I'm pleased to present today's Historic Clemson Photo, submitted by long time TigerNet member Mintaka®.
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Thank you very much, and enjoy! --Crump and B-Meist
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Fred Cone joking around by dressing up as Santa Claus during a practice session just before Christmas in 1948, as the Tigers prepare for the Gator Bowl. Little did anyone realize how much the part of Santa he would actually play during the bowl game.
From Frank Howard's book:
When I was about to graduate from high school, all my sisters said, "Brother, get you a job
and help momma." Except Hazel. She said, "You go to college and I'll help momma."
When I first became the Clemson coach, we used to play Tulane every year. Since Hazel
lived nearby in Biloxi, I'd send her two tickets to the game. One year I sent her two tickets
and she sent them back and wrote, "Brother, please send four. I want to take my next door
neighbor to the game." So, I sent her four.
Later, in 1947, she called me and said, "Brother, I have you a great football player. But he
never has played football." She said his name was Fred Cone. She was sure he'd make a fine
player, even though he'd never played the sport. The main reason for her call is that he just
wanted into Clemson. He had tried Auburn and Alabama, but they were full.
Back in those days, it was hard to get into college because of all the veterans returning from
World War II. But I had an arrangement with our registrar. I had told him that on September 1st
I'd give him 40 names of boys I wanted in school and he'd save me 40 places. When Hazel
called I had 39 names on that list. So, I wrote Fred Cone in as my 40th name. That's how he
got into school.
I asked her later how she knew he was going to be a great football player. She said, "I saw
him dive off a diving board one time."
Cone was from Pineapple, Alabama. His aunt lived next door to Hazel. Those two tickets that
I sent to her for that Tulane game got me the next-door neighbor's nephew, who turned out to
be one of the best football players I ever had.
Fred was a fullback. After he played for me he played for Green Bay in the NFL for several
years. Then he went to Dallas for several more seasons.
When Fred hit the line, he could either run over them or around them. One thing I remember
most about him. Our 1948 team was playing Missouri in the Gator Bowl game played
January 1,1949. They couldn't stop us and we couldn't stop them.
I had a fellow working for me as an assistant coach named Russ Cohen. Russ had given me my
scholarship to Alabama. He became the head coach at LSU and Vanderbilt and later was coaching
at VPI when he saw us play somewhere. He told me after that game that we had a good team
except for our pass defense. So I hired him to take over that phase of our defense. He called me
'Skipper' and I called him 'Pop'.
So we were playing in that Gator Bowl. We had Missouri 24-23 with two minutes to play. We had
the ball on the 50-yard line. My tailback was calling the signals. In those days you couldn't send in
plays. But you could signal a little bit if they didn't see you. So he looked over at me, wondering
if he should punt because it was fourth and four.
But I gave him the 'go' sign. I figured Missouri could score from 80 yards as easy as from 50 the
way they had been moving the ball. I thought our only chance was to make a first down and run
out the clock.
Skipper asked me what I told him. I said, "Pop, I told him to run it." He said, "Oh, my God, I wish
you'd have told him to punt." I said, "Pop, this next play is going to decide whether I'm a good
coach or an SOB."
Old Cone busted in there, got hit right at the line of scrimmage, but wiggled out of there and got
six. The old man grabbed me around the neck and said, "Skipper, you're not an SOB today."
Then we kept the ball until the game was over. Cone really saved me my job.