10 Things You Didn’t Know about Clemson Football

The Clemson Tigers are the representatives of Clemson University. They are one of the older college football teams that can be found in the United States, which combined with their football excellence, has enabled them to win more than 700 times so far. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Clemson Tigers:

1. Started Up in 1896

Clemson Tigers football started up in 1896. For context, Rutgers and Princeton played the first college football game in November of 1869. However, it wasn’t until the 1880s that rules were introduced that resulted in the step-by-step evolution of rugby into what is now American football.

2. Introduced by Walter Merritt Riggs

The sport was introduced to Clemson University by a man named Walter Merritt Riggs. In short, Riggs was the coach for the first Clemson Tigers football team, who went on to become the president of the school from 1910 to 1924. He had become familiar with football because of his experiences as a football player at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, which is now Auburn University.

3. The Team Chose the Name

Riggs let his players choose the mascot for the football team. Not coincidentally, Princeton had just won the national championship at around that time, which is relevant because Princeton’s football team is called the Princeton Tigers.

4. The Colors Came from Auburn University

Unsurprisingly, the football team didn’t have a lot of money in those times. As a result, Riggs brought some practice uniforms from Auburn University with him, which were rather faded because of repeated scrubbing. The orange had endured better, while the navy had faded so much that it was transformed into the purple of the Clemson Tigers.

5. First Game Was in Greenville

The first game of the Clemson Tigers football team happened on the Halloween of 1896. There, they proceeded to play the Furman Paladins. At the time, football was still so new in the United States that just two members of the football team had seen a football game being played. One was Riggs, while the other was the backfield player Frank Thompkins.

6. Became State Champions in 1897

By 1897, the Clemson Tigers football team had become state champions, which to be perfectly fair, wasn’t as impressive in those days as it is now. It is interesting to note that this didn’t happen under Riggs but rather under William M. Williams, who coached the football team for no more than a single season. This happened because Riggs had chosen to step down as coach for the purpose of focusing on his scholastic duties, which happened because of the urging of the military cadets. With that said, it wasn’t too long before Riggs resumed coaching, which happened in 1899.

7. Coached By John Heisman

The Clemson Tigers were one of the football teams coached by John Heisman over the course of his long and illustrious career. In total, Heisman spent four years at Clemson University, which resulted in a 0.833 win percentage that remains the best record in the history of the football program.

8. Rivals with South Carolina Gamecocks

One of the Clemson Tigers’ most interesting rivalries is with the South Carolina Gamecocks, which started up in 1896. Nowadays, it is the single biggest sporting event that happens in the state of South Carolina on an annual basis when measured using ticket sales, which says a lot about the passion fueling both sides. Luckily, disputes between the two rivals no longer involve fans going at one another with brass knuckles, which happened in the Heisman era.

9. Rivals with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide

Another rival would be the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. This one didn’t start up until 1900, but in recent times, it has heated up because the last few match-ups had implications for the national championship, thus making them that much more important in the eyes of both sides.

10. Involved in Bowden Bowls

From 1999 to 2007, the Clemson Tigers participated in what was called the Bowden Bowl, which refers to an annual game against the Florida State Seminoles. This is because Bobby Bowden coached the Seminoles while his Tommy Bowden coached the Tigers.


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