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The 1981 Clemson Tigers football team represented Clemson University in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers were led by head coach Danny Ford and played their home games in Memorial Stadium. Clemson finished their undefeated 1981 season with a 22–15 victory over the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and were voted #1 in the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) polls.

1981 Clemson Tigers football
Clemson Tigers logo.svg
Consensus national champion
ACC champion
Orange Bowl champion
Orange Bowl, W 22–15 vs. Nebraska
ConferenceAtlantic Coast Conference
Ranking
CoachesNo. 1
APNo. 1
1981 record12–0 (6-0 ACC)
Head coachDanny Ford (4th season)
Offensive coordinatorNelson Stokley (2nd season)
Offensive schemeOption
Base defense5–2
Home stadiumMemorial Stadium
(Capacity: 53,306)
Seasons
← 1980
1982 →
1981 ACC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 1 Clemson $ 6 0 0     12 0 0
No. 9 North Carolina 5 1 0     10 2 0
Maryland 4 2 0     4 6 1
Duke 3 3 0     6 5 0
NC State 2 4 0     4 7 0
Wake Forest 1 5 0     4 7 0
Virginia 0 6 0     1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

Contents

AchievementsEdit

The Clemson Tigers finished the 1981 season undefeated and untied (12-0) and were voted #1 in the AP and UPI polls. Following the bowl win over Nebraska, the Tigers were selected as Consensus National Champions by the AP, UPI, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), and National Football Foundation (NFF).[1] The Clemson Tigers of the 1980s were the fifth winningest Division I college football team of the decade, with a record of 86-25-4 (.765).[2]

Clemson head coach Danny Ford was awarded the 1981 Coach of the Year Award by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the FWAA.[3] At the time, Coach Ford was the youngest ever to receive the award, and the youngest to have won a National Championship.[4]

In the 1982 Orange Bowl, Clemson QB Homer Jordan received Offensive Most Valuable Player honors.[5] He earned first-team All-ACC honors in 1981, his junior season, and finished first in the ACC in passing efficiency and 12th in the nation. Jordan was an honorable mention All-American selection in 1981. He was runner-up for ACC MVP behind teammate Jeff Davis, but the team voted him MVP in 1981. Even though Jordan was injured for much of his senior season, he helped lead the 1982 team to a 9-1-1 record and number-eight national ranking. He also earned honorable mention All-American honors as a senior. He ranked as Clemson's 18th greatest player of the century. Jordan was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1993.[6]

 
A few Tigers visited the Oval Office in January 1982

Clemson LB Jeff Davis, captain of Clemson's 1981 team, was inducted into the Clemson Ring of Honor in 1995. Davis was a Consensus All-American in 1981[7] when he led the Tigers in tackles. Davis was also named MVP of the ACC and was the defensive MVP of the Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska.[5] Davis has the third best mark in career tackles in Clemson history and has also caused the most fumbles and recovered the most fumbles in team history. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played for them from 1982-87. He led the Buccaneers in tackles and was the captain of the team for four seasons. Along with being in the Clemson Ring of Honor, Davis was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1989 and the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2001. He was named to Clemson's Centennial football team in 1996 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2007.[8]

Clemson DB Terry Kinard is the only Clemson player to be a unanimous All-America pick. He was the first two-time Clemson All-American defensive back and a first-team AP All-American two years in a row, the only Clemson player to accomplish that. Kinard was named the CBS National Defensive Player-of-the-Year for the 1982 season and was chosen to the USA Today All-College Football Team in the 1980s. Kinard was a two-year member of the All-ACC team. He is the all-time Clemson leader in interceptions with 17, a mark that tied the 20-year-old ACC record. He also holds the Clemson record for tackles by a defensive back with 294 in his career. After leaving Clemson Kinard was a first-round pick of the New York Giants in 1983, and was the 10th pick overall in the draft. Sports Illustrated named him to College Football's Centennial Team in 1999. He played with Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in 1986 and was with the club from 1983 until 1989. Kinard played in the 1988 Pro Bowl Game. Kinard played with Houston Oilers in 1990. He was named to Clemson's Centennial team in April 1996. He ranks as Clemson's #3 football player of all-time was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2001.[9] He was inducted into Clemson Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Ring of Honor in 2001. He was also inducted into the state of South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2002.

