With a 9-31-1 record against ranked opponents, 13-15-2 against USuC, and lower home, road, and total winning percentages than Tommy Bowden, his legacy is complicated, but still legendary to me. With 8 conference championships and the first Clemson coach to go to multiple bowl games, he is the one that changed Clemson from being a school that had to play virtually every time on the road against the bigger state schools like Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, and USuC to one that played home & home series afterwards, setting the stage for the higher winning percentages of Pell, Ford, Hatfield, Bowden, and now Swinney.
Ironically, he was the last Clemson coach with fewer home games coached (113) than away games (182) until...Dabo Swinney (86 home v 87 away to date). Before Howard, every good coach at Clemson had many more away games than home ones.
His homespun humor drew some attention from the media which helped put Clemson on the map. He actually got Alabama to play us at home, Auburn as well. We played USC, the one in California, when they were a National power. In the Bama, Auburn and USC hames we got clobbered 30-0, 55-0 and 28-0. But Howard recognized that the have to play the big boys to improve and to see what it takes to be at their level. Howard was a major factor in getting us where we are today, rather than just another mediocre program.
I played in that game. Thank you for staying through the weather and watching us. I actually set a couple of records that day in the mud. We creamed Maryland 40-0 and looked like we were on the way to another ACC Championship and a bowl game. Inexplicably, Coach Howard mentally shut it down after that game. He never told me but you could just see it.....he was DONE! I believe he just got tired of it all. We lost every remaining game and I don't think we even practiced in full pads during that stretch. Sad to watch and be a part of.
The real question that should be asked is that without Coach Howard would Clemson have as much passion about football as we do? I say no. Without him and what he did we would be the football equivalent of a Tobacco Road school.
which when sprinkled with his successes in the late 40's and early 50's, as well as his homespun humor, endeared him to the Clemson family.
By the time of my freshman year in 1965, although still dearly regarded, there was a growing rumbling within the student body and the alumni about our mediocre seasons. I had a sense that Coach recognized this, hence prompting his famous quote about his reason for retirement.
He is a Clemson legend and will remain so. I knew him well, highly admired and respected him, and credit him for giving our Clemson family the belief that we could excel on the gridiron.
Needs to be referenced if not already ... that Frank Howard played most SEC schools on the road with SEC referee home cooking (in pre-TV era which made it worse). Is what it is - history in a bygone era where Notre Dame and Army ruled.