It has been a long, long time coming for these two men but now both have been bestowed the highest honor the Clemson University Athletics Department can give...the Clemson Ring of Honor. Both will be honored this fall during and football season. Wilhelm will also be honored during the baseball season.
Here are the criteria for being awarded such a prestigious honor by Clemson University:
The Ring of Honor is the highest award bestowed by the Clemson athletic department. An inductee must be a member of the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame, have an undergraduate degree from a four-year institution and have made a significant impact on the heritage of Clemson athletic history.
As you well know, both of these men are legends in the upstate. Wilhelm coached 36 years of Tiger Baseball, bringing the program to national attention with routine ACC crowns and trips to Omaha. Wilhelm, at the time of his retirement, I believe was the winningest coach in College Baseball history. His achievements and what he meant to the university and the baseball program cannot be fully and completely described in such a short period of blog space.
Coach Ford, as you all know, is very, very highly thought of here at STS and around the Clemson community. His pedestal is so high in our opinion that you need an airplane ride just to see the top of it. Coach Ford led the 1981 Clemson football team to a 12-0 record and the school's first National Championship after defeating Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl Classic. Over the years, Ford racked up 96 wins for our Alma Mater while delivering conference title after conference title. The Ford years were truly the Golden Era of Clemson football. When you watch those teams play you realize a couple things: 1. The man recruited grade A talent. We had players on top of players back then. 2. Those teams were well coached. Ford insisted that his men would be prepared and would not make fundamental mistakes during a football game. 3. His teams were tough as freaking nails. You ask the guys who played under Ford and they'll tell you that his regular practices were tougher than any game they played in. In return, those guys were flat out tougher than the guys on the other side of the football.
I could go on and on about Coach Ford (and I am sure that both myself and Dr. B will take this opportunity to do so repeatedly over the next couple months). I can tell you how good his teams were. I can tell you all the stories I've heard about how great a person he is. I surely can tell you how much I respect the man. And you can bet you'll hear all these items on repeat as the season draws close and that Big Orange Block "C" hat gets placed on the side of Death Valley where it rightfully belongs. Hopefully the powers that be will go another step and give the man a statue...he damn sure deserves it.