It might have been the most repeated phrase in the mailbag … “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” An overwhelming amount of ACC fans – both from Clemson and other schools – gave the Tigers credit for their game-day traditions:
Howard’s Rock: The Tigers began the tradition of rubbing the rock before running down the hill on September 23, 1967. Clemson beat Wake Forest 23-6 that day. Before they did, though, coach Frank Howard told the team, “If you’re going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you’re not, keep your filthy hands off it.”
Running down “The Hill”: It started out of necessity, as it was the most convenient way into the stadium, and it stayed that way for 25 years. There were no dressing facilities in the west end zone, so the team would get ready in Fike Fieldhouse, walk to the gate where the scoreboard now is, and jog down the hill for warm-ups. Now it’s accompanied by fanfare, a cannon shot, the Tiger Paw flag, and Tiger Rag.
The Esso. Before and after the game, this establishment has become a fan favorite for an adult beverage or six. Or so I'm told. (Really, I've only driven past it. I'm working, people, I'm working ...)
Tiger-Rag. It’s the unmistakeable fight song.
The Graveyard. Beating a ranked opponent on the road is taken very seriously. Any opponent who suffers this fate is buried near the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center.
Tiger Walk. It’s a new tradition, instituted by Dabo Swinney during his first season, and the fans seem to love it.
George in Summerville, S.C. writes: Game-day Traditions -- nothing in the ACC comes close to the players running down the hill at Clemson. I have been to home games at all of the ACC schools (with the exception of BC) so I can speak from experience. I am a little biased since I am a Clemson grad but even so, I have not seen anything at any of the other schools that is even close!
Peter in Columbia, S.C. writes: Game-day traditions at Clemson are outstanding. Besides the game-time tradition of running down the hill (you have to see it at least once if you're a college football fan), the tailgating scene is second to none. Everywhere you go you'll find orange... flags waving, clothes, dog clothes, tents, beer pong tables, chairs... you name it. Another great tradition that Dabo started when he got here is Tiger Walk. The team walks 200 yards right down the middle of one of the tailgate lots to get to their locker room in the West End Zone. I'm confident that Clemson's game-day traditions are unmatched anywhere in the ACC.
Grayson in Tampa writes: Why even pose the question, Brent Musberger already told the entire nation what the MOST EXCITING 25 SECONDS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL was all about. You can enter the Sand Man or have Chief O and Renegade open your games, but neither compare to when those TIGERS are perched atop the hill ready the enter the VALLEY and descend upon their prey.
Wade in Boston, Mass., writes : No. 1 in the ACC, if not the entire country... Rubbing Howard's Rock and Running down the Hill. It still gives me chills everytime I feel the energy of 80,000+ fans screaming to that entrance. Other Good ones at Clemson, the tombstones, yelling Orange/White, and Clemson/Tigers, and last year CJ/Spiller (not a tradition). The Tiger doing pushups in front of the student section after Clemson scores points. I'm also very proud of the Ring of Honor around the stadium, and I look forward to them putting up Spiller's name and number. Finally, it's only been a two-year tradition, but I personally like the Dabo instituted Tiger Walk through Parking lot 5 to the West endzone.