Schlichter. Once Bauman got forced out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline, he found himself face to face with an enraged Hayes and the legendary coach swung at Bauman. Ultimately, Hayes’ action allowed Clemson to run out the clock for the school’s first-ever win over a Big Ten team. The incident also cost Hayes his job.

Finally, Clemson traveled to South Bend to play Notre Dame on Nov. 17, 1979. They trailed 10-0 at the half while getting dominated by the Irish, who compiled 295 yards on offense prior to the intermission. But the Tigers got it going in the second half thanks to three field goals by Obed Ariri and a 26-yard scamper by quarterback Billy Lott. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ defense pitched a shutout in second half and the game ended with the Irish losing its final home game of the season for just the third time in the school’s storied history. Two years later, Clemson would reign as national champions after an undefeated 1981 campaign.

bchastain19@gmail.com

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Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bobby Ross. The former college and pro football coach led Georgia Tech to a share of the national championship in 1990 and later led the San Diego Chargers

©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography