A look at Clemson University and its national championship history

Five things to know about Clemson University

Where even is Clemson? And other questions answered in this crash course on Clemson University's history, sports and rivalries.
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Where even is Clemson? And other questions answered in this crash course on Clemson University's history, sports and rivalries.

The Clemson Tigers football team is set to play Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7, in Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California. It will mark the fourth consecutive meeting between Alabama and Clemson in the CFP, and third in the past four years in the championship game.

Where is Clemson University located?

Clemson University is located in the town of Clemson, in the Upstate region of the state of South Carolina. The university, with an enrollment of more than 19,000 undergraduates, is actually larger than the town, which has an estimated population of 16,649, per the U.S. Census Bureau. Greenville, South Carolina, with a population of roughly 70,000, is 30 miles away.

Who is the Clemson head coach?

Clemson is coached by Dabo Swinney, who has led the Tigers for 10 full seasons as head coach and seven games as the interim head coach in 2008. Before that, he served as CU’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator beginning in 2003.

Swinney also coached in various capacities at Alabama from 1993 to 2000. In 2001 and 2002, he worked in real estate development.

At Clemson, Swinney has a 115-30 record with a national title and five ACC conference crowns. He is the second all-time winningest coach at CU, behind only the legendary Frank Howard.

What is the Clemson mascot?

Clemson’s athletic teams are nicknamed the Tigers and have been so since 1896. The school’s mascot is simply called The Tiger, with a student dressing up in a mascot suit since 1954, according to the university.

In 1970, the athletic department unveiled the “Tiger Paw” logo that is still used today.

What are Clemson colors?

Officially the Clemson colors are known as Clemson orange, Regalia purple and Fort Hill white.

How many national championships has Clemson won?

In its athletic history, Clemson has won five national championships across three sports, with all of those titles coming from men’s teams in the past 40 years.

Most recently, the Tigers’ football squad defeated Alabama, 35-31, in the 2017 College Football Playoff championship game to be crowned national champions for the 2016 season. That game, which took place in Tampa, Florida, marked the second of four consecutive CFP meetings between Alabama and Clemson, including the 2019 title game.

The 2016 championship marked the second title in the football program’s history, with the first coming in 1981. In that season, the Tigers defeated Nebraska, 22-15, in the Orange Bowl to finish a perfect 12-0 and secure the No. 1 ranking under head coach Danny Ford.

The Clemson men’s soccer team produced two national championships in a four-year span. In 1984, the Tigers defeated Indiana, 2-1, in the Kingdome in Seattle. In 1987, CU topped San Diego State, 3-1, and became one of just 11 programs in the nation with multiple national titles in men’s soccer. That championship also marked the first and only time Clemson has won a title on its home turf — from 1987 to 1989, the NCAA played the men’s soccer Final Four on the campus of one of the participants.

Clemson’s first spring sport title came in 2003, when the men’s golf team defeated a field of 29 other teams at Oklahoma’s State’s home course in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Tigers defeated the runner-up Cowboys by just two strokes.

1981: Football vs. Nebraska, 22-15, Miami, Fla.

1984: Men’s Soccer vs. Indiana, 2-1, Seattle, Wash

1987: Men’s Soccer vs. San Diego St., 3-1, Clemson, S.C.

2003: Men’s Golf vs. 29 teams, 2 shots, Stillwater, Okla.

2016: Football vs. Alabama, 35-31, Tampa, Fla.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.