Clemson has first dibs, but teams won't squabble over Death Valley homes

LSU's Les Miles says there's plenty of room in college football for two Death Valleys

A solid orange crowd of Clemson fans cheer during the Clemson - Auburn game.

Photo by Mark Crammer

A solid orange crowd of Clemson fans cheer during the Clemson - Auburn game.

By mutual agreement of coaches Dabo Swinney and Les Miles, Clemson and LSU won't be putting their status as Death Valley Tigers on the line when their teams play New Year's Eve at the Georgia Dome.

"I don't know that we're looking to change names - there's a deep-seated feeling at both schools that we're both Tigers," said Miles, adding that there's plenty of room in college football for two Death Valleys.

There's not nearly as much room for argument over who has first claim on the name, however.

Clemson Death Valley is the original, by more than a decade - thanks to a quip by an embattled opposing coach.

Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillian came up with the name after his Blue Hose trudged back to Clinton, S.C. smarting from a 76-0 drubbing by the Tigers in 1945.

The trek to Pickens County, and the result, had a familiar feel for the Blue Hose, who opened every season between 1930 and 1957 at Clemson. Presbyterian won just once - a 13-12 upset in 1943.

Over the next five seasons, the Tigers battered the Blue Hose by a combined score of 244-0.

Frank Howard, always the showman, adopted the nickname 'Death Valley' as Clemson's own. The first published reports of Clemson's Memorial Stadium being called Death Valley date back to the late 1940s. After Bob Bradley became Clemson's sports information director in 1955, the name 'Death Valley' became a fixture in Clemson's football lore.

LSU's claim to the Death Valley tag didn't come until the early sixties, after the Tigers had risen to national prominence and had claimed the 1958 national title under coach Paul Dietzel.

LSU football historian Marty Mule wrote in his chronicle 'Eye of the Tiger: One Hundred Years of LSU Football' that the Tigers' stadium was first tagged as 'Deaf Valley' after Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon returned a punt 89 yards in the closing seconds to beat Ole Miss in 1959.

Mule states in his book that over time, LSU's stadium came to be known as Death Valley, and acknowledges that the name was first used by Clemson.

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Comments » 1

TigerMarine writes:

Auburn was the inspiration for Clemson being called the tiger's. It originated in 1898 by the third first year coach in a row that had played on the Auburn football team.

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