Publish date:

20 Clemson Past glory spurs the Tigers to reach for the stars in coach Tommy Bowden's third year

On most Thursday nights during the past three football seasons
center Kyle Young gathered teammates for burgers and sweet tea at
Mac's Drive-In, where they occupied the 13 orange stools and
watched videotapes of the Tigers' greatest victories on the old
Zenith behind the counter. On a wall is a grainy photo of the
1939 Clemson team, which went 9-1, won the Cotton Bowl and
included Young's grandfather Ed McLendon, who played both ways at
tackle. Kyle's father, Ron, has coordinated TV timeouts between
the broadcast booth and the game officials at Tigers home games
for two decades. Kyle's older brother, Will, played guard for
Clemson from 1992 through '95. Having grown up within a half mile
of Clemson Memorial Stadium, a.k.a. Death Valley, Kyle, now a
senior, has attended or played in more than 140 games there.

"Clemson football is very personal to me, and I want to help my
teammates understand the amazing legacy of success that we've
inherited," Young says. "I grew up watching cocky Clemson teams
that expected to win every game."

Since the arrival of coach Tommy Bowden two years ago, after a
3-8 record in Tommy West's final season, the Tigers have
progressed to six victories in '99 and nine last year. Bowden's
theme for 2001 is "double-digit wins," and he doesn't have to
spell out the primary obstacles to that goal. Clemson has endured
four consecutive three-point losses to Georgia Tech and hasn't
defeated Florida State in nine tries since the Seminoles joined
the ACC.

"Our goal is to put the Death back in Death Valley," says senior
quarterback Woodrow Dantzler. "It feels as if we've been reaching
for a trophy that's 37 inches above us and we've got a 36-inch
vertical jump. We have to work a little harder to get that last

The Tigers' litmus test, against Florida State, comes on Nov. 3,
the day Clemson celebrates the 20th anniversary of its only
national championship season. "I have this vision of future
Tigers players going to Mac's to watch our 2001 team play," Young
says. "I'd like them to see us finally beat Florida State and
have them say, 'That's the team that brought back Clemson's

--Tim Crothers

COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER Dantzler helped Clemson to nine wins last year but couldn't end the run of futility against Florida State.


2000 record: 9-3 (6-2, 2nd in ACC)
Final ranking: No. 16 AP, No. 14 coaches' poll


1,028 Yards rushing in 2000 for Woodrow Dantzler, the most ever
by an ACC quarterback.


An opposing team's coach sizes up the Tigers

"Quarterback Woodrow Dantzler is more like a running back. He can
break tackles and can make you miss. Backup Willie Simmons might
be a better passer. He's going to be a good player....Linebacker
Chad Carson is tough and smart. You can tell he studies film. He
gets the defense lined up, makes the checks and looks like a
leader on the field....Clemson has some athletic defensive
tackles [Nick Eason and Jovon Bush]....The Tigers signed two
All-Americas at wide receiver."

Strength: 64th of 117

29 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 13 at N.C. State
27 at Wake Forest
10 at Maryland
17 at South Carolina