January 14, 2022
The grandson of Italian immigrants on both sides, Bill D'Andrea grew up in a small Pennsylvania town and neither of his parents made it through high school because of difficult circumstances.
D'Andrea always thought that upbringing allowed him to connect with the athletes he oversaw in the 1990s as the head of Vickery Hall, the pioneering academic-support system for Clemson's athletes.
D'Andrea did it all during his professional career, including coaching under Danny Ford and athletics administration in leading IPTAY and as Terry Don Phillips' right-hand man when Clemson was making major decisions including the hires of Dabo Swinney, Oliver Purnell and Brad Brownell.
D'Andrea has worked to serve his community since retirement, and now he's serving as a municipal judge in Central.
D'Andrea joins the podcast to talk about his long and fascinating story while giving his take on the seismic changes afoot in college athletics including Name, Image and Likeness and the transfer portal.
D'Andrea recalls being in the room in November of 2010 when, after a second consecutive loss to South Carolina, he and Swinney thought Terry Don Phillips was about to fire the Tigers' second-year head coach (they were both surprised when Phillips said "I've never believed in you more than I do right now," and Clemson took off the next year on a streak of 10-win seasons that has continued to this day).
D'Andrea was also in the room when Swinney almost quit before he'd even coached a game as Clemson's official, non-interim coach.
You read that right: In December of 2009, not long after he'd gotten the job, Swinney was angry Clemson wasn't committing more money to the football program and he almost walked. That's how D'Andrea remembers it.
January 10, 2022
In the midst of last week's big news that Nick Eason is returning to his alma mater to join Dabo Swinney's staff, we visit with two of the most important figures in Eason's life.
Rick Stockstill was the primary Clemson recruiter of Eason in the late 1990s, and even as bigger schools began courting him Eason was loyal to Stockstill and the first school that offered him.
Stockstill recalls the type of person Eason was during his time at Clemson, and the man he's become since as a longtime NFL player, NFL assistant and now a college coach.
Bryant McNeal and Eason were in the same recruiting class at Clemson and instantly became close friends. Later they were both drafted by the Denver Broncos and spent their first year there as roommates.
McNeal, now an assistant football coach and head girls basketball coach at Swansea High School, shares how Eason blossomed in college both academically and as a devotee of community service.
"Our first summer here, we had just finished August camp and Nick's like: 'Come with me over to Central to visit with this little-league football team,'" McNeal recalled. "He just loves people, and he loved doing community service both when we were at Clemson and also when we were in Denver."
December 28, 2021
In December of 2010, Tulsa's football team was in Hawaii going through pre-practice stretching in preparation for the Hawaii Bowl.
First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris walked past Tyler Carlton and casually asked: "You want to come with me to Clemson?"
Carlton, a native of Oklahoma and a former player and support staffer at Tulsa, left with Morris when Dabo Swinney hired him to breathe life back into Clemson's offense.
Carlton, now the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wofford, said the four years he spent at Clemson changed his life in many ways including the impact of working under and learning life lessons from Dabo Swinney.
During that time Carlton also became close with a support staffer named Wesley Goodwin. The two were roommates, and they spent the wee hours of many nights watching film cut-ups of the old Bill Belichick and Nick Saban defenses. Goodwin is now the co-defensive coordinator and chief play-caller after the departure of Brent Venables to Oklahoma.
Carlton takes an entertaining trip down memory lane, recalling vivid memories of a Clemson program transitioning from good to great.
December 24, 2021
In the fall of 2018, Dabo Swinney allowed Tigerillustrated.com to be a fly on the McFadden Building walls as he returned to Clemson's old football offices to reminisce.
This was part of a series on the 10th anniversary of the tumultuous day in October of 2008 when Tommy Bowden was out and Swinney was in on an interim basis.
Not many people thought Swinney was head-coaching material, but Terry Don Phillips gambled and hit the most important jackpot in Clemson sports history.
