The significance of football to Clemson University is almost impossible to miss upon stepping onto the campus. The university has great pride over their successes and bond as a body of students and alumni over football, and this is prevalent upon approaching Death Valley stadium. From the paw prints on the road to the tiger statue in front of the stadium, football is a source of celebration. Consequently, it is not odd to find out that there are traditions that came about due to the university’s relationship with sports.
One tradition of Clemson football games is the entrance of the Clemson Tigers team down the Hill into the stadium. This tradition began in the first game for the stadium in 1942 as the team ran in nearby the students. It was not intended to become as significant as it is today, but it starts every game with an exciting entrance by the Clemson Tigers.
This solidifies the importance of football to Clemson, but they credit some of that luck to a superstition surrounding a mere rock sitting in front of the stadium. There stands a display in front of the stadium of a piece of white flint called Howard’s Rock. New visitors of the university and its games may question its significance and why the Clemson football team touches it before a game.
Howard’s Rock is a rock from Death Valley, California.The rock was a gift to former Head Coach of Clemson Frank Howard in 1966. It was an IPTAY Executive Secretary Gene Willimon, whose namesake is found on the perpendicular road next to the stadium, who had placed the rock in front of the stadium when Howard was not sure where to place it. With time, a superstition formed that the rock must give good luck.
The first game since the placement of Howard’s rock was against Virginia in the same year had told the Tigers that they held victory due to superb tactics and performance. With the score at 35-18 and 3 minutes left in the third quarter, the Clemson Tigers had managed to overcome all odds with 40-35. It was this game that solidified the importance of Howard’s Rock in Clemson football tradition.
Howard's Rock was not always behind a glass case, but it also used to be much bigger. In 2013, the rock had been vandalized with a piece of it broken off. Howard's Rock and its significance to Clemson and its legacy in football has made a simple rock priceless, which made people want ti figure out how to protect it. To protect it, a class case was put around it in the recent years.