Clemson WR Perry Tuttle was voted a first-team All-American in 1981, and set then-Clemson records for receptions and yards. Tuttle also had at least one reception during the last 32 games of his Tiger career. He still ranks fourth all-time in receptions (150), second all-time in receiving yards (2,534), second in touchdown receptions (17), and ninth in yards per reception (16.89). In the 1982 Orange Bowl, he had five receptions for 56 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass. That touchdown catch was the final reception of his Clemson career and earned him a place on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Following his Clemson career, Tuttle was chosen with the 19th overall pick of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. After a three-year NFL career, Tuttle went on to the Canadian Football League where he had a six-year career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He helped lead the team to a Grey Cup Championship in 1990 and was inducted into the Winnipeg Hall of Fame in 1997. Tuttle was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1991 and named to Clemson's Centennial team in 1996.[10]

NotableEdit

Clemson hosted the Wofford Terriers on Saturday, September 5, 1981, in both teams' season opener. Wofford was one of the three teams Clemson played in its first year of football competition in 1896, but had not played the Terriers since 1940. Clemson had originally scheduled Villanova University for the third game of the 1981 season (scheduled for Saturday, September 26, 1981) but the Wildcats had cancelled their football program in the spring of that year (the Wildcats restarted football in 1985, and became a full NCAA Division I-AA member in 1987). Wofford had an open spot in their schedule and agreed to play Clemson.

ScheduleEdit

DateTimeOpponentRankSiteTVResultAttendance
September 51:00 p.m.Wofford*W 45–1059,313
September 128:30 p.m.at Tulane*W 13–545,736
September 191:00 p.m.No. 4 Georgia*ESPNW 13–362,466
October 312:30 p.m.at Kentucky*No. 14ABCW 21–357,453
October 101:00 p.m.Virginia No. 9W 27–063,064
October 171:30 p.m.at DukeNo. 6W 38–1026,000
October 241:00 p.m.NC StateNo. 4W 17–762,727
October 311:00 p.m.Wake ForestNo. 3USAW 82–2460,383
November 712:30 p.m.at No. 9[11] North CarolinaNo. 2ABCW 10–853,611
November 141:00 p.m.MarylandNo. 2USAW 21–763,199
November 211:30 p.m.at South Carolina*No. 2ESPNW 29–1356,971
January 1, 19828:00 p.m.vs. No. 4 Nebraska*No. 1NBCW 22–1572,748
  • *Non-conference game
  •  Homecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Eastern time

RosterEdit

1981 Clemson Tigers football team roster
Players Coaches
Offense
Pos. # Name Class
RB 7 Cliff Austin Jr
C 63 Tony Berryhill Sr
G 70 Brian Clark Sr
RB 48 Craig Crawford Fr
TE 85 Bubba Diggs Jr
TE 81 K. D. Dunn Fr
G 60 James Farr So
T 61 Brad Fisher Sr
WR 41 Jerry Gaillard Sr
QB 11 Mike Gasque Sr
QB 3 Homer Jordan Jr
RB 27 Kevin Mack So
C 52 Cary Massaro So
T 77 Lee Nanney Sr
WR 15 Jeff Stockstill Jr
WR 22 Perry Tuttle Sr
Defense
Pos. # Name Class
DT 69 Vernie Anthony Jr
CB 1 Vandaell Arrington So
DT 71 Dan Benish Jr
DE 57 Nick Bowman Sr
DB 9 Ken Brown So
DT 99 Jeff Bryant Sr
SS 26 Tim Childers So
LB 45 Jeff Davis Jr
LB 36 Dean Day Jr
DT 94 William Devane So
CB 29 Hollis Hall Sr
DE 12 Andy Headen Jr
FS 43 Terry Kinard Jr
CB 28 Rod McSwain So
DT 66 William Perry Fr
LB 90 Johnny Rembert Jr
CB 21 Anthony Rose Sr
DE 84 Bill Smith Sr
LB 82 Danny Triplett Jr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
P 5 Dale Hatcher Fr
K 18 Donald Igwebuike Fr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  •   Injured
  •   Redshirt

Roster

Depth chartEdit

Game summariesEdit

Game 1 - Clemson vs. WoffordEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
Clemson 3 14 14 14 45
Wofford 3 0 0 7 10

WOF - Hairston 24 FG
CLE - Igwebuike 52 FG
CLE - Tuttle 80 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
CLE - Jordan 14 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Magwood 11 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
CLE - Jordan 3 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - C. McSwain 5 run (Igwebuike kick)
WOF - Derrick 15 pass from Thompson (Hairston kick)
CLE - McCall 10 run (Paulling run)

Game 2 - Clemson at TulaneEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
Clemson 0 7 0 6 13
Tulane 5 0 0 0 5

TU - Manalla 46 FG
TU - Safety, Hatcher falls on bad snap in end zone
CLE - Austin 4 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Paulling 31 FG
CLE - Paulling 37 FG

Game 3 - Clemson vs. #4 GeorgiaEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
Clemson 0 10 0 3 13
#4 Georgia 0 0 3 0 3

CLE - Tuttle 8 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
CLE - Igwebuike 38 FG
UGA - Butler 40 FG
CLE - Igwebuike 29 FG

Game 4 - #14 Clemson at KentuckyEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#14 Clemson 0 0 14 7 21
Kentucky 3 0 0 0 3

UK - Griggs 40 FG
CLE - Mack 11 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Jordan 3 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - McSwain 3 run (Paulling kick)

