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Friday Flashback: Alabama-Clemson Series



Aug. 29, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama and Clemson University will meet on the gridiron Saturday night in Atlanta for the first time in 33 years, but the two schools have been linked to one another for more than seven decades.

Former Alabama great Frank Howard had a brilliant coaching career for the Tigers, and later served as athletics director, where he was responsible for the hiring of three more former Tide players as Clemson's head football coach.

Howard was a standout guard for the Tide from 1928-30 under legendary coach Wallace Wade. He was a starter on the Crimson Tide's 10-0 national championship squad in 1930 that dismantled Washington State in the 1931 Rose Bowl.

Upon his graduation from the Capstone in 1931, Howard became an assistant coach at Clemson under Jess Neely, who had also served as an assistant football coach and head baseball coach at UA from 1928-30. Neely led the Tide baseball team to the Southern Conference championship in 1930.

When Clemson hired Neely as its head football coach prior to the 1931 season, he brought Howard along to Clemson as an assistant coach. Neely spent nine years at Clemson and was replaced by Howard following the 1939 season. The former Tide star then launched the most successful run in Tiger football history until his retirement from coaching after the 1969 season.

During his tenure, Clemson posted a 165-118-12 (.580) overall record, including a perfect 10-0 ledger in 1948 and a 9-0-1 mark in 1950. He had six Top 20 seasons, eight conference championships (2 Southern Conference titles and 6 Atlantic Coast Conference titles) and was twice named the ACC Coach of the Year.

Being an Alabama man, Howard developed a personal friendship with Paul "Bear" Bryant, who achieved legendary status of his own as Alabama's head coach from 1958-82. Alabama and Clemson met four times during Howard's tenure as an assistant coach, but would not meet again for 30 years until Bryant and Howard set up a four-game series between the two Southern powers.

Alabama won all four games, including a pair of hard-fought tussles in 1967 and 1968. The Crimson Tide posted a 13-10 win at Clemson in 1967 and then won 21-14 the following season in Tuscaloosa.

After his coaching career ended, Howard remained as Athletic Director and named another former Tide great - Cecil "Hootie" Ingram - as his successor. Ingram served as Clemson's head man from 1970-72 and was responsible for the now famous "Tiger Paw" logo. Ingram was replaced by Red Parker, the only non-Alabama graduate to serve as Clemson's head coach during the span covering 1940-89, following the 1972 campaign.

Two more Alabama greats followed Parker at Clemson. Charley Pell, a tackle and member of the Tide's 1961 national championship team, served as Clemson's head coach in 1977-78 before leaving to take the reigns at Florida. Pell was replaced by yet another former Tide star, Danny Ford.

Ford, an offensive tackle from 1967-69, served as Clemson's head coach from 1978-89. In 1981, the 33-year-old Ford became the youngest coach ever to win a national championship as he led the Tigers to a 12-0 record and a win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

The Alabama-Clemson ties do not end with Ford as a trio of coaches on opposite sidelines Saturday night also share ties to each school.

Alabama associate head coach and running backs coach Burton Burns served as running backs coach at both Tulane (1995-98) and Clemson (1999-2006) under coach Tommy Bowden. Burns was a major factor in producing six of the Top 10 offenses in Clemson history while serving as running backs coach. He coached 2005 ACC Rookie of the Year James Davis and 2006 ACC record-setter C.J. Spiller. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is pleased to have Burns on his staff, because of his hard work and recruiting skills.

"Well, I've known Burton for a long time," Saban said earlier this week. "I've always thought he was an outstanding coach. I tried to hire him a couple of times when I was at LSU, because he is from New Orleans and has always done a good job of recruiting in several areas of the country. He has done a great job for us here and has done a great job with our running backs as they have made progress and improved. He is a real asset to the staff in recruiting as well as a great guy from a staff chemistry standpoint."

Two Clemson coaches, including Bowden, are former Tide assistants. Bowden was the receivers coach at Alabama under Bill Curry from 1987-89. During his tenure at Alabama, Bowden worked with Alabama teams that posted a 27-9 overall record and won a share of the 1989 SEC Championship.

Clemson receivers coach Dabo Swinney is a 1993 Alabama graduate and was a three-year letterman (1990-92) for the Crimson Tide. He was a member of the Tide's 1989 SEC Championship team and 1992 National Championship squads. His position coach at UA in 1988-89 was Bowden. A two-time Academic All-SEC pick in 1990 and 1992, Swinney also earned a master's degree from UA in 1996. He worked as an assistant coach under Gene Stallings and Mike DuBose at the Capstone.

At total of 15 former players and coaches share Alabama-Clemson ties. Here is a look at others who have served as coaches at both schools:

Mickey Andrews - A 1965 Alabama graduate, Andrews was a football and baseball star for the Tide ... He served as an assistant coach at Clemson from 1977-80 under Charley Pell and Danny Ford ... At Clemson, Andrews served as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for the Tigers.

Curley Hallman - Hallman served as an assistant coach at both Alabama and Clemson ... He was the linebackers (1979-80) and defensive backs (1981) coach for the Tigers under Danny Ford.

Charlie Harbison - Harbison has worked at both Alabama and Clemson ... He was Clemson's defensive backs coach from 1995-97 under Tommy West ... He served as defensive backs coach and wide receivers coach at Alabama under Mike DuBose and Mike Shula ... Harbison also spent two years (2001-02) as defensive backfield coach at LSU under coach Nick Saban.

Ellis Johnson - Johnson served on the defensive staffs at both Alabama and Clemson ... At Alabama he worked for both Gene Stallings (1990-93) and Mike DuBose (1997-2000) serving as outside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator ... Sandwiched in between his two stints with the Tide, Johnson coached outside linebackers and defensive line at Clemson (1993-96) and was defensive coordinator for the Tigers in 1996.

Joe Kines - Kines has worked at both Clemson and Alabama ... He was the linebackers coach at Clemson under Charley Pell in 1977-78 ... He later served as linebackers coach at Alabama under Ray Perkins in 1985-86 ... Kines returned to Alabama and served as defensive coordinator under Mike Shula from 2003-06 and served as interim head coach for the 2006 PetroSun Independence Bowl.

Woody McCorvey - McCorvey has also worked at both Alabama and Clemson ... He worked seven years at Clemson under Tommy West, serving as tight ends (1983-85) and receivers (1986-89) coach ... McCorvey worked at Alabama from 1990-97 under Gene Stallings (1990-96) and Mike DuBose (1997).

Bill Oliver - A 1962 Alabama graduate, Oliver was a member of the Tide's 1961 national championship team ... He also lettered in baseball while at the Capstone ... He later served as an assistant coach at Alabama under Paul Bryant and Gene Stallings ... Oliver also worked as the defensive backs coach under Danny Ford at Clemson from 1986-89, serving as defensive coordinator in 1989.