The Tale of the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy

Remember Montel Harris? The guy who holds the school’s rushing record, the guy who finished his collegiate career at Temple under a guy by the name of Steve Addazio -- that guy?

Well, in 2010, Harris posed for an iconic photo donning a gold jellyfish on his head. That gold jellyfish was actually the prize Boston College earned for defeating Clemson 16-10 after Harris rushed for 142 yards and caught the game-winning 36-yard touchdown pass. That gold jellyfish is actually a gold leather helmet awarded to the MVP of the BC vs. Clemson match-up since 2008.

In 2008, the Boston College Gridiron Club created the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy to honor the relationship of Boston College and Clemson that dates back 70 years. The winner of the BC vs. Clemson game receives the trophy along with a gold leather helmet given to the MVP of the game.

Charlie O'Rourke Alumni Stadium

Photo by Brett Ciancia/Gavel Media

The trophy is named after Charlie O’Rourke and Banks McFadden, who played during the leather helmet era. O’Rourke was a quarterback for Boston College between 1938-40, and led the Eagles to 26 wins and three losses in his three years, including the “Perfect Season” of 1940. McFadden is regarded as the best athlete in Clemson history. During his time at Clemson, McFadden lettered in three sports -- football, basketball and track -- and won the Associated Press “Athlete of the Year” in 1939. Both O’Rourke and McFadden were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

After the 1939 regular season, O’Rourke and McFadden squared off in the 1940 Cotton Bowl with BC heavily favored to win. Clemson defeated BC 6-3, and thus began the friendly rivalry that continues today. Before 2008 and the induction of the O’Rourke-McFadden trophy, BC led the series against Clemson, 8-7. Since then, BC has only defeated Clemson once, giving the series edge to Clemson 11-9 as the Eagles head down to South Carolina.

It was the 2010 matchup between BC and Clemson that symbolized the end of the glory days for the BC football program. It was the turning point of the season for BC, a season that saw them lose five straight and have a record of 2-5 before defeating Clemson for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy and led to BC winning their next four games to finish 7-5, before losing to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

As many SuperFans know, football just hasn’t been the same for BC.

In the last game between Clemson and BC, Clemson defeated BC, 45-31 on Parents' Weekend. Tajh Boyd was named the MVP and thus earned the golden leather helmet and Clemson, for the second year in a row, brought back the trophy and helmet to South Carolina. Boyd is being discussed for another trophy, the Heisman Trophy, this season and with Clemson ranked No. 3 in the country, BC is going to be walking into “Death Valley” facing a very tough task.

But with a new era brightly shining at BC and coming off of two solid performances against Florida State and Army, BC could be the spoiler in Clemson’s pursuit of a National Championship.

Hey, everyone thought O’Rourke and BC were going to roll past McFadden and Clemson in 1940.

Why can’t the underdogs reign supreme again?

Why not us?

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