Swinney won the job that fall, and years later orchestrated one of the most remarkable stories in college football history by elevating the Tigers to a six-year stay on college football's mountaintop.
This is the raw audio from our recording that day following Swinney around the old football offices. At the time, Swinney was trying to hold it all together after Kelly Bryant left the team and Trevor Lawrence suffered a shoulder injury in his first start against Syracuse.
The 2018 Tigers ended up finding their groove with Lawrence and rampaging to their second national title in three years.
December 17, 2021
Berry Tramel is the most respected media voice regarding the Oklahoma Sooners, and David Teel the same with the Virginia Cavaliers.
The two decorated newspaper columnists join the podcast to reflect on Brent Venables becoming the head coach at Oklahoma and Tony Elliott the head coach at Virginia.
Tramel developed a relationship with Venables at his first stop in Norman, a 13-year run as a defensive assistant under Bob Stoops. He says one of the most interesting themes will be how Venables makes the adjustment from fire-breathing defensive coordinator to a head-coaching role that demands a more measured and organized approach.
In July of 2018, Teel was invited to observe and write about the NCAA Champion Forum, a career development program for accomplished minority assistant coaches. Elliott was among the participants, and it struck Teel then that he had all the makings of a head coach.
“There are four categories where I think [student-athletes] have got to have equal development,” Elliott told Teel that day, “and that’s their athletics, their academics, their social and the spiritual. You have to create a program that has access to all those areas and have the resources in place.”
To illustrate his model, Elliott cited Wayne Gallman, a linebacker he recruited out of Atlanta and converted to running back. Gallman became Clemson’s career rushing leader and his family’s first college graduate.
“He’s playing in the NFL,” Elliott said, “and he’s equipped with the tools for life to go out and be a champion man beyond the game of football.”
Teel says Elliott's biggest challenge will be galvanizing the community and inspiring supporters to do something that hasn't been done in a long time -- consistently fill Scott Stadium.
December 11, 2021
Ben Boulware is in a state of mourning after learning Brent Venables is no longer at Clemson.
Boulware, who played linebacker at Clemson from 2013 to 2016, was the quintessential Venables player while helping lead the Tigers from being really good to national-championship great.
Boulware gives his thoughts on how Dabo Swinney is planning to replace Venables, and whether he even can be replaced.
He also shares some priceless memories from his time at Clemson, including seeing the "white foam" that accumulated in the corners of Venables mouth during games because of his constant screaming.
Boulware also shares behind-the-scenes details of him elevating his leadership in the days before the 2016 national title game against Alabama. A year before, casual attitudes from a few defensive players were recognized as significant factors in the Tigers' 45-40 loss to the Crimson Tide. Boulware took charge and demanded total buy-in from every single player on defense with the Tigers gathered in Tampa and preparing for the rematch with the Nick Saban dynasty.
Boulware gives a window into his personal life and says he's done a lot of growing over the past couple years. He considers himself a businessman now, running The Junkyard fitness center that is about to open another location at the old Astro Theater in downtown Clemson.
December 3, 2021
Matt Bockhorst, who is undergoing surgery today to repair the ACL he tore against Pittsburgh on Oct. 23, joins the podcast for an in-depth conversation about the end of his football career.
Bockhorst also reflects on the evolution of the 2021 team, which was once 4-3 but has won five consecutive games as the offense has gained consistency, cohesion and confidence.
Early in the season, Bockhorst was one of the few personalities on offense who was willing to speak up and lead vocally. But he learned that sometimes yelling and screaming doesn't work and a more gentle, positive form of leadership is needed.
Bockhorst is from Ohio, but his entire family has fallen in love with Clemson and the surrounding area. His older brother played football at Furman, and his younger brother is at Clemson. Their parents also have a home on Lake Keowee.
