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Completed in 1942, Clemson Memorial Stadium is known as "Death Valley" and one of the most well-known stadiums in college football. Home to the Clemson University Tigers' football team, the stadium has a capacity of over 83,000 and is known as an intimidating place for opposing teams. Among many traditions, players rub Howard's Rock for good luck and run down the neighboring hill into the stadium to start every game.


  • A night game in Death Valley against Georgia in 2013
  • Overhead view of Memorial Stadium
  • Newly constructed Oculus outside of the west end zone
  • Howard's Rock atop the hill pregame
  • Clemson players running down the hill after touching Howard's Rock
  • Clemson vs. Notre Dame circa 1977

Clemson Memorial Stadium was constructed from 1941 to 1942. The stadium was given the nickname “Death Valley” in 1948 after Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillian in reference to his teams being unable to win a single game at the stadium. The stadium is part of a storied tradition that includes Clemson players touching Howard’s Rock before running down the hill in the east end zone and into the stadium before kickoff. The tradition started when Frank Howard, head coach of the Tigers in the 50s and 60s, received the rock as a gift from a friend who had gone to Death Valley, California and found the rock. The rock originally served as a doorstop for the coach's office Howard decided to put the rock at the top of the hill on a pedestal and use it to motivate his players. Howard is famously remembered for telling his players, “If you ain’t gonna give me 110%, you better keep your filthy hands off my rock!”

On September 24th, 1966, Clemson rubbed Howard’s Rock before running down the hill for the first time. After this happened, the team went on to beat Virginia, 40-35. This tradition has been carried out every game since then, and in 1985 ESPN’s Brent Musburger called this entrance, “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” One of the most intriguing facts about this tradition is how it unfolds. Before the stadium included a locker room, the team would dress at Jervey Athletic center, get on school buses, and commute to the top of the hill. Now, the tradition is a public spectacle. The team warms up on the field, gets dressed in the locker room in the stadium, then the players exit the west end zone and board a caravan of buses, and travel around the stadium. When the players arrive at the top of the hill, they are met by fans as they walk to Howard’s Rock. The players, along with the coaches, then sit atop the hill, rubbing the rock and pumping themselves up while the fight song plays until a cannon fires and the players charge down the hill into the stadium.

“Death Valley.” Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site, Https://Clemsontigers.com/, 28 Jan. 2020, clemsontigers.com/death-valley/.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

“Death Valley.” Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site, Https://Clemsontigers.com/, 28 Jan. 2020, clemsontigers.com/death-valley/.

Brenner, Aaron. “Clemson Approves $25 Million Suite Renovation to Memorial Stadium.” Post and Courier, The Post and Courier, 2 Nov. 2016, www.postandcourier.com/sports/clemson-approves-million-suite-renovation-to-memorial-stadium/article_4bc67939-7de2-50c4-88e2-c5d9154eb216.html.

Athletics, Clemson. “Great Entrance to a Great Stadium. #Oculus #Clemson Pic.twitter.com/MTeCTpreUz.” Twitter, Twitter, 15 Sept. 2015, twitter.com/clemsontigers/status/643817857512509440.

“Howard's Rock Case Damage.” Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site, Https://Clemsontigers.com/, 26 Feb. 2015, clemsontigers.com/howards-rock-case-damage/.

graynor@postandcourier.com, Grace Raynor. “Clemson Ultimatum: 'Fill the Hill' at Football Games.” Post and Courier, The Post and Courier, 24 June 2018, www.postandcourier.com/sports/clemson-ultimatum-fill-the-hill-at-football-games/article_66b10524-761d-11e8-aadc-4fb3908c1c5e.html.

Gillespie, Joel. “Clemson Running Down Hill, Notre Dame Game, 1977.” Flickr, Yahoo!, 30 Aug. 2009, www.flickr.com/photos/joelgillespie/3868556407/in/photostream/.