The Orange Bowl announced today that it will induct former Clemson head coach Danny Ford, Michael Irvin and Spencer Tillman in the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame presented by Deloitte as the Class of 2011. The class of 2011 will be inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame at the AvMed Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon presented by Deloitte at Jungle Island in Miami on January 3, 2012. Ford, who led Clemson to its only National Championship following the 1982 Orange Bowl, becomes the second coach and third Tiger to be recognized. Irvin, the Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver, becomes the 12th Hurricane to be honored after Bennie Blades was inducted last year. Tillman, the running back and captain of the 1985 National Champion Oklahoma team, joins 10 other Sooners in the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame presented by Deloitte.
Ford was the head coach at Clemson from 1979-89 and compiled a 96-29-4 overall record while leading the Tigers to the national championship in 1981. The championship campaign concluded at the Orange Bowl as Ford led the Tigers to a 22-15 victory over No. 4 Nebraska and a perfect 12-0 season. Clemson began the 1981 season unranked before defeating three top-10 teams. The Tigers entered the Orange Bowl with a No. 1 national ranking and on the verge of their first national championship ever. A stiff defense limited the Cornhuskers' famed option offense, powering Clemson to a 22-15 win. Ford continued his coaching career as the head coach at Arkansas from 1993-97.
Irvin was a three-year starter at Miami and one of the most decorated wide receivers of all-time. Playing for coach Jimmy Johnson, Irvin helped the Hurricanes win the 1987 National Championship by defeating Oklahoma, 20-14, in the 1988 Orange Bowl. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native had four receptions for 57 yards including a critical 23-yard touchdown grab with 2:31 remaining in the third quarter to put the Hurricanes up 17-7. Irvin left Miami as the career record holder in catches (143), receiving yards (2,423) and touchdown receptions (26). In the 1988 NFL Draft, Irvin was selected 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. After reuniting with Coach Jimmy Johnson, Irvin helped the Cowboys win Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Two years later, Irvin and the Cowboys did it again, winning their third Super Bowl in four years. The wide out retired after 12 seasons – all of them in Dallas – recording 750 receptions, 11,904 receiving yards and 65 touchdowns in his career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Tillman was an All-American running back at the University of Oklahoma and led the Sooners to the 1986 National Championship, with a 25-10 win over Penn State in the Orange Bowl. In the 1987 Orange Bowl, Tillman rushed for 109 yards on seven carries and scored two touchdowns. During that game, Tillman recorded the 13th longest scoring play in Orange Bowl history with a 77 yard touchdown run and was named the game's Most Outstanding Player. Tillman rushed for 168 yards in his three Orange Bowl appearances, the ninth best mark in Classic history. During his playing career, he received several awards including Big Eight Newcomer of the Year and UPI Player of the Year in the Big Eight Conference following the 1982 season. Tillman went on to a seven-year NFL career with the Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers. In 1999, he joined CBS Sports as lead studio analyst for College Football Today.
Two conference champions, No. 15 Clemson and No. 23 West Virginia, will meet in the 78th Discover Orange Bowl on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. Clemson (10-3, 6-2 ACC) earned the ACC's automatic berth in the Discover Orange Bowl following its 38-10 victory over No. 5 Virginia Tech in the seventh annual Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game. The Tigers will be making their fourth Orange Bowl appearance. West Virginia (9-3, 5-2 Big East) is making its first appearance in the Discover Orange Bowl and earned the Big East's automatic BCS bid by virtue of a three way tie-breaker with Cincinnati and Louisville. This is the second meeting all-time between the Tigers and Mountaineers. The two teams previously squared off in the 1989 Gator Bowl. Clemson earned a 27-7 victory over West Virginia.
Information provided by the Orange Bowl Committee.