We visited colleges in South Carolina to begin the college search process for my son who is a high school junior. We toured Clemson University Saturday and attended a football game against Furman.
Before the game, we walked through Clemson, the college town. We felt like we arrived on another planet. Everyone in the town (EVERYONE) wore the Clemson colors orange and/or purple. The only people without orange or purple were us. We stood out like a bunch of freaks. (My friends would tell you that this would not surprise them.) My son, Colin, purchased a purple Clemson golf shirt with a small orange tiger paw (the tiger is their mascot). He donned it immediately, and I was glad because I thought that we looked less conspicuous. The man who sold Colin the shirt told him that he was getting strange looks with his Maryland pride shirt. I bet he wasn’t teasing him either!
The Clemson Memorial Stadium is called “Death Valley.” The stadium sits in a valley, and in 1948 Coach Lonnie McMillian, from Presbyterian College said that it was where his teams went to die.
In 1966, a rock from Death Valley, Calif. mounted on a pedestal on “The Hill” started a Clemson tradition. In a game against Wake Forest, coach Frank Howard told the players that they could rub the rock if they gave 110 percent. If not, he wanted them to keep their “filthy hands” off of it. Today, before they run down “The Hill,” the Tiger football players still rub the rock for good luck.
“The Hill” stands above Death Valley’s east end zone and is also the student section. The students flank each side of “The Hill” leaving the middle strip open. The players charge down “The Hill” and burst on the field before the game. The tradition began in 1942 because it was the shortest distance from Fike Fieldhouse where the players got dressed. When the players run down “The Hill”, the band plays “The Tiger Rag,” a cannon thunders and thousands of orange balloons fill the air. The players entrance is called “the most exciting 25 seconds in football.” This video from the Clemson website, says it all!
Clemson spirit reverberates throughout the stadium. Cannons boom and fireworks explode when Clemson scores a touchdown or field goal.
The Clemson game that we attended seemed like a family atmosphere. Several children watched and cheered the Tigers, and the adults seemed responsible. Do you think that professional football fans could learn something from the Clemson fans?