CLEMSON — Danny Ford, the coach of Clemson’s only national championship football team, and six-time College World Series baseball coach Bill Wilhelm will be inducted this fall to their respective sport’s Clemson Athletics Ring of Honor.
Ford led the Tigers from 1978-89, starting out as the nation’s youngest head coach at age 30 and beating Nebraska, 22-15, in the 1982 Orange Bowl at 33 to win the title and national coach of the year. In his first bowl game guiding Clemson — the 1978 Gator Bowl — Ford sent Ohio State legend Woody Hayes to retirement with a 17-15 loss.
A three-year letterman at Alabama for Bear Bryant in the 1960s, Ford won 76 percent of his games at Clemson, the best mark of any Clemson coach logging more than four years at the helm, and five ACC championships, trailing only Frank Howard’s eight in school history. He went on to coach five years at Arkansas in the mid-1990s.
“I am very appreciative of this honor,” Ford said in a statement. “I feel a coach is less deserving of something like this than a player. They are the ones who did all the blocking and tackling, the coaches just try to direct them and draw up the plays.
“Clemson is a special place to me and always will be.”
Wilhelm retired with the fifth most wins among active college baseball coaches, never compiling a losing season in his 36 years. His record was 1,161-536-10 with 19 regular season titles and 11 conference crowns from 1958-93, and today he remains the ACC’s winningest baseball coach.
Ford is the ninth football member of Clemson’s Ring of Honor, while Wilhelm sidles up next to his three-time All-American player Rusty Adkins as the Tigers’ only baseball representatives.
Ford, 65, and Wilhelm, who passed away on Christmas Eve 2010, will be recognized at a 2013 Clemson football game, and an additional ceremony will be held posthumously for Wilhelm at a baseball game next spring.
The Oct. 12 Boston College game is Hall of Fame Day and Football Reunion Weekend, when 10 Clemson greats (including Brentson Buckner and Terrence Flagler) will be inducted to the school’s Hall of Fame.
Clemson also announced that the team radio booth will be renamed after 35-year “Voice of the Tigers” Jim Phillips at a home football game this fall.
Phillips broadcast 401 football games and more than 1,000 men’s basketball games from 1968-2003, dying suddenly after Clemson played Furman on Sept. 8, 2003. He was named South Carolina Broadcaster of the Year five times, and is a member of Clemson’s and the state of South Carolina’s Athletic Halls of Fame.
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