HOME ~ College Football History
Name synonymous with Clemson Memorial Stadium. The Stadium was dubbed
this affectionate title by the late Lonnie McMillian, a former coach at
Presbyterian. He used to take his teams to play at Clemson, and they
rarely scored, never mind gained a victory. Once he told the writers he
was going to play Clemson up at Death Valley because his teams
got killed. It stuck somewhat, but when Frank Howard start calling it
that in the fifties, the term really caught on. It is now in its 54th
Many people think the name is derived from the fact that there rests a
cemetary outside the fence on the press box site of the stadium. But,
although it would make sense, the name was first coined by Lonnie
First Friday Parade
The Clemson football season kicks off each year with the annual First
Friday Parade. The once a year event takes place on the Friday afternoon
prior to the first home football game. Floats from various fraternities
and sororities and other campus organizations are represented in the
parade that rolls down main street in Clemson. The parade culminates at
the Amphitheater in the middle of campus where the first Pep Rally of
the year takes place.
The Grand Marshall of the Parade is featured at the Pep Rally. Recent
Grand Marshall's have ranged from current PGA professional Dillard
Pruitt, to College Football Hall of Fame legends Jess Neely and Frank
Howard, to noted television announcers Brent Musburger and Ara
Clemson holds a classic homecoming every year. Displays by fraternities,
sororities, and other student organizations that are months in the
making, are built on Bowman Field the week prior to the Homecoming
Weekend. It is an event that draws alumni and friends of Clemson from
all over the country.
The Friday evening prior to the game, Tigerama is held in Death Valley,
an event that attracts over 35,000 fans. The Homecoming Queen and her
court are presented in addition to Homecoming skits, a pep rally and a
large and loud fireworks display.
The first homecoming game played at Clemson took place on September 30,
1922 when Clemson met Centre. Clemson has a 56-19-3 record on Homecoming
games over the years. The average margin of victory is 21 to 12. Clemson
has been especially successful on Homecoming in recent years, posting a
26-3-2 record since 1971.
The tradition of the Clemson team wearing orange pants is new according
to tradition standards. The Tigers first wore the all orange uniform for
the final game of the 1980 season against South Carolina. Clemson upset
the 14th ranked Gamecocks and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers, 27-6.
The victory set the stage for Clemson's National Championship run of
Overall, Clemson is 29-6 in Orange pants since that 1980 game, including
a 16-1 record ingames played in the month of November. The Tigers have
won seven in a row in orange pants, including last year's important
victory over North Carolina.
Clemson has nine wins over top 20 opponents when wearing Orange pants,
including the 22-15 National Championship clinching win over Nebraska in
the 1982 Orange Bowl.
When the Clemson team gathers to Run Down the Hill the players rub
Howard's Rock because of the mystical powers it is supposed to give
The rock is mounted on a pedestal at the top of the hill and was given
to Coach Frank Howard by a friend (S.C. Jones' 19) who picked it up in
Death Valley, CA.
The Rock was first placed on the pedestal at the top of the hill on
September 24, 1966, a game Clemson won 40-35 over Virginia.
The team started rubbing the rock for the first game of 1967, a 23-6 win
over Wake Forest on September 23, 1967.
Running Down the Hill
One of the most exciting 25 seconds (about 35 seconds when Clemson
dresses 120 players for homecoming) in college football from a color and
pageantry standpoint. After Clemson's last warmup the team retreats to
the home dressing room located under the West Stands. At about 12:50 (
for normal 1:00 P.M. game), the team boards two buses and drives around
the periphery of the stadium to the east side of the field. After
everyone is properly collected, the cannon sounds, Tiger Rag is played
and Clemson charges down the hill (exactly 100 feet top to bottom) and
onto the field. It is one of the most celebrated entrances in sport. The
Tigers have done it for every game since 1942, except for 1970, 1971 and
four games of the 1972 season. In all, the Tigers have run down the hill
249 times heading into 1996.
How in the world did the tradition of running down the hill start? There
is no long involved explanation, it used to be the quickest way to get
to the field. When the stadium was built in 1942 the football locker
rooms were up the street in Fike Fieldhouse.
When the players were finished getting dressed they used to walk out the
front door and walk down the street to "The Hill". Coach Howard
continued the tradition when locker rooms were finally built inside the
stadium because Clemson fans used to get so fired up when they gathered
at the top of the hill. That's when the buses came into use to spend the
trip from the locker room to the other side of the stadium.