SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2019) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame today recognized Clemson (15-0) as the recipient of the 2018 NFF MacArthur Bowl Championship Trophy following their 44-16 victory over Alabama (14-1) yesterday in the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Presented by AT&T before a crowd of 74,814 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
“On behalf of the National Football Foundation, our 12,000 members and our board of directors, and Chairman Archie Manning, we are extremely proud to recognize Coach Swinney and the Tigers,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “This trophy was started in 1959 by General Douglas MacArthur, Grantland Rice, the great sports writer and legendary coach Red Blaik, and etched on the side of this stadium replica in all silver are all of the subsequent national champions. As the keepers of the history and the legacy of the sport of football, we are exceptionally pleased to etch this Clemson team on its walls.”
Clemson’s name will be etched alongside the greatest teams in college football history for the third time overall on the MacArthur Bowl, which is housed at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. An event honoring the team will take place at the Hall during the spring. Clemson becomes the first college football team to finish 15-0 since the 1800s, and the first team during the five seasons of the CFP to go undefeated.
“This team was special from day one. Our leadership, our focus, our commitment, but I’m so happy for all these guys, our staff, our fans, our administration, our former players,” Swinney said during the post-game press conference. “Our guys had the eye of the tiger, but I’m so proud, and then for our seniors to be able to go out 15-0 and truly be the best ever – there was a lot of talk about best ever all year long. We were never in that conversation. But tonight, there’s no doubt.”
Swinney’s 2018 Tigers were led by freshman QB Trevor Lawrence, who passed for three touchdowns and 347 yards and claimed the game’s Most Valuable Player on offense. He had no interceptions and completed 20-of-32 of his passes while also rushing six times for 27 yards. Clemson WR Justyn Ross had six catches for 153 yards, including a grab in third quarter that resulted in a 74-yard touchdown. Tiger RB Travis Etienne rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Junior DB Trayvon Mullen, who intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards early in the game, collected Defensive MVP honors. He also tallied six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
The impressive group of seniors on the team included three time All-American DL Christian Wilkins, who in early December claimed the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy® as the nation’s top scholar-athlete. Swinney mentioned the trophy multiple times during the night after the victory.
“All these seniors, this is an amazing group of people. I told them in the locker room, I can’t wait 20 years from now to get together and see what this group of young people do in life. They’re going to dominate life,” said Swinney. “We had 66 guys make a 3.0 or better. That was a school record, shattered the record. Everything they’ve done, they’ve like gone above and beyond… We had 26 graduates, the most of any bowl team. We won the AFCA academic award, we won the Campbell Trophy, and we won the National Championship on the field. And man, it’s just been unbelievable. These are some of the most dynamic young people you’re ever going to meet in the world.”
With the win, Clemson claims the MacArthur Bowl for the third time in the school’s history. The Tigers previously won the MacArthur Bowl in 1981 under College Football Hall of Fame coach Danny Ford and again in 2016 under Swinney. A team in the current ACC has now claimed the trophy 12 times.
Presented to every national champion since 1959, the MacArthur Bowl represents the pinnacle of team achievement in college sports, and each year during its 60-year history a new name has been etched alongside the greatest teams of all time. The trophy, a replica of a football stadium, features archways with space to engrave the names of 100 teams and miniature goal posts. The trophy was the gift of an anonymous donor, who commissioned Tiffany & Co. to craft it from 400 ounces of silver, in honor of NFF founder General Douglas A. MacArthur. It took eight months to make, and the trophy features MacArthur’s famous quote: “There is no substitute for victory.”
Twenty-four different schools have claimed the trophy at least once during its 60-year history. Alabama has hoisted it the most, claiming it an unprecedented eight times. Notre Dame is second with five wins while Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Southern California and Texas have each etched their names four times on the trophy. Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska and Oklahoma each boast being three-time recipients. LSU, Michigan State and Penn State have each won the trophy twice.
During college football’s Poll Era, the NFF MacArthur Bowl Committee selected the recipient of the trophy. With the advent of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998, the national championship game has determined which team claimed the MacArthur Bowl, a tradition that will continue with the adoption of the College Football Playoff.
First presented in 1959, NFF National Champions and MacArthur Bowl recipients include: Syracuse 1959, Minnesota 1960, Alabama 1961, Southern California 1962, Texas 1963, Notre Dame 1964, Michigan State 1965, Michigan State/Notre Dame 1966, Southern California 1967, Ohio State 1968, Texas 1969, Ohio State/Texas 1970, Nebraska 1971, Southern California 1972, Notre Dame 1973, Southern California 1974, Oklahoma 1975, Pittsburgh 1976, Notre Dame 1977, Alabama 1978, Alabama 1979, Georgia 1980, Clemson 1981, Penn State 1982, Miami (FL) 1983, Brigham Young 1984, Oklahoma 1985, Penn State 1986, Miami (FL) 1987, Notre Dame 1988, Miami (FL) 1989, Colorado 1990, Washington 1991, Alabama 1992, Florida State 1993, Nebraska 1994, Nebraska 1995, Florida 1996, Michigan 1997, Tennessee 1998, Florida State 1999, Oklahoma 2000, Miami (FL) 2001, Ohio State 2002, Louisiana State 2003, Vacated 2004, Texas 2005, Florida 2006, LSU 2007, Florida 2008, Alabama 2009, Auburn 2010, Alabama 2011, Alabama 2012, Florida State 2013, Ohio State 2014, Alabama 2015, Clemson 2016, Alabama 2017 and Clemson in 2018.