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November 6th Clemson Historic Picture Of The Day

Fred Cone As Santa in 1948

"Pop, this next play is going to determine whether I am a good coach or a SOB"-Frank Howard



(Photo Uploaded By Alan Cutts)



Today’s picture is from 1948 and of Fred Cone joking around by dressing up as Santa Claus during a practice session in December of 1948 as the Tigers prepare for the Gator Bowl.


Cone is standing inside of Memorial Stadium with the North Stands at his back.


Frank Howard spoke of Cone in his book, Howard The Legend. Below is an excerpt.


When I was about to graduate from high school, all my sisters said, "Brother, get you a job and help momma." Except Hazel. She said, "You go to college and I'll help momma."


In 1947, Hazel called me and said, "Brother, I have you a great football player. But he never has played football." She said his name was Fred Cone. She was sure he'd make a fine player, even though he'd never played the sport.


The main reason for her call is that he just wanted into Clemson. He had tried Auburn and Alabama, but they were full. Back in those days, it was hard to get into college because of all the veterans returning from World War II. But I had an arrangement with our registrar. I had told him that on September 1st I'd give him 40 names of boys I wanted in school and he'd save me 40 places. When Hazel called I had 39 names on that list.


So, I wrote Fred Cone in as my 40th name. That's how he got into school.I asked her later how she knew he was going to be a great football player. She said, "I saw him dive off a diving board one time."


Cone was from Pineapple, Alabama. His aunt lived next door to Hazel. Those two tickets that I sent to her for that Tulane game got me the next-door neighbor's nephew, who turned out to be one of the best football players I ever had.


Fred was a fullback. After he played for me he played for Green Bay in the NFL for several years. Then he went to Dallas for several more seasons. When Fred hit the line, he could either run over them or around them.


Our 1948 team was playing Missouri in the Gator Bowl game played January 1, 1949. They couldn't stop us and we couldn't stop them. I had a fellow working for me as an assistant coach named Russ Cohen. He told me after that game that we had a good team except for our pass defense. So I hired him to take over that phase of our defense. He called me 'Skipper' and I called him 'Pop'.


So we were playing in that Gator Bowl. We had Missouri 24-23 with two minutes to play. We had the ball on the 50-yard line. My tailback was calling the signals. In those days you couldn't send in plays. But you could signal a little bit if they didn't see you. So he looked over at me, wondering if he should punt because it was fourth and four. But I gave him the 'go' sign. I figured Missouri could score from 80 yards as easy as from 50 the way they had been moving the ball. I thought our only chance was to make a first down and run out the clock.


Skipper asked me what I told him. I said, "Pop, I told him to run it." He said, "Oh, my God, I wish you'd have told him to punt." I said, "Pop, this next play is going to decide whether I'm a good coach or an SOB."


Old Cone busted in there, got hit right at the line of scrimmage, but wiggled out of there and got six. The old man grabbed me around the neck and said, "Skipper, you're not an SOB today."


Then we kept the ball until the game was over. Cone really saved me my job.

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Scott Rhymer can be reached at scottrhymer.tps@gmail.com

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