“Don’t get the idea that we’re losing our Fighting Tiger… however, there will be an air of mystique about our Tiger. You never know where or when he is going to strike. That Tiger paw’s gonna be stalking behind a few bushes real soon”
-R.C. Edwards, 26 July 1970, Spartanburg Herald Journal

Before the tiger paw became the logo of Clemson University, there was never a consistent logo. Although the bengal tiger was often used, it varied in style and character. This led to an identity crisis within Clemson as it never had a standardized way of representing itself to the public. It was this identity issue along with the retirement of long-time head football coach Frank Howard that prompted the search for a new, official logo. Over his years of coaching, Howard and the Tiger became symbolic of each other, and Hootie Ingram became the first new football coach in 30 years. It was this transition from Howard to Ingram which catalyzed the change from the Tiger to the Paw.

In 1969, University President R.C. Edwards decided it was necessary to change the outward “image of Clemson” (The Tiger Paw of Clemson University: Its Birth and Adoption). Advertisements were then placed in multiple South Carolina newspapers seeking interested firms, and the winning contract was the Henderson Advertising Agency of Greenville. The Clemson project was eventually handed to John Antonio of the Henderson Agency, who is recognized as the creator of the paw. The agency eventually sent out requests to zoos across the country for creating a new logo that was based on a tiger but not a tiger itself. They received two responses: one being a detailed photo of a tiger and the other being a plaster of a tiger’s paw from the National Art History Museum in Chicago. Once the plaster was delivered to Antonio in June of 1970, he created the primordial version of the famous tiger paw associated with Clemson today.

In July of 1970, a committee, of which both Frank Howard and Hootie Ingram were members, met for Antonio’s grand reveal. Howard was less than impressed; his first response was asking to see what the second option was. However, his mind was changed when Antonio pulled out a helmet with a white paw on either side, (The Tiger Paw of Clemson University: Its Birth and Adoption). He was convinced by the idea that a fan from anywhere in Death Valley would be able to easily recognize the paw from any seat in the stadium.

On July 21st 1970, the tiger paw was officially introduced as the new logo of Clemson University. A press team traveled across the state to announce the new logo to media sources, and this was the beginning of the Clemson tiger paw becoming one of the most recognizable symbols all of athletics.