Loss of McFadden Means Few Icons Remain at CU

by - Correspondent -

Special to TigerNet from the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger

Banks McFadden will always be remembered as the greatest athlete to grace the Clemson University campus and that is something no one can argue.

After all, I can think of no other athlete who led their football teams to their first bowl game and victory, led their basketball team to the only conference tournament championship in school history and successfully competed in football, basketball, baseball and even track.

As if that were not enough, McFadden also served more than a decade as assistant football coach and as head men's basketball coach. His remaining years of employment on the CU campus were spent as director of the intramural program.

Last weekend, the 88-year old Clemson legend succumbed to a long battle with cancer at the Florida home of his daughter. He was buried at Cemetery Hill, the final resting place of many past Clemson greats, Saturday.

Certainly, McFadden was shown tremendous love and appreciation by the Clemson family during his lifetime. His football and basketball jerseys have been retired, he has been inducted in both the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor and the football office is named after him.

But the sad part of McFadden's passing is that it represents another Clemson icon who has departed this earth, leaving very few remaining.

Frank Howard, the legendary coach who spent 30 seasons prowling the Clemson sidelines; Bob Bradley, sports information director for more than three decades, and Jim Phillips, the "Voice of the Tigers" for 36 seasons, are just a few of the Clemson legends who have departed this earth within the past decade. Now, McFadden has joined the group and he certainly won't be the last.

When I look around at the Clemson landscape, the first two living legends that come to mind are former president R.C. Edwards, who served from 1956 through 1979, and former dean Walter Cox, who also served as president during the 1980s. Both men are up in years, Edwards, in fact is 91.

Another living legend is Charlie Bussey, who led the Tigers in passing, punting and interceptions in 1956, the last Tiger to pull off that all-around triple threat performance. Today, he serves as executive director of the Clemson Lettermen's Association.

The passing of McFadden has made me realize, as it should other Orange clad faithful, the importance of appreciating these icons while the opportunity still remains. One day, it will be too late.

Therefore, I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to let these gentlemen, along with any others who I might have missed, know how much they are loved and appreciated. Each day we as individuals have an opportunity to spend around these fine gentlemen should be counted as a blessing.

In fact, I have both interviewed and held casual conversations with Dr. Edwards on several occasions through the years. I have found very few individuals who have the energy, the enthusiasm and the joy for living that this fine man exhibits.

I have left many a conversation feeling uplifted and each of these individuals are a living piece of Clemson history, both athletically and academically, that, like McFadden, will make the Clemson family a little less complete after they are gone.

While the number one thing on the mind of most Clemson fans this past weekend was how the Tiger baseball team fared in the Super Regionals, I hope all Orange supporters will take a minute or two and reflect on those who have made Clemson University what it is today, both in the athletic and academic fields.

We should take time to remember the McFadden family during their time of sadness while also giving thanks that some Clemson icons, such as Edwards, Cox and Bussey, still remain to link Clemson's past to its present.

Hopefully, they will be a part of future events that include the completion of the WestZone initiative.

As exciting as the WestZone initiative is to Tiger fans, having these living legends around to celebrate such a significant athletic achievement would be the proverbial icing on the cake.

As Tiger fans and university supporters, all we can do is hope and pray that happens.

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