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Friday, September 2, 2011

Clemson Tigers

This is an excerpt from the book 'The Totally Biased Guide to Southern College Football' by Pete Davis, available now on's Kindle for just 99 cents at:
And you can follow me on twitter: @petedavis1
            Clemson.  Where the ‘n’ stands for knowledge.
            This school is basically Auburn with a lake, hence the better hygiene.   There used to be a bar in Snellville, Georgia where you could find a poster of a cow standing in a muddy field.  About 10 feet behind the bovine was a man in a bathing suit standing on a pair of water skis.  He was attached by ropes to the cow.  Underneath the photo was the caption “Ski Clemson.” 
            Cow-tipping here is not just a fraternity haze, it’s a major.
Clemson revolutionized the funding of athletics in the 1930s with an organization called ‘IPTAY’.
            It stands for “I Pay Ten AYear,” meaning members pay at least ten dollars annually to fund scholarships and buildings.  Ten bucks a year may not seem much but around Clemson it’s the difference between a new screen door for the back porch or having those damn skeeters eat us alive this summer.
            They raised $1600 in the first year in the heart of the Great Depression.  Some people couldn’t even come up with the ten bucks so they sent barter items such as turnip greens, milk, and sweet potatoes to feed the players.  Over 200 million has been raised since.  That’s a lot of green, turnip or otherwise.  This new way of accounting and raising money was copied by the Mafia.
Clemson Memorial Stadium is situated in a hollow so it has become known as Death Valley.  The location of a cemetery on top of the hill overlooking the edifice may also be a clue to its nomenclature.  That last word, nomenclature, like any other four-syllable word has never before been uttered in or about Clemson.  The coach at Presbyterian coined the phrase Death Valley because his team always got killed there, but it really became popular when legendary coach Frank Howard started using it.
Keeping with the cemetery theme they have a ‘graveyard’ set up near their practice field.  On it they put actual marble gravestones marking wins over ranked teams on the road.  It’s been lean times for the Grim Scorekeeper lately.  They haven’t ‘buried’ a team there since 2006.
            Tradition includes the touching of Howard’s Rock, which surprisingly does not break any of South Carolina’s tough sodomy laws.  So I’ve heard.
            The geophysical lump is named after former coach Howard who received the rock from a friend who had picked it up in Death Valley, California.  He thought it would be fitting to have the rock come to an eastern Death Valley.  Howard was so touched by this gesture he used it as a doorstop for many years in his office.  One day he was cleaning and tossed the rock to the head of IPTAY and requested it either be thrown over a fence or in a ditch.  Instead, the man super-glued it to a pedestal and placed it at the top of the east end zone hill entering the stadium.  Such are what epiphanies are made of at Clemson.  This was in 1966.  One found oneself with a lot of time on one’s hands back then and there.  And extra glue and pedestals.  Still do.
            The players touched and rubbed it, the rock I mean, on the way down to the field, which led Howard to use it as a motivational tool.  He told players “Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off of my rock.”  They now run by and ‘rub their rock’ before every home game, making this the largest euphemism in college sports.
            Actually, the players’ locker room is on the other side of the stadium.  They come out, board busses, get carted to the other side of the stadium where they’re let out to run to touch the rock.  A quick check finds no Transportation Planning major at the school, but you can get a bachelor of science degree in Turfgrass.  Look it up.
1899 Clemson football team and Confederate re-enactors.
If you like what you've read so far just wait until you see the rest about Clemson and all the SEC schools, as well as Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami. It's all in 'The Totally Biased Guide to Southern College Football' by Pete Davis and available for the price of a Whopper Jr. on Kindle at:
And you can follow me on twitter: @petedavis1

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