CLEMSON — Another round of verbal back-and-forth between Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier unfolded this week.
At Tuesday’s press conference previewing South Carolina’s top-10 matchup at LSU, Spurrier quipped, “Most of our guys have never been to Death Valley. That is the real Death Valley, isn’t it? Is there another one?”
In 1948, former Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillian told reporters that “he had to take his team up to Clemson and play in Death Valley,” and the name stuck.
LSU’s Tiger Stadium was known alternately as “Deaf Valley” and “Death Valley” in the 1980s, according to various articles, but the “Death Valley” moniker took hold sometime over the last 25-30 years.
Former LSU sports information director Herb Vincent researched the question in 1996 before the teams met in the Peach Bowl, talking to numerous longtime LSU fans and locals, and told the Associated Press no one knows which came first.
Wednesday, a reporter asked Swinney about Spurrier’s comments, and he responded in good kind.
“I can see where (Spurrier) might have a little confusion,” Swinney told reporters. “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 two USCs. There's only one real one.
"But, anyway, coach Spurrier – that's classic Spurrier."
Swinney, of course, called out South Carolina after hearing a quote from USC’s official Twitter account saying “we aren’t Alabama and we aren’t LSU but we sure ain’t Clemson.” The quote, attributed to Spurrier, actually came from USC play-by-play man Todd Ellis following the Gamecocks’ victory over Clemson.
Swinney quipped that “Carolina is in Chapel Hill, USC is in California and the university in this state always has been and always will be Clemson” to begin an extended, now-infamous rant.
Who wins this war of words really doesn’t matter: Clemson or South Carolina will get the last- or at least the next – word when the teams meet in Clemson’s Death Valley on Nov. 24 in what will be a highly-anticipated showdown.