(Photo Uploaded By Alan Cutts)
On November 4, 1979, President Jimmy Carter led America through a crisis when 300 radical students, calling themselves Imam's Disciples in reverence to Ayatollah Khomeini, stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
66 American hostages (men and women) would become the top story on the evening news for months as America sat on pins and needles wondering what would happen. Some hostages were released, but 52 were paraded with blindfolds before the television cameras of the world.
As you can see in the photo from 1979, the political situation soon bled over into sports. Steve Durham sports a towel that says "Free USA Hostages" as the Clemson players show their support for the 52 American hostages taken captive in Iran. This picture was taken during the 1979 Peach Bowl.
Clemson would lose the game to Baylor, and many will tell you that the 1979 Peach Bowl was the coldest football game they have ever sat through. Part of the reason for that is the fact that the day started out with temperatures in the mid 60’s and most Clemson fans dressed in short sleeves. A cold front pushed through Atlanta and Fulton County Stadium became 30 degrees cooler in a matter of several hours. It also began to rain, and then sleet, during the game. The running joke today is that all of the street vendors went out and bought up every poncho they could find in Atlanta and brought them to Fulton County Stadium and sold them all to Clemson fans! Clemson fans, caught unprepared, suffered through a brutally cold day of football without the proper clothing on this day at the Peach Bowl.
To this day I hear Clemson fans saying that was the coldest they have ever been at a Clemson football game.
The 1979 team would finish 8-4 and 4-2 in the ACC (tie for 2nd). The Tigers had great wins in 1979 over Georgia and Notre Dame (on Senior Day in South Bend). But the Tigers would drop the last two games of the year (13-9 at South Carolina and 24-18 in the Peach Bowl against Baylor).
The 1979 team was made up of some familiar names to Clemson fans, including Obed Ariri, Homer Jordan, Cliff Austin, Jeff Stockstill, Perry Tuttle, Marvin Sims, Terry Kinard, Jeff Davis, Bubba Brown, Jeff Bostic, Jim Stuckey, and Jeff Bryant.
As Clemson dropped the last two games of 1979 and won only 6 games in 1980, the heat would quickly turn up on head coach Danny Ford. Ford would save his job with a big win over South Carolina in 1980, the famous “Orange Britches” game.
And many of these players from the 1979 team would serve as key components of the 1981 National Championship team.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org