You’ve undoubtedly heard about Howard’s Rock if you are familiar with Clemson football. But do you know the full story behind this iconic symbol? The history of Howard’s Rock at Clemson is a tale steeped in tradition, legend, and lore that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The story begins in the early 1960s when legendary Clemson football coach Frank Howard received a gift from his close friend, Samuel C. Jones.
Jones had come across a two-and-a-half-pound rock while traveling through Death Valley, California, and thought Howard might find some use for it back at Clemson. Little did he know, this rock would become one of the most cherished and beloved symbols in all of college football.
The rock made its first appearance on September 24, 1966, during a game against Virginia. Clemson was losing by 18 points with just seventeen minutes left in the game. However, the Tigers rallied and won the game 40-35.
The next season, the tradition of rubbing the rock for good luck before entering the stadium began. Since then, Howard’s Rock has been a fixture at Clemson football games, inspiring players and fans alike with its storied history and enduring legacy.
Origins of Howard’s Rock
If you’re a Clemson fan, you know the legend of Howard’s Rock. But do you know how it all began?
It all started in 1966 when an alumnus named Samuel C. Jones was traveling through Death Valley, California. He came across a two-and-a-half-pound rock that he thought would be a great gift for his friend and Clemson football coach, Frank Howard. Jones thought Howard might find some use for it back at Clemson.
Arrival at Clemson
Howard received the rock and used it as a doorstop in his office for a few years. But in 1967, the rock found its true home. Howard had the rock placed on a pedestal at the top of The Hill, overlooking Memorial Stadium.
On September 23, 1967, just before a football game against Wake Forest, Howard told his players that if they gave 110%, they could receive the privilege of rubbing the rock. The players were inspired and went on to win the game 23-6.
Since then, rubbing Howard’s Rock has become a beloved tradition at Clemson. The rock has been through a lot over the years, including being vandalized and stolen. But it always finds its way back to its pedestal, where Clemson fans can continue to rub it for good luck.
And that’s the story of how Howard’s Rock came to be a symbol of Clemson football. It may seem like just a rock, but to Clemson fans, it’s so much more than that. It represents the Clemson Tigers’ spirit and determination and Coach Howard’s legacy.
Tradition of Howard’s Rock
Inception of the Tradition
The story of Howard’s Rock at Clemson University dates back to the early 1960s when Samuel C. Jones, a friend of legendary Clemson football coach Frank Howard, gave him a rock he had found on a trip to Death Valley, California. Howard was initially unimpressed with the rock and left it on his office shelf for several years.
It wasn’t until 1966 when Howard’s team was struggling against Virginia in the season opener that he decided to use the rock as a motivational tool. He had his players rub the rock for good luck before running down the hill into the stadium. The Tigers went on to win the game and the tradition of rubbing Howard’s Rock before each home game was born.
Role in Pre-Game Rituals
Today, Howard’s Rock is mounted on a pedestal overlooking Clemson’s Memorial Stadium. Before each home game, the Clemson players gather around the rock, rub it for good luck, and then run down the hill into the stadium, known as “Death Valley.” The tradition has become one of the most visible and beloved in all of college football.
The rock has played a significant role in Clemson football history. It has been stolen twice, once in 1969 and again in 2013, but was quickly recovered both times. In 2013, the thief was caught and sentenced to three years in prison.
In addition to being a symbol of good luck and a source of motivation for the team, Howard’s Rock is also a reminder of Clemson football’s rich history and tradition.
It is a testament to the passion and dedication of the players, coaches, and fans who have made Clemson football one of the country’s most respected and successful programs.
Significance of Howard’s Rock
Symbol of Clemson Spirit
Howard’s Rock is more than just a large piece of quartzite. It is a symbol of the Clemson spirit, a tradition that has been carried on for decades.
The rock was given to Coach Frank Howard by a friend who picked it up in Death Valley, California. Since then, it has become a revered object among Clemson fans, players, and coaches alike.
The rock is mounted on a pedestal at the top of The Hill, overlooking Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
Impact on Team Morale
The impact of Howard’s Rock on the Clemson football team cannot be overstated. The players believe that the rock has mystical powers that give them an advantage on the field. The tradition of rubbing the rock before each game has become a ritual that helps to build team morale and camaraderie.
Former Clemson football player and coach Danny Ford once said, “If you’re not a part of Clemson, you don’t understand it. If you’re a part of Clemson, no explanation is necessary.”
