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The following was written by Will Vandervort for MyOrangeUpdate.com.
Prior to signing with Clemson in 1979, Anthony (Chuck) McSwain remembers vividly what former Clemson Head Coach Charlie Pell, who at the time had just left his post at Clemson for the University of Florida, said to him in hopes of getting him to go back on his pledge to the Tigers.
“Charlie was here when I was first recruited here,” says McSwain. “Charlie decided to leave and he said the reason he decided to leave and go to Florida is because Clemson can’t win a national championship. He said, ‘Why don’t you come with me to Florida?’ I thought about it to a point, until I found out most of the Clemson coaching staff was going to stay. Then I decided I was going to Clemson, and three years later we win the National Championship.
“It was funny because he said that was the reason why he was leaving. He said, ‘It will never happen at Clemson.’”
Pell wasn’t the only coach to try and sell that point to McSwain, and to his younger brother Rod a year later. Former Tennessee Head Coach Johnny Majors used the same tactic as well.
“I remember visiting Tennessee and Johnny Majors was there,” McSwain says. “The first thing he did was point to the National Championship ring he won as the coach at Pittsburgh in 1976 and said, ‘Clemson will never get one of these. This is the only place you are going to get one, so you need to come here.’
“Those were the best memories for me because all of these coaches kept flashing their rings. I was fortunate enough to make the right choice and come to a smaller school that was great for me, and I still won a national championship.”
The Clemson tailback rushed for a career-high 151 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 29-13 victory over South Carolina to cap an 11-0 regular season in 1981. Six weeks later, Clemson beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win the National Championship.
"My brother Rod came to Clemson a year later, and we were very fortunate to both make a difference in that South Carolina game. He blocked a punt that turned the momentum and I ended up being the leading rusher. I broke out a couple of long runs and scored a couple of touchdowns. "
"That was a big game for me because back then, we usually would get nine carries a game. Cliff (Austin) would get nine and I would get nine. Combined we would get a bunch of yards, but it might be 70 with me and 90 with Cliff or something like that."
During that time we had a really good backfield. Besides myself, we had Cliff, Jeff (McCall) and Kevin Mack. We also can’t forget about Homer (Jordan). He was a good runner too. We never really looked to break long runs, I think that’s why were so successful. If it happened, great! But we all knew if we wanted to play for Coach (Danny) Ford, we better make sure we get four yards first. If we went outside and got caught, we all knew we were not going to play."
"The coaches rotated all of us by series. So you might go out there one series and go out, and the next time we got the ball, we would run like six minutes off the clock. So you would go into halftime with only like two carries. I was fortunate I carried the ball 25 times that day against South Carolina. I was fortunate because Cliff got hurt. That’s the only reason I got that many. That was like three or four ballgames for me. I was raising my hand that I wanted out at times. That was too many carries."
We could not have asked for a better way though to end the year, especially for Rod and myself. I had the day I had, and Rod blocked that punt. It brings back good memories."
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