Playoff football: Tigers will break out the orange britches against FSU


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The last time we saw the orange britches, the Tigers won the title
The last time we saw the orange britches, the Tigers won the title

CLEMSON – The last time Clemson wore the orange pants in a football game, we saw Hunter Renfrow gather in a pass from Deshaun Watson and fall into Clemson history with the school’s second football National Championship.

Since last January, the pants have been in storage, once again waiting for playoff football.

Playoff football is back, and the Tigers will wear the orange britches for the first time this season when they take on Florida St. in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. rivalry game. Head coach Dabo Swinney only allows the orange pants to be worn for championship games, and the Tigers can clinch the ACC Atlantic Division title with a win Saturday.

The players can’t wait.

“It kind of gets us excited. You know when you put those on it's big-time football,” linebacker Kendall Joseph said. “In football, every game counts but it's a little something extra special when you put those orange pants on. It means it's championship season. When you put them on, it's time to represent and do what we have to do.”

The tradition of the orange pants started back in 1980. Danny Ford was searching for something to spark his football team. Prior to the 1980 season, Ford had his team manager order a special set of uniform pants for the Tigers to wear against arch-rival South Carolina in the regular-season finale. Ford wasn’t sure how he was going to introduce the pants to the team or if the players would even wear them that year.

But after falling to Maryland 34-7 the week before the Palmetto State’s big game, Ford knew it was time to break out these so-called special pants. The Tigers defeated the Gamecocks 27-6.

For today’s Clemson players, the orange pants mean it’s their favorite time of the year.

“It's huge. I was just talking to Christian (Wilkins) about it. This is our favorite time of the year because every week we have something big,” defensive end Clelin Ferrell said. “It's like we are playing, or a championship every week now. N.C. State, we needed that game to have a chance to win the division, this week we can win the division, The Citadel is Military Appreciation and South Carolina will be the state championship. Hopefully we can make it to the ACC Championship. Every week is another big game, another championship game, and an opportunity to go out there and accomplish our next goal.”

Quarterback Kelly Bryant says the orange pants mean it’s time to play for trophies.

“That means we are playing for a championship. It's championship time, the championship phase of our journey,” Bryant said. “When we bring out the orange pants, that means a championship is on the line. You don't just get to wear those. It has a special meaning to it. It means we are playing for some hardware.”

Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott wore the pants as a player and has seen his share of orange pants game as a coach, and he says the tradition Swinney has started resonates with the players.

“As a player, we didn't talk a lot about the orange britches. We got excited when we got the chance to wear all orange or wear purple or something that was a little bit different,” Elliott said. “But there wasn't a lot of significance to it. But now, Coach Swinney has changed the mindset in that the tradition of the uniform, when we put on our orange pants we are playing for something and our guys believe that and they take pride in that. They know whenever we put on orange pants, we are playing for something that is on the line, specifically hardware and an opportunity to win the conference.”

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