This sentiment is echoed by current Clemson players and coaches, who understand the significance of Howard’s Rock and what it means to the Clemson community.
Howard’s Rock is more than just a piece of quartzite. It is a symbol of the Clemson spirit and a tradition that has been carried on for decades.
The impact of the rock on the Clemson football team cannot be overstated, as it helps to build team morale and camaraderie. If you’re a part of Clemson, no explanation is necessary.
Controversies and Incidents
Howard’s Rock has been the target of several vandalism cases over the years. In 1992, the glass case that housed the rock was smashed, and the rock was stolen.
Fortunately, the rock was found a few days later and returned to Clemson University. In 2013, the rock was vandalized again, and a piece of it was chipped off.
Three men were arrested in connection with the incident, and the charges against them were felony malicious injury to animals or personal property valued at more than $2,000 but less than $10,000 and misdemeanor trespassing. The charges were subsequently upgraded.
Clemson University has taken measures to protect Howard’s Rock and prevent further vandalism incidents.
In 2014, the university installed a new security system that includes surveillance cameras and an alarm system. The glass case that houses the rock was also reinforced with bulletproof glass. The university has also increased the number of police officers patrolling the area around the rock.
Clemson University has also taken steps to preserve the rock for future generations. In 2015, the university began a project to clean and preserve the rock.
The project involved removing the dirt and grime that had accumulated on the rock over the years and applying a special coating to protect it from further damage. The university also created a replica of the rock displayed in the Clemson University Football Complex.
Despite the controversies and incidents surrounding Howard’s Rock, it remains an important symbol of the Clemson University football program. The rock has become a source of inspiration for the players and fans alike, and it serves as a reminder of the rich history and tradition of Clemson football.
Howard’s Rock in Popular Culture
When it comes to college football traditions, few are as iconic as Howard’s Rock at Clemson University. Over the years, this beloved symbol has become a fixture in popular culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, and even music videos.
In the film, a group of college football players steal the rock from Clemson’s stadium and use it as a motivational tool. The scene has become a classic; many fans remember it fondly.
Howard’s Rock has also made appearances in several TV shows over the years. In the hit series “The Office,” for example, character Jim Halpert can be seen wearing a Clemson Tigers t-shirt with a picture of the rock on it. The rock has also been referenced in shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother.”
In addition to its appearances in movies and TV shows, Howard’s Rock has also been featured in music videos. In the video for the song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled, for example, the rock can be seen on display in the background. The rock has also been referenced in songs by artists like Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
Overall, it’s clear that Howard’s Rock has become much more than just a college football tradition. It’s a beloved symbol of Clemson University and a pop culture icon that has captured the hearts of fans around the world.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the origin of Howard’s Rock at Clemson University?
Howard’s Rock is a special piece of stone that has become a legendary symbol of the Clemson University football program. The rock was first given to the legendary Clemson football coach Frank Howard in the early 1960s as a gift from a friend who found it while driving through Death Valley, California. The coach used the rock as a doorstop until 1966 when it was mounted on a pedestal overlooking Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
When did Howard’s Rock arrive at Clemson?
Howard’s Rock arrived at Clemson in the early 1960s as a gift from a friend of Clemson football coach Frank Howard. The rock was used as a doorstop for several years before it was mounted on a pedestal overlooking Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in 1966.
Why is Clemson’s stadium known as Death Valley?
Clemson’s stadium is known as Death Valley because of its reputation as one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to play in college football. The nickname originated from the Clemson players who, after a tough road loss to Texas A&M in 1948, said that they had just played in Death Valley.
Who is the famous coach that coached at Clemson and Georgia Tech?
The famous coach who coached at Clemson and Georgia Tech was John Heisman. Heisman is best known for his time at Georgia Tech, where he won two national championships and the team was undefeated in 1917 and 1918. Heisman also coached at Clemson from 1900-1903.
Has Howard’s Rock ever been vandalized?
Yes, unfortunately, Howard’s Rock has been vandalized. In 2013, someone broke into Clemson’s Memorial Stadium and removed a part of the rock. The perpetrator was later caught and sentenced to three years in prison. The rock was repaired and put back on display for the Clemson faithful to enjoy.
Is there a replica of Howard’s Rock available?
Yes, there is a replica of Howard’s Rock available for purchase. The replica is made of a composite material and is designed to look and feel like the original rock. It is a popular item for Clemson fans who want to have a piece of the tradition in their own homes.