CU Death Valley

“Death Valley”

1942 –

Clemson Memorial Stadium, popularly known as “Death Valley,” is the third playing field for Clemson football. Clemson football was initially played on the military parade ground in front of Tillman Hall, known as Bowman Field.

Clemson Memorial Stadium, popularly known as “Death Valley,” is the third playing field for Clemson football. Clemson football was initially played on the military parade ground in front of Tillman Hall, known as Bowman Field. Prior to the construction of Memorial Stadium, the Tigers played on Riggs Field, named for former president and football coach Walter Merritt Riggs, who came from Auburn University bringing the tiger mascot and orange uniforms to Clemson. Riggs Field survives as Clemson’s soccer field.

Clemson Memorial Stadium opened in 1942. Expanded over the years, the facility is an imposing place to play–so imposing that football coach Lonnie McMillian of Presbyterian College dubbed it “Death Valley” because his teams always got “killed” on the field. Coach Frank Howard began using the term in the 1950s, and it stuck. With a seating capacity of more than eighty thousand, “Death Valley” comes to life each fall as students, alumni, and fans converge in a sea of orange. The pregame tradition of the team running down the hill after rubbing Howard’s Rock while the Clemson University Tiger Band plays “Tiger Rag” has been called one of the most exciting twenty-five seconds in college football.

The “Number 1” on the stadium scoreboard signifies the 1981 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championship under former head coach Danny Ford. Notables in Clemson football lore are recognized in Death Valley’s Clemson Ring of Honor, begun in 1994. Adjacent to the west end zone is the IPTAY athletic office, which lists the major bowl game appearances through the years. The trademarked tiger paw is the unmistakable symbol of Death Valley, from the tiger paws on the field and helmets to the tiger paws on the cheeks of fans. Other sights and sounds include the dotting of the I in the Tiger Band’s formation and the Tiger Roar from the scoreboards.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Death Valley
  • Coverage 1942 –
  • Author
  • Keywords Clemson Memorial Stadium, Bowman Field, Walter Merritt Riggs, Coach Frank Howard, Howard’s Rock, 1981 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championship, IPTAY athletic office, trademarked tiger paw
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 31, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 14, 2016
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