1979 (8-4, 4-2, 2T in ACC)
S 8 21-0 W H Furman
S 15 0-19 L H Maryland
S 22 12-7 W H Georgia
O 6 17-7 W H Virginia
O 13 21-0 W A Va. Tech
O 20 28-10 W A Duke
O 27 13-16 L H N.C. State
N 3 31-0 W H W Forest (NR-14)
N 10 19-10 W A NC (18-NR)
N 17 16-10 W A Not. Dame (14-NR)
N 24 9-13 L A SC (13-19)
D 31 18-24 L N1 Baylor (18-20)
N1 at Peach Bowl at Atlanta, GA
The 1979 Clemson University football season was a special one in many
respects. While the Tigers didn't finish the season with an undefeated
record and a Bowl win, 1979 highlighted the beginning of a new era in Clemson
football history. An era that would produce some of the greatest players in
school history, as well as the most dominant and winning teams the
university had ever seen. But what set this team's charisma apart from
others in many respects was the addition of a new head coach, Danny Ford.
Just two years earlier, coach Charley Pell had turned a 1976 team with a
3-6-2 record into powerful force that earned its due respect. Under new
leadership in 1977, Clemson blasted to the forefront of college football with
an 8-2-1 record and a berth in the Gator Bowl, and Pell wasn't done there.
He raised the bar the following season in which he led his team to a 10-1
regular season before resigning to become head coach at Florida. Danny Ford
had some important shoes to fill as Clemson's new head coach during the post
season, and he rose to the occasion.
Being named head coach of a dominant football team just before a bowl game
was probably not what Ford had in mind. Nevertheless, he finished the job
that Pell began and was able to claim the 1978 Gator Bowl Championship over
Ohio State. The win was just a preview of what was to follow with Danny Ford
leading the Tigers.
During his first regular season as head coach, Ford was able to participate
in some very important creation of college football history. The Tigers
finished the season with a respectable 8-4 record and a loss to Baylor in the
Peach Bowl, but 1979 was a year that Clemson fans will always hold dearly.
Not only did the Tiger's mark their 400th all-time victory with a 12-7 win at
home over Georgia, but they shattered a proud and important tradition in
college football by doing the unthinkable. In 1979 Clemson beat Notre Dame
16-10, and not only was the game played in South Bend, but it was the first
homecoming loss in Notre Dame history. Ford and his Tiger's had earned some
well-deserved bragging rights.
1979 also marked the end of some impressive Clemson football careers.
Running back Lester Brown finished his final season with a career rushing
record 31 touchdowns, a total of 2228 yards, and an average of 4.45 yards per
Quarterback Billy Lott also finished the season with some impressive
statistics. Not only did he pass for over 1300 career yards, but he also
ranks fifth in Clemson career completion percentage with a very effective
.530. All-American wide receiver Jerry Butler was the fifth pick in the 1979
NFL draft, and he also went on to win the AFC Rookie-of-the-year with the
Buffalo Bills the following year.
Bubba Brown demonstrated his abilities as a linebacker with an incredible 22 tackles in a single game against N.C.
State. Kicker Obed Ariri finished fifth in the NCAA in field goal
percentage, while punter David Sims finished at an impressive fourth. Ariri
would return the following season to make some more Clemson history.
While 1979 was not the year that Clemson would have its greatest record, it
was a year of effective transition. The seniors on the team made Danny
Ford's inaugural season as head coach a memorable one. Together they made
Clemson winning history, posted an admirable record, and broke a college
football tradition. But above all, the Tiger's 1979 season was just a taste
of the greatness to follow.
TE: Mark Clifford, 6-4, 206, Sr. (11)
OT: Lee Nanney, 6-4, 246, So. (12)
OG: Chris Dolce, 6-2, 239, Sr. (12)
C: Mark Thornton, 6-4, 229, Sr. (12)
OG: Jeff Bostic, 6-1, 237, Sr. (12)
OT: Gary Brown, 6-3, 245, Fr. (11)
SE: Jerry Gaillard, 6-0, 170, So. (12)
QB: Billy Lott, 6-0, 189, Sr. (12)
FB: Marvin Sims, 6-4, 234, Sr. (12)
TB: Lester Brown, 6-0, 175, Sr. (10)
FLK: Perry Tuttle, 6-0, 172, So. (12)
PK: Obed Ariri, 5-9, 169, Jr. (11)
DE: Bob Goldberg, 6-1, 213, Sr. (9)
DT: Jim Stuckey, 6-5, 241, Sr. (12)
MG: Charlie Bauman, 6-1, 226, Jr. (12)
DT: Steve Durham, 6-5, 239, Jr. (12)
DE: David Reed, 6-2, 209, Jr. (12)
SLB: Jeff Davis, 6-0, 223, So. (12)
WLB: Bubba Brown, 6-0, 210, Sr. (12)
CB: Eddie Geathers, 6-2, 186, Jr. (12)
SS: Willie Underwood, 5-11, 193, Jr. (12)
FS: Jack Cain, 5-10, 170, Jr. (9)
CB: Rex Varn, 6-1, 180, Sr. (12)
P: David Sims, 6-4, 220, Jr. (12)
Number in parentheses is games started by that player regardless of position in that season.