20 November 2007


The Curse of Danny Ford

We’ve all heard of the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Curse of the Bambino (now, twice broken), and even the Chicken Curse (a curse created to hide the fact that their school is just terrible at, well, everything), which brings me to my theory. Why can Clemson not get over the proverbial “hump?" Simple, the Curse of Danny Ford! To better understand the hex that has fallen upon our school, here is a brief glimpse into history (cue the fog machine and strobe light):

  • After the 1978 regular season, the young Clemson Assistant Coach Danny Ford took over as Clemson head coach after Charlie Pell left for Florida, with his first game and win being in the famous Woody Hayes upper-cut game in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

  • From 1979-1989, Danny compiled a 92-29-4 (.760) record, a 6-2 bowl record, five ACC Titles, one National Championship, and several wins over Hall of Fame coaches including Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer, Woody Hayes, and Vince Dooley.

  • In 1989, Clemson Athletic Director Bobby Robinson freaked out over the NCAA questioning Danny’s program about possible violations for the second time in his tenure and a feud with the coach over wanting to build an athletic dorm for just football players. So, Robinson hastily pushed the coach out the door. Thus putting an end to the Danny Ford Era at Clemson, despite having won a National Championship in the previous decade, despite having won five ACC titles in ten years, and despite making Clemson a national football presence.

  • Angered and confused, Danny didn’t coach for a couple years until he accepted the coaching position at Arkansas in 1993 and was fired in 1997, finishing with a 26-30-1 record. Despite the poor record, he did leave his successor, current head coach Houston Nutt, with plenty of talented players which lead to 9-3 and 8-4 records in his first two seasons.

  • As for Bobby Robinson, shortly after firing Danny, the Athletic Director was canned by university president Max Lennon due to pressure from boosters because of his letting go of arguable, the best coach in Clemson football history. As a side note, when Robinson was approached in a Clemson parking lot by local newscaster, Stan Olinick, a scuffle erupted between the two, on-air, when Olinick demanded Robinson explain himself about Danny’s termination. That explanation has still not been given to this day.

  • Clemson then hired Arkansas head coach Ken Hatfield, who coached for Clemson for the next four years finishing with a respectable 32-13-1 record and an ACC title.

  • In 1992, the Curse of Danny Ford befell on Clemson University.

How does all of this gibberish constitute that Clemson is cursed? Well, Clemson’s most successful coach in history was fired over a dispute with the athletic director. This was a situation that was far from worthy of Danny getting fired over, and a situation that could have easily been solved, however, that was not the case. Getting rid Danny Ford for Clemson is the equivalent of the Boston Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Therefore, The Curse of Danny Ford was born.

Now, you may ask, “Sam, Ken Hatfield won an ACC title after Danny Ford left, doesn’t that negate your Curse theory?” You would think that, you naïve fan you. Hatfield won an ACC title with Danny’s players and if the man was going to curse our school, he didn’t want to punish his own players still at that school. So, the curse did not set in until 1992 season when Clemson missed going to a bowl game for the first time since 1977 (if you don’t count the years Clemson was on probation in the 80’s).

To further prove my point, here is a look at Clemson’s mediocrity of a program since Danny’s departure in an easy-to-read chart:







Ken Hatfield Era/Error



5- 2 (2nd)

W - Hall of Fame Bowl v. Illinois



6-0-1 (1st)

L - Citrus Bowl v. California



Toilet Bowl



W - Peach Bowl v. Kentucky

Tommy West Era



Mediocre Bowl



L - Gator Bowl v. Syracuse



L - Peach Bowl v. LSU



L - Peach Bowl v. Auburn



1-7 (T-8th or last)

Does Last in ACC go to a Bowl?

Tommy Bowden Era



5-3 (2nd)

L - Peach Bowl v. Miss St



6-2 (2nd)

L - Gator Bowl v. Virginia Tech



4-4 (T-4th)

W - Humiliation Bowl v. La Tech



4-4 (T-5th)

L - Tangerine Bowl v. Texas Tech



5-3 (3rd)

W - Peach Bowl v. Tennessee



4-4 (T-6th)

Declined Bowl Invitation



4-4 (3rd*)

W - Chump Sports Bowl v. Colorado



5-3 (T-2nd*)

L - Music City Bowl v. Kentucky



5-3 (N/A)

Yet to be determined

*Atlantic Division Standing

As you can see, The Curse of Danny Ford has plagued Clemson football and explains a possible deeper meaning to their non-success in the past decade and a half. Since the curse, Clemson has done nothing worth of note on the national scene and their best bowl appearance was in the 2001 Gator Bowl when they got destroyed by the dog killer, Michael Vick and his Hokies. Also, in the past three years, Clemson has been a total of five points away from playing in the ACC Championship, but for some reason, were unable to get there. It’s as if a higher being or force won’t allow Clemson to make that one extra play or make one more field goal to win the one game that they would need to be considered something other than chokers and possibly even lovable losers. When other fans watch Clemson in big games, they all watch just to see when Clemson will blow it, when they will fold and create another chapter of Clemson football losing in dramatic fashion. Inevitable dramatic fashion.

Spinach is to Popeye as Chaw is to Danny Ford.

The Curse of Danny Ford is the only possible explanation for Clemson football not being able to be contenders, not being able to win, and being able to stop this rollercoaster of emotion, we fans call a season, in the station for good.