Ford is one of three coaches in the 2017 Hall of Fame class. He will be joined by former Duke, Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and former Mount Union Coach Larry Kehres.
Ford is the fourth former Clemson head coach to be named to the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame. The others are John Heisman, Jess Neely, and Frank Howard. Former Clemson players in the Hall of Fame are Banks McFadden, Terry Kinard and Jeff Davis.
Ford coached Clemson from 1978-89 and posted a record of 96-29-4. The highlight of his Clemson tenure took place in 1981 when the Tigers posted a 12-0 record and defeated Nebraska, 22-15, in the 1982 Orange Bowl to win the school’s first National Championship.
Monday night Clemson will attempt to duplicate the accomplishment of Ford’s team by defeating Alabama in Tampa, Florida in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Ford was just 33 years, seven months and 30 days at the time of the win over Nebraska and he is still the youngest coach to win the National Championship
Ford was just 30 years old when he took over as Clemson Head Coach in December of 1978. In his first game he defeated Hall of Fame Coach Woody Hayes and Ohio State, 17-15, in the 1978 Gator Bowl. In 1979 he coached Clemson to a 16-10 victory at Notre Dame, and he is still the second youngest coach to win at Notre Dame Stadium over the Fighting Irish.
Clemson had an 86-25-4 record in the 1980s and the .765 winning percentage was the fifth best in college football. The other nine coaches in the top 10 in winning percentage in that decade are all in the Hall of Fame.
Ford was especially effective in bowl games as he posted a 6-2 record. Five of the six wins were over coaches already in the Hall of Fame, including Hayes, Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Joe Paterno of Penn State and Barry Switzer of Oklahoma, all coaches who won the National Championship. Ford was 23-8-1 head-to-head as Clemson head coach against coaches who are already in the Hall of Fame. That includes a 2-1 record against Hall of Fame classmate Steve Spurrier.
In his 11 full years as Clemson head coach, Ford won five ACC Championships and had seven top 25 teams. He coached 21 different players who earned All-American honors. Many of his players went on to fame in the NFL, including 10 who combined to win 13 Super Bowl Championships.
The 1969 Alabama graduate is third in ACC history in career winning percentage with a .760 mark. Ford is a member of the Clemson Hall of Fame and was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor in 2013.