A key part of one of the most iconic traditions in college football has been vandalized, as Clemson officials confirmed that Howard’s Rock was damaged earlier this month.
“We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement Sunday night. “Police are investigating.”
Howard’s Rock sits on a hill above Memorial Stadium, where Clemson players have rubbed it before every taking the field for every home game since 1966. The stone was brought to Death Valley, South Carolina from Death Valley, California by a Tigers alum.
According to reports, on either June 2nd or 3rd, vandals removed the Plexiglass casing around the stone and broke off a chunk of it. The pedestal the stone sits on was not damaged and the case around the rock has been replaced, but the piece of stone is missing. While the police haven’t named any suspects, that hasn’t stopped some of the Tiger faithful from looking toward their rivals from Columbia. This isn’t the first time the Rock has been targeted:
This is the third time someone has tried to remove or vandalize the rock. In 1992, the week leading up to the South Carolina game someone or group of people tried to remove Howard’s Rock from its pedestal atop the east hill in Memorial Stadium and they took off a piece on the left side of the rock.
In 2004 an opponent’s team manager tried to vandalize the rock during a walk through the day before the game, but he was stopped.
While we all enjoy some good-natured pranking, actually damaging a decades-old part of a school’s tradition is clearly a step too far. The incident is reminiscent of Alabama fan Harvey Updyke’s heinous attack on rival Auburn, where he poisoned the beloved oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. Auburn hopes to have the trees replaced by the 2014 football season, but there is no word on whether Clemson plans on attempting to repair the Rock.
Here is a very old ESPN clip - featuring a very young Chris Fowler - detailing the tradition:
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