New era begins for rivalry. So how did other Year 1 coaches fare in USC-Clemson game?

·7 min read

It’s Shane Beamer’s first year as a head coach in the South Carolina vs. Clemson rivalry game. With that in mind, we took a look back at how other first-year coaches in the last few decades have fared in the game.

South Carolina

Marvin Bass, 1961: In a game perhaps better remembered for members of USC’s Sigma Nu fraternity’s pre-game prank of impersonating the Clemson football team, Bass won his first head-coaching game in the rivalry. The Gamecocks’ decisive touchdown in a 21-14 win came with Jim Costen’s grabbing a teammate’s fumble and racing 26 yards to the end zone. The clock then ran out with the Tigers on the USC 1-yard line. Bass went 3-2 vs. Clemson.

Paul Dietzel, 1966: On their way to clinching the ACC championship, the Tigers gave Dietzel a rude introduction to the rivalry, dominating the second half in rolling to a 35-10 triumph over a Carolina team that finished 1-9. Adding insult to injury, Clemson guard Harry Olszewski took a teammate’s fumble 12 yards for a touchdown. Dietzel had a 4-5 record against the Tigers.

Jim Carlen, 1975: Quarterback Jeff Grantz’s something-to-remember-me-by performance powered Carolina to 56-20 romp in Carlen’s introductory game in the rivalry. The Gamecocks scored on eight of nine possessions with Grantz passing for five touchdowns and running for another. Carlen won one other game vs. the Tigers and had a 2-5 mark in the series.

Richard Bell, 1982: In his only season at the helm, Bell had the misfortune of running into the defending national champions and absorbed a 24-6 loss. The Tigers made Carolina their eighth-straight victim after an 0-1-1 start and finished No. 8 in the polls.

Joe Morrison, 1983: Leading 12-10 at the half, the Tigers spoiled Morrison’s first game in the series with a long touchdown march and two interceptions in the second half of a 22-13 triumph. The teams combined for seven turnovers and 14 penalties. Morrison had a 2-3-1 record against the Tigers.

Sparky Woods: 1989: The Gamecocks’ promising campaign — 5-1-1 in late October — evaporated after star quarterback Todd Ellis suffered a season-ending knee injury. With Clemson rolling again in what would be Danny Ford’s final season, Woods’ Carolina squad suffered one of the worst losses in the rivalry, 45-0. Woods won one time in five games against the Tigers.

Brad Scott, 1994: Leading 14-7 at the half, Scott borrowed a trick play from his former boss, Bobby Bowden, on the second-half kickoff. Brandon Bennett’s across-the-field lateral to Reggie Richardson carried 85 yards to the Clemson 6, setting up the touchdown that broke the game open and led the Gamecocks to a 33-7 win and in the process spoil Tommy West’ debut with Clemson. Scott would win only one of his remaining four games in the rivalry.

Lou Holtz, 1999: For a team that had not won in 20 games, the Gamecocks played favored Clemson on even terms much of the game in Holtz’s first battle with the Tigers. The Gamecocks scored to cut Clemson’s lead to three points with about nine minutes remaining, but the Tigers scored again to win 31-21 and leave USC with an 0-11 record. Holtz won only one time in six games against the Tigers.

Steve Spurrier, 2005: This is the “First-and-35” game, the situation that Clemson faced down three points in the fourth quarter. But Charlie Whitehurst and James Davis made sure the Tigers overcame that penalty-created situation and spoiled Spurrier’s first Carolina-Clemson game with a 13-9 victory. Spurrier finished the rivalry with a 6-4 record that included a five-game winning streak.

Shawn Elliott: 2015: Elliott took over the Gamecocks’ program after Spurrier quit at mid-season and the interim coach finished with a 1-5 record. But his team took undefeated and top-ranked Clemson to the wire before falling 37-32. Down 28-10, USC cut the gap to three points before Clemson marched to the clinching touchdown. USC cut the gap with a late score.

Will Muschamp, 2016: On their way to the national championship, Clemson made Muschamp’s first taste of the rivalry one to forget. The Tigers outgained USC 380-52 in the first half, led 35-0 at intermission and finished with a 56-7 conquest. Muschamp lost all four of his games to the Tigers.


Hootie Ingram, 1970: After two opening wins, the Tigers lost seven of eight and were a two-touchdown underdog to the 3-6-1 Gamecocks. Clemson played perhaps its best game, but QB Tommy Suggs’ three touchdown passes led Carolina to a 38-32 win. Ingram coached Clemson two more seasons and defeated the Gamecocks both times.

Red Parker, 1973: The Tigers arrived at the season finale at 5-5 to face the 6-4 Gamecocks. Clemson seized a 20-17 edge early in the final period, but this is the game Jeff Grantz introduced himself to the rivalry, The sophomore quarterback racked up 306 yards in total offense — 185 rushing — and USC charged from behind to prevail 32-20. Parker coached three more seasons and had a 2-2 record in the rivalry.

Charley Pell, 1977: In perhaps the most dramatic game in the long rivalry, Pell won in his debut — thanks to Jerry Butler’s making “The Catch” in the Tigers’ 31-27 triumph. The favored Tigers, making headlines by celebrating wins with cigars, opened a 24-0 lead before Carolina charged and grabbed a 27-24 advantage and some players pulled up jerseys to show “No Cigar Today” T-shirts. But Steve Fuller found Butler in the end zone on a 20-yard strike for the decisive points in the final minute. Pell coached one more season at Clemson for a 2-0 mark in the series.

Danny Ford, 1979: The coach who would lead the Tigers to their first national football title a couple of years later made his debut against the Gamecocks on the wrong side of a 13-9 battle of bowl-bound teams. Trailing by the final score after Jay Feltz’s 80-yard punt backed Clemson up to its 4-yard line, the Tigers drove to the Carolina 5-yard line before running out of downs with 18 seconds remaining. Ford forged a 7-3-1 record in the series.

Ken Hatfield, 1990: Stepping into a talent-rich program, Hatfield started the rivalry with a 24-15 victory. Easy? Well, no. A 17-point underdog, the Gamecocks scored to slice Clemson’s advantage to 17-15 with 10:28 remaining. The Tigers responded with an 86-yard, eight-play march in fewer than four minutes to secure the win that, coupled with a bowl victory, sent the Tigers to No. 9 in the national polls. Hatfield won three of four against USC.

Tommy West, 1994: His first game in the Carolina-Clemson rivalry will not be remembered fondly by West. A 3-point favorite after winning three straight games to get to 5-5 on the season, his Tigers got stuffed. Clemson mustered a paltry 177 yards of offense for the game — just 48 yards and three first downs in the second half — in a 33-7 thrashing. West, however, would celebrate victories in three of his final four meetings with Carolina.

Tommy Bowden, 1999: Facing a team with a 20-game losing streak, Clemson found itself in a challenging duel in Bowden’s first game against the Gamecocks. Although racking up 425 yards of offense, the Tigers led only 24-21 with 8:48 remaining. Clemson responded with another long march, putting the 31-21 victory away with a Woodrow Dantzler-to-Rod Gardner touchdown strike. Bowden posted a 7-2 record against USC.

Dabo Swinney, 2008: Swinney made sure “interim” would be removed from his job title by guiding the Tigers to a 31-14 triumph in his first game against the Gamecocks. Clemson dominated, running up a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. But he would have to wait a while for his second success against USC; the Gamecocks won the next five meeting.s Clemson has returned the favor by winning the last six, giving Swinney a 7-5 series record against USC.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting