As the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to descend upon death valley, we thought it would be interesting to discover the origin of Clemson’s Howard’s Rock. Our previous experience exploring college football traditions includes a look at why the Wisconsin Badgers jump around, the history of the hedges in Sanford Stadium, and the holding up of four fingers to signify the start of the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely this post will be as interesting as the aforementioned ones, because it is about a two-and- a-half-pound rock.
The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football?
College Football About notes that Clemson’s 25 second entrance complete with the Tiger players charging down “The Hill” into Memorial Stadium has been called “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” What could possibly be so exciting about charging down a hill? It would certainly be entertaining if a player fell and rolled down said hill as long as no one gets hurt.
“Get This Rock Out of my Office”
According to Wikipedia, Howard’s Rock was named after former Clemson head football coach Frank Howard. Howard received the rock from a friend named Samuel Columbus Jones. Jones bestowed this gift upon Frank Howard because he found it in Death Valley California, and he thought that Coach Howard may find it useful. Indeed, Howard found the rock to be a perfect doorstop.
Clemson lore tells that Frank Howard was tidying up his office one day afterward when he found the rock. Coach Howard took the rock to a booster named Gene Williamson and stated, “Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in a ditch. Do something with it, but get it out of my office.”
As a result of this instruction, Gene Williamson chose to place the rock near the entrance to the stadium, at a location where Clemson Tiger players would have to pass by the rock to enter the field of play. When Clemson erased an 18 point deficit to defeat Virginia 40-35 in the 1966 season opener a couple of weeks later, Coach Frank Howard and company decided that the rock was exactly where it belonged.
Gamecocks Better Not Touch That Rock
Howard’s Rock is closely guarded by ROTC members when the South Carolina Gamecocks visit every other year to renew the annual rivalry in The Palmetto State. The article on About notes that South Carolina fans are particularly disrespectful to this Tiger tradition.
Some College Football Fans Need to Grow up
A Google search of Howard’s Rock brings up a myriad of articles regarding its recent vandalism, including an update yesterday by Greenville News regarding the arrests made as a result. No matter where your college football loyalty lies, defacing the rock only serves to give college football rivalries a bad reputation. The extension of one’s dislike for another school should never translate to criminal activity.