One of college football’s most daunting places for visiting teams to play, Death Valley rests peacefully in one of my favorite sports comic books – Deadly Sports Stuff. Check out the excerpt below.
Two prominent universities lay claim to the mortal title. And both schools routinely spar over who owns the genuine birthright to their individual stadium’s deathly name.
Clemson University’s Death Valley
Aptly named Death Valley, the first is Clemson University’s football stadium. It’s ironically situated between a cemetery on a hill and a plain with a valley beyond.
Clemson claims its stadium is the genuine Death Valley of college football because it can clearly identify the genesis of its deadly sounding name.
In 1948, former Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillian bemoaned the fact that his teams rarely scored and never won when playing in Clemson’s Death Valley.
McMillian’s comments hold true for most other NCAA FBS teams as well. Clemson’s Death Valley boasts a remarkable home field advantage.
It’s here that the Clemson Tigers have won an impressive 71% of their home games. It’s also where their boisterous 81,500 seat stadium reaches a deafening decibel level of 133db.
Death Valley is famous for Howard’s Rock. Named after legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard, this actual rock originated from Death Valley Park in California. It serves as a landmark in the stadium.
Since 1967, Clemson players and coaches have traditionally touched the rock before each game amid fireworks and a raucous crowd.
Opposing teams have often become intimidated while witnessing this amazing spectacle, acknowledged as one of the richest in college sports. The lore and legend of Death Valley causes these would-be rivals to succumb to the Tigers on their notoriously scary home field.
LSU’s Death Valley
About 1,000 miles southwest of Clemson, SC stands the football home of the LSU Tigers. Coincidentally, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA is also known as Death Valley.
However, the birth of LSU’s Death Valley stadium remains a mystery to most fans. There exists no clear cut agreement on when and where LSU’s Death Valley moniker was originally coined.
Some fans attribute LSU’s Death Valley name to the local Baton Rouge dialect’s pronunciation of Deaf Valley, which, ironically, is a gas station situated next to the actual football stadium where LSU played.
Fans near the gas station not only remember that it was impossible to hear when games were played in the monstrous stadium located next to the Deaf Valley gas station, but they also recall few visiting teams ever won at LSU.
When Louisianans described this experience to others outside the state, they sounded as if they said Death Valley instead of Deaf Valley.
Their unique dialect transformed the “f” into a “th” sound as they did when saying breath as “breaf”.
Tiger Stadium, or LSU’s Death Valley, is just as tough a place to play as Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC.
LSU’s 95,542 seat stadium was named the scariest place to play in college football by ESPN in 2007, and the NCAA called it the loudest in FBS stadium in 2013.
Whether you believe LSU’s theory about the origination of its Death Valley or hold true to the media facts supported by Clemson’s claim, let’s agree on this one unwavering detail.
Both college stadiums are not only incredibly loud.
But, based on both schools’ impressive home winning records, they’re also metaphoric graveyards for opposing teams who reluctantly come to visit either Death Valley.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!