All offseason, Danny Ford heard about his quarterback situation.
The Clemson football coach received unsolicited advice nonstop following the 1980 season.
And in the spring and summer of 1981, there was a torrent of angst among Clemson fans with the blame typically flowing down from the athletic director, to the head coach, to the quarterback.
A Sports Illustrated article from Dec. 28, 1981, titled 'The Odyssey of Little Homer' captured the moment: "The Tigers went 6-5, and 1980 wasn't an easy year for anyone. There were rumors of discontent among the players, and Ford got a lot of unwanted opinions from cocktail party coaches. Much of the talk concerned his choice of quarterback, and some of it was plainly racial. A lot of folks didn't think highly of Homer Jordan as a quarterback."
A black quarterback had not started an NFL game until Marlin Briscoe took the field for the Denver Broncos in 1968.
The ACC's first black quarterback was Freddie Summers, who started in 1967 at Wake Forest. The SEC's first black quarterback was Condredge Holloway in 1972 at Tennessee.
Just a decade earlier, defensive back Marion Reeves became Clemson's first black player in 1971.
Jordan became the one of the first full time black quarterback to win an undefeated national title.
Clemson offensive line coach Larry Van Der Heyden said Ford simply told the staff to find the best players on the recruiting trail.
"One of the reasons we got Homer -- he was recruited by Georgia -- is they wanted him to play defensive back," Van Der Heyden said. "We recruited him as a quarterback, and thank goodness he came here. What we felt is if he's a player, he's a player. I don't know if there was a stigma against black quarterbacks. The team embraced him."
In the spring of 1980, Clemson opened a competition and appeared to have its quarterback.
It was not Jordan.
Andy Headen entered Clemson as one of the top recruits in the country. He was built like a defensive end at 6-5 and 230 pounds, ran like a tailback and could throw a football 70 yards.
Jordan was 5-11 and 174 pounds, lacking the legs and arm of Headen.
While Headen once got into a verbal sparring match with former North Carolina star Lawrence Taylor in a New York City restaurant over who had played for the more talented team in the ACC in the early 1980s, Jordan was exceptionally quiet and unassuming.
What the mild-mannered Jordan did have was accuracy and work ethic.
When Jordan was 12, his father died from complications with diabetes. Jordan became the man of the house, looking after his mother and three sisters in Athens, Ga.
Clemson receiver Perry Tuttle became Jordan's favorite target and remains close friends with his former quarterback. Tuttle said Jordan was a "momma's boy."
"He would eat peanut-and-jelly sandwiches every day. That was his diet," Tuttle said. "He wouldn't initiate conversation, but he would laugh a lot."
To illustrate where the coaches thought things stood in the quarterback battle, Headen worked mostly with the first-team offense in the spring of 1980, throwing touchdowns to starting wide receivers Tuttle and Jerry Gaillard in the spring game.
The third-string quarterback was Jordan, behind No. 2 Mike Gasque.
Jordan spent time at defensive back in the spring but insisted on being given a chance to compete at quarterback. According to the 1980 Clemson media guide, Jordan "was more than likely to be in the defensive secondary for the 1980 season."
Said Clemson coach Danny Ford: "(Headen) came out of spring and was ahead … Homer was a very quiet kid; we didn't know a lot about him."
But Jordan was a much better passer than Headen. And by the fall of 1980, Jordan had emerged as the surprise starting quarterback.
"(Jordan) couldn't throw better than Gasque, but he could run better," Ford said. "He couldn't run better than Andy Headen, but he could throw better. He was just sort of a middle guy."
The prolonged quarterback battle had consequences in 1980, with quarterbacks splitting reps in practice.
"I always wanted to have a guy going into the fall, especially at quarterback, because he is the focus of the football team," Ford said.
There was no uncertainty at quarterback in the summer of 1981.
Jordan had a so-so campaign in 1980, completing 46 percent of his passes. Despite the calls from fans to change quarterbacks, despite race adding more scrutiny, Ford stuck by Jordan, then a junior.
In 1981, the Jordan-led offense began the season slowly before registering at least three touchdowns per game in a three-game stretch against Kentucky, Virginia and Duke.
"We didn't start out of the gate on fire," said Jordan, who coaches high school football at Cedar Shoals near Athens. "But I got a little confidence in myself; the team had confidence in myself. Confidence helps a whole lot."
In the eighth game of the season against Wake Forest, the Tigers' offense had its long-awaited breakout. An 82-24 victory vaulted Clemson to No. 2 in the national polls.
Jordan was a trailblazer in more ways than one. He was a forerunner to today's dual-threat quarterbacks, which have become in vogue in spread offenses proliferating through the college game. Jordan was third on the team in rushing in 1981 with 486 yards while also completing 55 percent of his passes for 8.4 yards an attempt.
"That's what makes the spread offense," Van Der Heyden said. "If you have a dual-threat guy, he is going to be successful. If you are one-dimensional, you are going to have problems.
"I think (Jordan) was one of the first."
In a season of firsts.