SI Vault
Curry Kirkpatrick
October 23, 1989
You still might not be able to find it, but football and ol' Frank Howard have put Clemson on the map
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October 23, 1989


You still might not be able to find it, but football and ol' Frank Howard have put Clemson on the map

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It was way back there in the state of Alabama, when ol' Frank Howard was coaching baseball at the insane asylum which was right next door to the university in Tuscaloosa, that one of the patients—it may have been his centerfielder—came galloping by on a broomstick. Giddyap. Giddyap. This guy said he was Jesus Christ his-self, but another ol' boy told Frank not to worry about it.

"That ol' boy is crazy," he said.

"How can you tell, buddy?" ol' Frank said.

"'Cause ever'body knows there's only but one Jesus," that other of' boy said. "And I'm him."

The thing about it is, there isn't much difference between Alabama, where ol' Frank played even before his lifetime friend, ol' Bear Bryant, got to school there, and Clemson, where ol' Frank went on to be an honest-to-golleee coach in 1931 and stayed until...until....

Well, he's still there, by gawd, chewin' and spittin' and snarlin' nearly six decades later about how Bear wanted to come be his assistant coach back in the early '40s. "Smartest thing I ever did, buddy, not hirin' that sweet ol' Bear," says ol' Frank (referring to the sweet ol' Bear, understand, only by the first letters of that sobriquet). "He would have done grabbed my whiskey hisself, took my woman, cut my throat, drunk my blood and had us on probation for life, that's all."

Actually, the difference between Tuscaloosa and the foothills of South Carolina was this: At Alabama the coaches were always playing for the national championship. At Clemson they were trying to whip teams like Erskine and The Citadel and Wofford and Newberry. (That feisty little guitar player, Lee Atwater, would learn to be a feisty little Republican at feisty little Newberry.) When Clemson lost to Wofford 14-13 in 1933, ol' Frank, then an assistant to Jess Neely, had had just about enough. Along with Neely and some Clemson alumni, he started a fund-raising organization to build up the football program—even though nobody around Clemson had what you might call funds to be raised. All the same, when ol' Frank and his friends came up with their club called IPTAY—I Pay Ten A Year—the cotton farmer and the truck driver, the grocery clerk and the gas jockey, the preacher and the housewife all responded.

Well, who wouldn't? You can take the corn out of the country....

IPTAY had secret names: The president, vice-president and secretary of the club bore the titles of Bengal Tiger, Persian Tiger and Sumatra Tiger. IPTAY had mysterious acronyms: Circling the club crest were the letters GOCAMS (Giving Our Clemson All My Support) and WDWE (When Do We Eat). Moreover, the head coach—soon enough, in 1940, of Frank hisself—was to be known as the Exalted IRYAAS (I Received Yours and Acknowledge Same).

But you can't take the country....

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