Clemson Tiger Athletics: The Man Behind The Mic

Mar 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; A detailed view of a microphone at the media table during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men
Mar 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; A detailed view of a microphone at the media table during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men /

For 36 years Jim Phillips was the voice of Clemson Tiger Athletics. Recognition of that fact is long overdue.

When I was a kid, I watched the Atlanta Braves as often as I could. Most every Braves game was televised back then on TBS. I suffered through the “Dale Murphy years” as most of us die-hard Braves fans did, however, this isn’t a Braves website, so hang in there and I’ll get to my point.

When I was a kid, I’d turn the volume down in my room and I’d pretend to be calling the game. I’d pretend to be Skip Carey, Joe Simpson or Don Sutton. As young as I was, I had an affinity for the art of calling a game.

One of my hero’s, naturally, was Jim Phillips. He was the voice of my Tigers.

I’d begrudgingly have to help cut wood, work in the yard, or do whatever chore was lined up for me on a Saturday morning, and I’d rush to get finished so I could listen to the Tigers play.

You see, for those of you under 30 years old, most games were NOT televised. You had to actually listen to the games on the radio. To this day I can close my eyes and hear Jim Phillips describe the crowd, the field, and a long run broken down the sideline by Terry Allen or Ronald Williams.

I can hear the octave of his voice increase as Rodney Williams was rolling out to his right and had an open receiver down field.

Jim Phillips’s voice, emulating from a concrete press box high above Death Valley, carried over FM air waves to a truck radio or a small “boom box” will not only be forever etched in my mind, but it will be a huge part of my childhood.

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Jim Phillips was Clemson.

His voice was what you associated with Clemson athletics. As much as Deshaun Watson is the face of Clemson football now, Jim Phillips was the voice of the Tigers, for 36 years.

Phillips came to Clemson in 1968 and broadcasted his first Tiger football game on September 21, 1968, a 20-20 tie between Clemson and Wake Forest. Phillips would broadcast his 400th Clemson football game on August 20, 2003 against Georgia, just over a week before his tragic death.

He was the only ACC play-by-play announcer to broadcast his school’s football, basketball, baseball, and women’s basketball games. Over his career, he broadcasted over 2,000 Clemson sporting events.

Phillips also served as host of the Clemson football and basketball coach’s shows for many years. He broadcasted his 1000th Clemson men’s basketball game at the 2002 ACC Tournament in Charlotte.

He missed only one broadcast of a Clemson men’s basketball game in Littlejohn Coliseum during his time at Clemson, a period of almost 35 years.

Phillips was one of the most honored broadcasters in his field. He was a five-time recipient of the South Carolina Broadcaster of the Year award. In 1992 he was presented the Master Broadcaster Award by the South Carolina Association of Broadcasters, the highest honor presented by that organization.

In 1998, he received the Skeeter Francis Award from the Atlantic Coast Conference Sportwriters Association for his contributions to ACC athletics. He was the first radio personality to receive the award.

Phillips was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1992. He passed away in September of 2003, just days after calling Clemson vs. Furman football game.

I said all of that to say this. Why is Jim Phillips’ name not on the Ring of Honor inside Clemson Memorial Stadium?

I do understand that the radio booth is now called the “Jim Phillips Pressbox,” but that’s not good enough. He deserves more.

His family deserves more and 35 years of loyal listeners deserve more. A mic, his name, and 68′-03′, on the Ring of Honor with Clemson Legends like Danny Ford, Bob Bradley, Banks McFadden and Jeff Davis is the only fitting way to give closure to a storied career.

Jim Phillips deserves to be there just as much as any of those names. He’s a true legend that dedicated three and a half decades to his craft and he not only called games at Clemson, he molded many generations of future broadcasters.

Here are the rules for one to be a “Ring of Honor” inductee:

Eligibility: This committee will recognize individuals who have demonstrated consistent and unique national excellence in their sport during their Clemson career. Their accomplishments must be significant on an individual and team basis. Their statistical accomplishments must be noteworthy, but they should also have an outstanding record in terms of leadership. In general, they must have made a noteworthy contribution to the history of the Clemson Athletic Program.

Athletic accomplishments after their Clemson career are not a primary consideration in the nomination, but they must retain a commendable record of citizenship after they leave Clemson. A candidate must be a member of the Clemson Hall of Fame and must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year University or college.

Financial contributions to Clemson University will not be a consideration when evaluating the candidates. For a coach to be nominated, he or she must be retired from coaching that sport at the college level.

The only thing keeping Jim Phillips name off of the Ring of Honor?

He never graduated from a four-year college. A piece of paper. A millimeter thick piece of paper, covered in ink, signed by someone you’ve probably never met is the only thing keeping “The Voice of the Tigers” off of the Ring of Honor.

What a complete travesty.

How that rule can’t be bent, changed, voted on, or a head turned the other way in just this ONE scenario, is beyond my understanding. Why can’t we posthumously grant Jim Phillips a degree?

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Give him an honorary Doctorate for heaven’s sake. Whatever it takes. Get him on that Ring of Honor. He deserves it.

His children and grand-children deserve it and generations of those he molded, like myself, deserve it. Do the right thing. Put Jim Phillips on the Ring of Honor.