Dabo Swinney has one piece of advice to give to all college football fans. He basically says if you have not been to Clemson Memorial Stadium to see a game, you need to put it on your bucket list.
In particular, Swinney says, fans need to be in place when the Tigers run down the hill in what longtime college football play-by-play man Brent Musburger called, “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”
Ten minutes prior to kickoff, the Tigers come out of the locker room on the west end of the stadium and take a left where they load on buses instead of taking the field. They will then go around the north side of the stadium to the east side where they unload from the buses, rub Howard’s Rock and charge down the hill and into Death Valley.
The Tigers have been doing it this way every game since the Texas A&M game in 1973 – the second home game of the season that year.
“It’s one of those unique traditions in college football that I think makes college football so intriguing and interesting to so many people,” Swinney said. “I tell people all the time, if you’re a college football fan, whether you’re a Clemson fan or not, you really ought to come and see a game at Clemson.
“It’s just a beautiful game day setting, the pageantry that surrounds this game and the campus and the tailgating, and just there’s a spirit here that is really special.”
As Swinney said, it makes Clemson unique to anyone else in the game. Pittsburgh and its fans will get to witness it for the first time on Saturday as the Panthers make their first visit Death Valley to take on No. 2 Clemson. The Tigers can wrap up the ACC’s Atlantic Division title and clinch a spot in next month’s ACC Championship Game with a victory.
Saturday’s game will also be a little unique because Clemson will honor it seniors as part of Senior Day, though the Tigers still have one more game at home against archrival South Carolina on Nov. 26. It’s also unique because Swinney is allowing juniors Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott and Mike Williams to be honored with the seniors because they have already informed him of their intentions of turning pro once the season is over, plus all four are scheduled to graduate in December.
In other words, if this Saturday’s game is your first trip to Death Valley, get to your seats early and take in all the things surrounding the game, especially when the Tigers come charging down the Hill and into the Valley.
“Most teams come out of the locker room and go out to the field, but here we come out of the locker room, we go to the parking lot, we get on buses, we bus around, and the bus ride around is just — it’s just an amazing experience,” Swinney said. “Then to get off the bus and to see eighty-plus thousand people just so excited about celebrating that tradition here at Clemson and to see the team introduced that way is, again, very unique and just a privilege to be a part of it.
“It never gets old. It’s just a lot of fun, and definitely one of those things that people love to show up early to make sure they see it.”