Tales from Clemson's 1981 Championship Season
In 1981, a team from a school nestled in the rural foothills of the Appalachians in South Carolina captured the fancy of college football fans everywhere. Coach Danny Ford's Clemson Tigers struggled early against Wofford and edged Tulane before finding their groove to defeat national powers Georgia, North Carolina, and Nebraska to go 12-0, and eventually win the national title.In Tales from Clemson's 1981 Championship Season, veteran ACC sports writer Ken Tysiac tells the story of Clemson's greatest team from the perspective of the players and coaches who made it happen. The team's cast of characters is almost as impressive as its accomplishments. Long before he became a national icon as "The Fridge" with the Chicago Bears, William Perry was a giant Clemson freshman and went toe to toe with the greatest center in college football -- Nebraska's Dave Rimington -- in the Orange Bowl. During the days leading up to the Orange Bowl, Perry exhibited his charm on a national stage for the first time in Miami, gleefully jumping to dunk a football through the goal posts for the television cameras.Perry Tuttle was a wide receiver with the gift of gab whose celebration of a touchdown catch in the Orange Bowl was immortalized in the only Sports Illustrated cover ever to feature Clemson. His roommate, bruising linebacker Jeff Davis, would talk with Tuttle before they went to sleep at night about their dreams of winning a national title.Danny Ford was a tobacco-chewing country boy much smarter than he let on with the "Aw, shucks" demeanor that made him a local hero. On the field, his fiery countenance instilled the toughness that made Clemson's defense nearly impregnable in a season that changed thestature of the entire community forever.Once supported almost exclusively by its loyal alumni, Clemson became the darling of a new legion of fans as well as corporate donors looking for tickets to impress their clients. A school
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