Clemson makes history at College Football Hall of Fame


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Swinney takes a picture of Clemson's name on the trophy
Swinney takes a picture of Clemson's name on the trophy

ATLANTA, GA – There is no substitute for victory.

That quote by the legendary General Douglas MacArthur was the keynote Thursday night when The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame formally presented Clemson University head coach Dabo Swinney with the MacArthur Bowl, the organization's national championship trophy for the Football Bowl Subdivision, during a ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame.

SEC Network broadcaster and GridironNow.com columnist Tony Barnhart emceed the event, which included remarks from Coach Swinney, NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell and College Football Hall of Fame CEO Dennis Adamovich. Coach Swinney accepted the award on behalf of his Clemson football team in front of an audience full of excited Tiger fans.

"To be here today is kind of surreal, and to look at this trophy and to know that we have Clemson's name on it, and to be associated with so many other great teams and great coaches and great players, it truly is an honor," said Coach Dabo Swinney. "And I am the one standing up here at the podium, but I am a little uncomfortable with that to be honest with you because I am just one guy, and if there is one thing that the game of football teaches is team, and we all have a role. And I am not standing here without a lot of great people and that is just the bottom line. I am really here to represent Clemson University, to represent our board of trustees, President [James P.] Clements, Dan Radakovich, and to accept this trophy most of all on behalf of our staff and our team."

The NFF previously announced Clemson as the recipient of the trophy following its 35-31 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The ceremony marked the official unveiling of the trophy with Clemson's name permanently etched on the fabled archways of the historic trophy, joining the previous 59 teams who have been recognized since the coveted honor was first bestowed in 1959.

This is Clemson's second time to receive the MacArthur Bowl, having previously won the trophy in 1981 under 2017 College Football Hall of Fame electee Danny Ford. A team in the current ACC has now claimed the trophy 11 times.

Swinney said events like Thursday’s show he’s had the right mentors along the way.

“My coach Gene Stallings, I was with him for seven years. Working and playing for Gene Stallings for seven years, when he would be in a setting like this or talking at a function, he would quote Sir Isaac Newton, ‘If it seems as though I can see further than most, it’s because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.’ I used to hear him say that all of that and it was a nice thing for him to say, but I totally understand that sentiment because that’s what I have lived,” Swinney said. “The Bible teaches that where there is no counsel, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.

“What I have had in my life is a multitude of counselors. I’ve had the privilege to stand on the shoulders of giants, people that have been put in my life like Woody McCorvey, who is like a father to me and was my position coach at Alabama and has been with me from day one helping me run the program at Clemson. I’m up here at the podium but it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. I have been surrounded by a multitude of counselors and that’s why we’ve had success. Any success that we’ve had, it’s been through the efforts of a lot of people. I’m just one of them. It’s an honor to be one of them and a privilege to be the head football coach at Clemson University. It’s a privilege to be able to lead a group of great young men in this great game. To have our name re-attached to this trophy for the first time since 1981 is something I’ve dreamed about.”

Several Clemson fans purchased tickets for the event and watched the proceedings, and Swinney said he was happy to once again share a moment with the Tiger faithful.

“I’ve dreamed about winning a championship at Clemson and being a part of that sheer and utter joy - this joyous moment - and being able to celebrate that with all of Clemson nation is something I’ll never forget and something I look forward to doing again, so I appreciate that feeling,” he said.

The MacArthur Bowl represents the pinnacle of team achievement in college sports, and each year during its 58-year history a new name has been etched alongside the greatest teams of all time. The trophy, a replica of a football stadium, features archways with space to engrave the names of 100 teams and miniature goal posts. The trophy was the gift of an anonymous donor, who commissioned Tiffany & Co. to craft it from 400 ounces of silver, in honor of NFF founder General Douglas A. MacArthur. It took eight months to make, and the trophy features MacArthur's famous quote: "There is no substitute for victory."

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