on September 19, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson-BC burgeons into unexpected rivalry

CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney, like most men, hopes he won’t have to waste part of his weekend shopping for a potted plant.

It’s not so much that the Clemson head coach doesn’t enjoy botany or appreciate the way the right fern or foliage can set off a room.

Rather, Swinney knows that if he’s shopping for flora and fauna on Sunday afternoon, it’s because the Tigers lost today’s home game to Boston College and the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy no longer adorns one corner of his WestZone office.

“It’s been in my office for coming up on a year, and I’d sure like to keep it there,” Swinney said. “I’ve got a nice spot over there, it looks good, so I’m hoping I don’t have to replace it with a plant or something. Hopefully, we can keep it in our office here, but we’ve got to go take care of business on the field.”

The Boston College Gridiron Club began sponsoring the trophy, which is now awarded annually to the winner of the Clemson-BC game, last year, and since the Tigers beat the Eagles 27-21 last season, it has been displayed in his office ever since.

And while the O’Rourke-McFadden trophy may not yet be held in the same esteem as the Jeweled Shillelagh, the Old Oaken Bucket or the Little Brown Jug — some of college football’s more traditional rivalry trophies — the fact that it even exists is proof positive of the very non-traditional rivalry that is quickly developing between Clemson and BC.

Since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005, all four of the meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less, with two of those games needing overtime to settle the score.

“We expect Boston College’s best, and I’m sure they expect our best,” Swinney said. “And C.J. Spiller and guys like Matt Ryan and (B.J.) Raji and (Ron) Brace and (Mark) Herzlich, some of them guys they’ve had, there’s just been a lot of good players that are laying in on the line whenever we’ve come together. And usually, this game has meant something, and fortunately, we were able to finally get one of them up there last year.”

Last year’s win, the Tigers’ first against BC since it joined the league, was also the first college victory for Swinney as a head coach and began a run of four wins in five games to close the regular season, which led to the then-interim head coach having that tag dropped from his title.

“The Boston College game kind of set the chains in motion that, ‘Hey, we’re doing the right things. Let’s keep doing what we believe in, and sooner or later, we’re going to get rewarded for it,’” he said. “And I think it probably went a long way to helping to keep those kids believing amidst the chaos that we had.”

In addition to the trophy, the Boston College Gridiron Club also presents a replica leather helmet — like those worn by the trophy’s namesakes, Boston College great “Chuckin’ Charlie” O’Rourke and Clemson legend Banks McFadden — to the MVP of the winning school. Spiller won the right to don that leather helmet in the inaugural presentation, as he rolled up a career-high 242 all-purpose yards and set up the go-ahead score with a 64-yard kickoff return in the victory.

“It was very exciting inside the locker room (after the game), guys were happy,” Spiller said. “They’ve kind of been our Achilles since I’ve been here, and we were finally able to get over that hump. But we understand this is a whole new year, and they’re going to want to come down here and get revenge and steal one on our home field.”

Clemson (1-1, 0-1 ACC) is looking to bounce back from a devastating 30-27 loss in its conference opener at Georgia Tech last Thursday, which saw the Tigers rally from a 24-0 deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter before the Jackets ultimately responded.

The Eagles (2-0), meanwhile, will open their conference schedule today after outscoring their first two opponents, Northeastern and Kent State, by a combined margin of 88-7 in the first two games in the tenure of new head coach Frank Spaziani.

But while the man in charge may be different, Swinney says BC’s hard-nosed attitude and straightforward approach haven’t changed one bit.

“Here they are — come get you some,” Swinney said. “That’s BC. They are what they are. They do what they do. They don’t try to trick anybody. They line up and they play sound fundamental football.”


Injury report. The Tigers have just one player, senior tight end Michael Palmer (hip) who is listed as probable, on the injury report for today’s game.


What time is it? Clemson announced earlier in the week that Tiger Walk is scheduled for 10 a.m. through Lot 5 to the team stadium entrance at the WestZone per usual. The school also announced this week that the kickoff for next Saturday’s home game against TCU has been pushed back to 3:30 p.m. from the previously announced time of 1 p.m. That contest will not be broadcast on live television, but will be shown over the Internet on ESPN360.com.