Clemson Football

All About The Shoes, NC State at Clemson 1967

November 8, 2019
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Fifth-ranked and 9–0 Clemson is set to face 4–4 NC State in Raleigh Saturday night at 7:30. The Tigers will be seeking their eighth consecutive win in the series, which began in 1899. Back in the 1960’s Frank Howard and State head coach Earl Edwards fought each other repeatedly for ACC supremacy as they met eight times from 1961-68. Howard’s Tigers won five of those games. The marquee game of the decade between these rivals came in 1967. Let’s take a look back. 

All About The Shoes

NC State at Clemson 1967 - By Jim Roberts

On a windy November 18, 1967, the tenth-ranked Wolfpack of NC State showed up in Death Valley to face unranked Clemson. Both were undefeated in ACC play. NC State had risen to number three in the polls before falling to Penn State on the road a week earlier. A win over Clemson would clinch the conference title for the confident Pack. The men from Raleigh had exploded on the national scene with a 16-6 upset of number two Houston in the Astrodome in early October. In the next four weeks, they crushed Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke, and Virginia without giving up more than a touchdown in each game. Coach Edwards’ charges had become nationally recognized for their rugged defense - - who wore white shoes. Several players on their defensive unit exuded confidence or maybe even cockiness.

In the 1960s, no major college football team wore white shoes or any color other than black. In fact, the players on offense for State wore black shoes. The defense got together before the season and sought permission from Coach Edwards to don white footwear. The ordinarily conservative Edwards acceded to their request. As one reporter commented, “They knew they were good and wanted to stand out visually.”

This confidence continued to build during the summer of 1967. State’s all-star defensive tackle Dennis Byrd actually wrote a letter (there was no internet or texting in 1967) to Clemson’s fine running back Buddy Gore during that summer telling Gore what he and the other Wolfpack defenders were going to do to him when they came to Clemson in November. Gore did not reply prior to the season, choosing to wait and respond on the field in November.

Clemson had a really good team in 1967, but a tough non-conference schedule had taken its toll. The ACC in the 1960s had limited the number of scholarships and raised the academic entrance requirements for athletes. ACC schools were allowed fewer scholarships and had more stringent educational requirements than the rest of the country. The result of such idiotic rules put ACC athletics, especially football, at a significant disadvantage when playing teams from other conferences and the independents. 

In 1967, going into the NC State game, Clemson had won all four games against ACC opponents, but had lost all four non-conference games to SEC powerhouses Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and independent Georgia Tech.  In actuality, the Clemson starters were top-flight players, but the Tigers, like other ACC teams, lacked depth. The Country Gentlemen had taken then number five Georgia to the wire before falling 24-17. Bama had squeaked by the Tigers 13-10. 

In the week before the NC State game Buddy Gore and some others concocted the scheme to paint the team’s shoes orange. Legendary trainer Herman McGee found enough orange paint needed to paint all the shoes. Coach Howard did not know of the plan until game day. Since the shoes were already painted by that time, what could he do but go along! One of Howard’s assistants, Don Wade, had played for the old coach and had been a real stand-out. He was also involved in the caper. Wade commented that he and McGee obtained the paint from about nine different places. It was tough to find orange paint suitable for shoes. Tough as it was, orange paint was found to coat every pair on the roster.

When the Tigers rubbed Howard’s Rock and ran down the hill in orange jerseys, white pants, and orange shoes, the crowed erupted even more than usual. Then the game began.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Pack went up 6-0 thanks to second-quarter wind-aided field goals of 37 and 47 yards by Gerald Warren. The score remained 6-0 at the half as the State defense flexed its collective muscle. 

Early in the third quarter, the Tigers struck. Facing a third down, eleven to go at the Pack’s 27, the Tigers needed a big play. Buddy Gore remembers it this way, according to former assistant SID Sam Blackmon, “NC State was in a defense that would provide double coverage on the wideouts and forced the linebackers to cover the man coming out of the backfield. I was not the primary receiver. After all, I only caught seven passes my entire career.”

Gore beat the State linebacker. He looked toward Jimmy Addison, the fine Tiger QB and he, according to Gore, “Looked right back at me.” Addison tossed a pass to Gore, who ran for a touchdown.

Clemson scored another touchdown on a seven-yard run by Jacky Jackson later in the third quarter. Arthur Craig booted his second PAT to give the Tigers a 14-6 lead that they never relinquished. 

The fourth quarter was scoreless, and the orange shod Clemson defenders stole the glory from their white shod opponents by not allowing anything other than two wind-aided field goals. The Tigers went on to whip South Carolina the next Saturday in Columbia 23-12 to win the ACC championship with a 6-0 record. 

There were not many bowls in those days and the ACC had no conference tie-in. Liberty Bowl scouts were present for the game and were obviously impressed with the Tigers and the Wolfpack. The Memphis based bowl wanted Georgia for their game and was able to gain acceptance from the Bulldogs to their invitation. Since Clemson lost to Georgia earlier in the season, the Liberty Bowl decided to invite NC State. The Pack made the ACC proud, however, by defeating Georgia 14-7.

Dennis Byrd became the first consensus All-American for the Wolfpack. Buddy Gore was named ACC Player of the Year, and the Tigers had four additional players named first-team All-ACC by the Associated Press: OT Wayne Mass, OG Harry Olszewski, DE Ronnie Ducworth, LB Jimmy Catoe and DB Frank Liberatore.

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