This is the second installment in a new series about Syracuse's impending move to the ACC. Previous rival profile: Boston College.
Syracuse's well-documented move to the ACC (at this point, sadly a few seasons away in all likelihood) of course comes with a host of new friends to play with. While several are neither "new" nor "friends," still consider these posts your primer on which teams, schools, players and coaches you'll be hating from 2014 until the next time college football decides to realign.
In our second profile, we take a look at a team we're actually not all that familiar with at all: the Clemson Tigers.
School: Clemson University
Location: Clemson, S.C.
Stadium: Memorial Stadium "Death Valley" (capacity: 81,500) | Littlejohn Coliseum (capacity: 10,000)
Football & Basketball Titles: 1 (1981, football)
Notable Football Alums: William "Refrigerator" Perry, C.J. Spiller, Terry Kinard,
Notable Basketball Alums:Horace Grant, Dale Davis, Elden Campbell
Clemson is considered one of the "football schools" of the ACC, and rightfully so with Memorial Stadium (aka "Death Valley) holding over 1.6 times the capacity of our beloved Carrier Dome. And then there's the tradition of "Running Down the Hill," which is regularly described as one of college football's most exciting moments -- and seems downright horrifying compared to our own docile entrances. In spite of all this pomp and circumstance however, the Tigers possess the same number of national titles as their orange-clad soon-to-be-rivals from New York; just one. In fact, Syracuse has more football victories, more top-five finishes, more undefeated regular seasons and even more Heisman winners. Of course, Clemson had a Heisman once -- John Heisman, himself, to be exact. But after four seasons, he'd had enough and moved on to the greener pastures of Georgia... Tech. In terms of history, the Tigers and Orange have only squared off once, a memorable 41-0 Gator Bowl drubbing by SU and Donovan McNabb in 1996.
As is to be expected when discussing a "football school," Clemson's basketball program fails to hold a candle to Syracuse's yearly postseason trips, three final fours and of course, national title in 2003. Yet, the Tigers have somehow defeated the Orange both times the two teams have met. Back in the 1960-61 season, Clemson defeated SU 78-67 in neutral Kent, Ohio. The other time? A terrible memory for this fan (and many others, I'm sure) in particular -- the 2007 NIT loss, 73-70. Both fan bases likely remember these teams for their own reasons: Clemson for being the first team to start 17-0 and not make the NCAA tournament, and Syracuse for outfitting a team historically screwed out of a tournament berth when everyone had them securely in the field. In hindsight, this game would be a microcosm of the 2006-07 Syracuse team's issues all season. Relying solely on Demetris Nichols for scoring, while playing very little defense, this slow, plodding squad could easily be run off the court in favor of a faster, run-n-gun offense (and were, regularly).
So to recap, as a Syracuse fan, you can take pride in having just as many football titles as Clemson (one) and more Heisman Trophy winners in spite of the award's namesake coaching there for a time. Mentioning that Gator Bowl won't hurt either, and it's all we've got until we pack our bags and head south. As for basketball, it's a moot point for them -- there's little passion or history, and we're one of the winningest programs in the game's history. We stack up pretty impressively with our new rivals so far, don't we?
John Cassillo authors Atlantic Coast Convos, which chronicles ACC (Plus Syracuse & Pittsburgh) football. Check out the blog, and follow him on Twitter: @JohnCassillo