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The Paws Have Given Cause For Pause
Alexander Wolff
November 16, 1981
Clemson, spurred on by its ubiquitous logo and unyielding defense, beat North Carolina to stay undefeated and bound for a major bowl
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November 16, 1981

The Paws Have Given Cause For Pause

Clemson, spurred on by its ubiquitous logo and unyielding defense, beat North Carolina to stay undefeated and bound for a major bowl

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But Clemson had a neophyte of its own playing on Saturday, and he merely won the game. Igwebuike is on loan from the soccer team, and immediately after the game at Chapel Hill, he flew up to Maryland, where, on Sunday, he started at midfield as the Tiger soccer team—ranked third in the nation—defeated the Terps 4-0 to win the ACC title. Igwebuike had a rocky spring football practice, partly because of the pressure of replacing countryman Obed Ariri, who set seven and tied two NCAA kicking records last season, and partly because he simply didn't understand the rules. He knew he was supposed to kick the ball far, but thought that, on kickoffs, the ball couldn't cross the end line.

He has it straight now, though, and boots all long field goals—he's 7 for 11 this year—and kickoffs. Crowds don't faze him. "When my club was engaged in continental soccer matches in Lagos, we would play in front of 80,000 or 90,000 people," he says. "When I first came to Clemson two years ago, someone showed me the football field. I didn't know they meant American football. The goalposts looked strange." But, like everyone else, he was enchanted by Clemson's logo. "I saw these paws on the road," he says, "and I liked them."

Unlike other ACC schools, Clemson has always wanted to make its mark in football more than in basketball, so it has a measure of tradition in the sport. But there is also a touch of the arriviste. Davis holds many of the strength records in the five-year-old, $250,000 weight room equipped with 26 Nautilus machines. The IPTAY Club, the private athletic scholarship fund-raising organization, is the largest of its kind; a record 15,000 belong even though inflation has changed the acronym from standing for I Pay Ten a Year to I Pay Thirty a Year. And, perhaps inevitably, the NCAA enforcement people have been on campus recently, looking into allegations of improprieties brought against Clemson by a couple of would-be recruits.

Clemson would love a national championship before any bad news gets handed down, but first the Tigers must remain unbeaten and win a bowl game. A Greenville radio station's poll revealed the fans' favorite bowl to be, like everything else, Orange. Miami is relatively nearby, and the game has the prestige of being played on New Year's Day.

But so is the Fiesta Bowl, which the athletic department is leaning toward. It pays well and, being 1,800 miles away in Tempe, Ariz., would alleviate some of the inevitable ticket problems. Even the fans would accept it if, say, an undefeated Pitt was the opponent.

"Our seniors are going to decide where we go, and they won't vote until after the Maryland [this Saturday] and South Carolina [Nov. 21] games," says Ford. "If there were five other undefeated football teams in the country, we wouldn't have this attention. But until someone proves otherwise, we hold the future in our own hands." Or paws, as the case may be.

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