January 11, 1982
A few days before the 1982 Hula Bowl, Clemson wide receiver Perry Tuttle was basking in the Hawaiian sun and the glow of the Tigers' recent national-championship-clinching win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl when USC running back Marcus Allen threw a magazine on Turtle's lap and said, "I can't believe a country boy from Clemson would be on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED."
Tuttle, a senior All-America from Lexington, N.C., had made the cover by catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the Tigers' 22-15 victory over the Cornhuskers. That win completed a 12-0 season for Clemson and established Tuttle as a hero forever to the Tigers faithful, hundreds of whom sent him copies of the issue to autograph.
In September, Tuttle returned to the spotlight at his alma mater by joining The Tailgate Show, a radio broadcast during which he and co-host Whitney Walters patrol the parking lots surrounding Clemson's stadium in a bright orange golf cart for two hours before every home game. Says Walters, "Everybody recognizes Perry, even the youngest kids." Tuttle found himself in something of an awkward position, however, as Clemson stumbled to a 3-8 record, its worst in 23 years. "Broadcasting was a little difficult, because people thought I knew the answers," he says. "As a former player it really breaks my heart how far we've fallen."
After leading Clemson to its only national title, Tuttle spent three seasons in the NFL, with the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons. In 1986 he caught on with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, and in six seasons with Winnipeg he caught 321 passes for 5,817 yards and 41 touchdowns, earning a place in the Blue Bombers' Hall of Fame. After retiring from the CFL in 1992, Tuttle returned to North Carolina and started a sports marketing firm. He and his wife, Loretta, live in Charlotte with their sons Korde, 8, and Kanyon Maxwell, 18 months, and daughters Karsynn, 6, and Karigan Rose, 3. A fifth Tuttle, due in May, will be named Kallaway—boy or girl.
To preserve the memories of his college career for his children, Perry maintains a treasure chest of items from the 1982 Orange Bowl. The contents of the box include his jersey, cleats and mouthpiece; a videotape of the game; a program; and, of course, a fading copy of a magazine with a country boy from Clemson on the cover.