Game 5 - #9 Clemson vs. VirginiaEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#9 Clemson 3 7 14 3 27
Virginia 0 0 0 0 0

CLE - Igwebuike 22 FG
CLE - Austin 42 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - McCall 5 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Austin 1 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Igwebuike 32 FG

Game 6 - #6 Clemson at DukeEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#6 Clemson 7 17 14 0 38
Duke 0 3 7 0 10

CLE - Crite 4 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Paulling 20 FG
CLE - Austin 15 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Jordan 1 run (Paulling kick)
DUK - McKinney 29 FG
CLE - Austin 2 run (Paulling kick)
DUK - Jones 21 pass from Bennett (McKinney kick)
CLE - Tuttle 29 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)

Game 7 - #4 Clemson vs. N.C. StateEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#4 Clemson 3 7 0 7 17
N.C. State 7 0 0 0 7

NCS - Lawson 13 run (? kick)
CLE - Igwebuike 39 FG
CLE - Austin 1 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - McCall 15 run (Paulling kick)

Game 8 - #3 Clemson vs. Wake ForestEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#3 Clemson 14 35 20 13 82
Wake Forest 7 7 3 7 24

CLE - Austin 4 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Austin 3 run (Paulling kick)
WF - Duckett 17 pass from Schofield (Denfield kick)
CLE - C. McSwain 1 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Mack 10 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - Jordan 7 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - McCall 24 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - C. McSwain 16 run (Paulling kick)
WF - Cunningham 1 run (Denfield kick)
CLE - Tuttle 75 pass from Jordan (L. Brown kick failed)
WF - Denfield 22 FG
CLE - Tuttle 25 pass from Gasque (L. Brown kick)
CLE - C. McSwain 12 run (L. Brown kick)
CLE - Holloman 3 run (L. Brown kick)
CLE - Crawford 72 run (L. Brown kick failed)
WF - Duckett 5 pass from Schofield (Denfield)

Game 9 - #2 Clemson at #8 North CarolinaEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#2 Clemson 0 7 3 0 10
#8 North Carolina 0 5 3 0 8

UNC - Barwick 22 FG
CLE - McCall 7 run (Paulling kick)
UNC - Safety, Barlow blocks punt out of end zone
CLE - Igwebuike ? FG
UNC - Barwick 26 FG

Game 10 - #2 Clemson vs. MarylandEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#2 Clemson 7 14 0 0 21
Maryland 0 0 0 7 7

CLE - Tuttle 14 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
CLE - Tuttle 5 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
CLE - Gaillard 12 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
MD - Wysocki 7 run (Atkinson kick)

Game 11 - #2 Clemson at South CarolinaEdit

SCORING SUMMARY
  1 2 3 4   T
#2 Clemson 6 9 7 7 29
South Carolina 7 0 6 0 13

USC - Wright 1 run (Fleetwood kick)
CLE - Rembert recovered blocked punt (Paulling kick failed)
CLE - Paulling 24 FG
CLE - Jordan 11 run (pass failed)
USC - Smith 10 pass from Beckham (run failed)
CLE - C. McSwain 1 run (Paulling kick)
CLE - C. McSwain 23 run (Paulling kick)

Game 12 - #1 Clemson vs. #4 Nebraska (1982 Orange Bowl)Edit

SCORING SUMMARY[14]
  1 2 3 4   T
#1 Clemson 6 6 10 0 22
#4 Nebraska 7 0 0 8 15

CLE - Igwebuike 41 FG
NEB - Steels 25 pass from Rozier (Seibel kick)
CLE - Igwebuike 41 FG
CLE - Austin 2 run (pass failed)
CLE - Tuttle 13 pass from Jordan (Paulling kick)
CLE - Igwebuike 36 FG
NEB - Craig 26 run (Craig run)

Coaching staff[15]Edit

  • Danny Ford - Head Coach
  • Tom Harper - Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line
  • Nelson Stokley - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
  • Willie Anderson - Defensive Line
  • Steve Hale - Defensive Ends
  • Les Herrin - Linebackers
  • Curley Hallman/Rick Whitt - Defensive Backs
  • Larry Van Der Heyden/Buddy King - Offensive Line
  • Rex Kipps - Tight Ends
  • Chuck Reedy - Running Backs
  • Lawson Holland - Wide Receivers
  • George Dostal-Strength and Conditioning
  • Fred Hoover - Head Athletic Trainer
  • Bert Henderson - Assistant Trainer
  • Bob Easley - Student Trainer
  • Joe Franks - Student Trainer
  • Greg Craig - Student Trainer
  • Vann Yates - Student Trainer
  • Jay Bennett - Student Trainer
  • Chip Winchester - Student Trainer
  • Len Gough - Equipment Manager
  • George Caine - Graduate Assistant
  • Mark Garrison - Student Manager

ReferencesEdit