Growing up, Bockhorst dreamed of playing for Notre Dame and was recruited by the Irish. But on a visit to South Bend for a night game against Southern Cal, he and the family realized that Brian Kelly's staff wasn't as interested in him as they once thought. His path led to Clemson, and in the wake of Kelly's abrupt departure for LSU it's more confirmation to Bockhorst that he made the right move to join Dabo Swinney's culture.
December 1, 2021
He's an attorney who has amassed 34,600 followers on Twitter for scouring message boards and screen-capping the bizarre, inane and crazy things said by college football fans.
He has a wife and two daughters, and his family has no clue about the Twitter side project called Message Board Geniuses (@BoardGeniuses).
"They just think I'm on my phone doing something," he said.
He prefers being anonymous, so he went by the name "Pete" during this interview. He said he attended college at Utah State and at the time wondered by fans were so irrational on message boards.
Then "Pete" started looking at message board for other schools across the country and discovered there's crazy stuff everywhere posted by people who are obsessively following a sport.
"It's literally the same type of people on every message board," he said. "You have this contingent of people who are always negative no matter what happens. And then on the other side you have this contingent of people who get offended by the slightest bit of negativity. And they're always fighting with each other. No fan base is really less reasonable or rational than anybody else's."
The profile picture for Pete's feed says #FireEverybody. He's in front of his television on most fall Saturdays, and he knows a meltdown on the field is going to quickly be followed by one on that team's message boards.
"I get a kick out of it," he said. "It's funny. I hope people understand it's all in good fun to see some of the crazy stuff that's out there, and appreciate it and laugh at it. I do quite a bit."
November 18, 2021
Patrick Sapp, former Clemson Tiger and father of Tigers tight end commitment Josh Sapp, joins the podcast to reflect on what it's been like to go through the recruiting process with his son.
Sapp also gives his detailed thoughts on the rapid spiral of Clemson's offense and the various factors behind it. The former Clemson quarterback was as caught off guard by anyone by DJ Uiagalelei's pronounced struggles, and he wonders how much Uiagalelei's endorsement deals with Dr. Pepper and Bojangles have contributed to the pressures on his shoulders as the sophomore tries to walk in the footsteps of Trevor Lawrence.
Sapp gives his perspective on how much more difficult Dabo Swinney's job is now in an age of the transfer portal and players capitalizing on endorsement deals.
Sapp is the quarterbacks coach for his son's Greenville High School team that faces Irmo on Friday night in the 4A state playoffs.
November 12, 2021
Lindell Zanders, father of Clemson safety Lannden Zanders, joins the podcast to share the deeply personal story of the family's home burning down last month in Shelby, N.C.
Lannden was home alone at the time, and an ember from a back-yard fire pit ended up catching the back porch on fire and then leading to the house. Lindell said he spent $200,000 to build the house 20 years ago, and now to build the same house it would cost $450,000 because of various factors including the cost of lumber.
Lannden slept through the fire, and his life was saved when the fire department turned the power off to the home. Lannden was thus awakened when his fan turned off; the fire department personnel had no idea anyone was inside the home as it burned down.
The family was angered and hurt by various headlines that mischaracterized Lannden's role in starting the fire. The worst was from aggregation-based site FanSided, whose headline was: "Clemson football player obsessed with fire accidentally burns family home down."
Lindell has remarkable perspective and peace of mind from the life-changing event. He said he's yet to even shed a tear over losing his home, as he said he is grateful that he still has his two sons.
The family has recently benefited from various GoFundMe efforts, and now Lindell is seeing a reciprocation of the giving spirit he has instilled in his boys throughout their lives.
Lindell grew up homeless at times in Florida as his father succumbed to heroin addiction and his mother struggled to get by. He remembers being happy to land in homeless shelters as a child because they had running water and electricity.
As he raised his boys, Lindell regularly took them to homeless shelters and visited children's hospitals to bring gifts and help those in need.
Lannden is currently sitting out the 2021 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. His brother Quenten is a junior running back at Western Carolina.