By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — It would not be football season if Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier weren’t taking shots at one another’s programs.
In his Tuesday press conference to preview the Gamecocks game at LSU this Saturday, Spurrier sent the first shot—in all fun of course—when he told reporters, “Most of our guys have never been to Death Valley. That is the Death Valley, isn’t it? Or is there another one? There’s two of them? That’s right there’s two Death Valleys. Was LSU the first one or the second one? They were first? Oh, okay.”
Swinney fired back following 13th-ranked Clemson’s practice on Wednesday, but only after a reporter asked him had he heard or seen what Spurrier said.
“I can see where he might have a little confusion,” Swinney said. “Our guys have never been to USC. California is a long way from here. I can see where there can be a little confusion there. There are two Death Valleys and there are two USCs, but there is only one real one.”
Swinney laughed with reporters, while giving Spurrier credit for being quick witted, though.
“That’s classic Spurrier,” Swinney said. “Hey, when you are winning, you can say anything you want. He is one of the best. He has had more lines than anybody probably ever will. But they have a heck of a football team. I’ll tell you that. They have a heck of a team.”
This isn’t the first time the two had taken shots at one another. Spurrier is known for taking shots at his closest rivals wherever he has been. When he was at Florida, he always found a way to poke fun at Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee.
The last few years at South Carolina, he has taken his fair share of jabs at Clemson, too.
But Swinney isn’t all that innocent either. His infamous “Tweet that!” line came following last year’s game with the Gamecocks in response to a tweet on South Carolina football program’s official twitter account, which was attributed to Spurrier.
Five days later, when he learned of the tweet, following Swinney’s response, Spurrier denied saying anything in that regard and the tweet was taken down.
But Spurrier’s comments on Tuesday did come from him, and Swinney was quick to defend Clemson’s “Death Valley” while giving a little history lesson for anyone that was listening.
“For the record, the original Death Valley is right here,” he said. “In case anybody has any doubts, it is right here. That’s the original Death Valley. Do we all agree on that?”
Swinney has a point. Clemson Memorial Stadium actually got its nickname “Death Valley” in the mid to late 1940’s. No one is sure of the exact date, but the moniker was given by late Presbyterian College Coach Lonnie McMillian, who told the press one year when his Blue Hose had to come to Clemson for a game, “We have to go to Death Valley, again.”
It truly was a Death Valley for McMillian’s teams. From 1944 to 1948, his PC teams were beaten by an average score of 49-0, including a 76-0 beat down in 1945. The Tigers netted 516 rushing yards that afternoon and had 11 rushing touchdowns – still a school record for one game.
Clemson actually opened every season for 28 straight years, 1930-1957, against the Blue Hose. Including 16 of those in Memorial Stadium where Clemson was 15-1 and won 14 straight.
The moniker of Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA originated when a television reporter in the 1980s called it “Deaf” Valley, but soon everyone started calling it Death Valley because of LSU’s superior record at Tiger Stadium in night games.