Thirty-five years ago, a punch was thrown that was seen throughout the college football world. The two schools involved in that infamous incident will meet again today at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The 1978 Gator Bowl marked the only time, until today, that Clemson University and Ohio State met. In that game, one coach was lifted in victory and another’s career ended.
It was Danny Ford’s first game as Clemson’s head coach and Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes’ last. Hayes was fired as the Buckeyes’ head coach for punching Clemson back Charlie Baumann after an interception ended Ohio State’s chances of a victory over the Clemson Tigers.
That date was Dec. 28, 1978.
An Orangeburg man knows exactly day the game was played. He has the Clemson Tiger calendar to prove it.
James Moses Jr. has collected football memorabilia for nearly 60 years and has a collection that spans the ages and teams.
“I’m a football fanatic,” Moses said. “I love football.”
Part of Moses’ collection is the 1978 Clemson Tiger calendar — not that unusual except for the signature at the top of it. The calendar was autographed by legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard.
Moses’ collection of football memorabilia dates back to the 1930s, he says. Many of the items are from South Carolina State, including a small flyer advertising a 1954 home game.
Moses played for S.C. State in the mid-1950s. One of his teammates was future coach and College Football Hall of Famer Willie Jeffries.
Moses’ love of football moved him to save the 1978 Clemson calendar and other Clemson memorabilia from more than 30 years ago.
He said when a friend of his who was a big Clemson fan passed away about 20 years ago, the man’s wife asked for help clearing out items including assorted football treasures.
“She didn’t want to take it so I said I’ll take it,” he said.
In addition to the calendar, Moses wound up with two hand fans from the 1981 National Championship Orange Bowl game, a Danny Ford-signed Tiger doll and a small helmet autographed by National Championship quarterback Homer Jordan.
Initially, Moses thought he had simply picked up some football-related items he could place in his barbershop, along with the S.C. State and South Carolina collection. Then he saw the autographs.
“That’s when I really held on to it,” he said.
The 77-year-old has memorabilia from many teams, including Clemson and Carolina. When it comes to the annual Tiger-Gamecock gridiron battle, Moses says he knew too many players on both squads to side with one or the other.
“I kind of straddle the fence on that one,” he said.
The longtime Orangeburg barber recalls the mass of traffic on U.S. 21 going to a Big Thursday game in Columbia.
“And up that big hill, cars would stall and you’d have to get out and push them,” he said, laughing.
When the Tigers and Buckeyes were selected to meet again in this year’s Orange Bowl, Moses remembered his stash of Clemson souvenirs. They serve as a reminder of the heady days of a Gator Bowl victory over Ohio State that would launch Clemson to a national championship three years later in the Orange Bowl.
He’s had requests for some of his souvenirs, but Moses said he doesn‘t part with much, if anything. He said it would take a mountain to make the memorabilia move from his possession.
“Oh, yeah. Yes, sir!” he said, emphasizing his attachment to his college football treasures.