When the news first broke Wednesday, it left Clemson fans near and far wondering, "why?"
Who would do such a thing? Why would someone do such a thing? And why now?
Who would take the time to not only break into Death Valley, but do so with the intention of smashing the case that has protected it for the better part of 20 years, and then chip off an enormous chuck of the back side?
The thing is, it's not like The Rock itself can be repaired or replaced.
It's not a flawless football field that's been torn up by careless teenagers on some random joyride. It's not a wall that can be given a fresh coat of paint after some idiot slaps graffiti all over it in the middle of the night.
Howard's Rock is a one-of-a-kind college football tradition. And it has been scarred forever.
Oh sure, if you aren't a Clemson fan, you probably don't get it. But for someone that grew up a fan of the Tigers, graduated from Clemson and has now covered Clemson athletics for more than 11 years, it sure means something to me.
|"Howard's Rock is a one-of-a-kind college football tradition. And it has been scarred forever."|
Coach Howard told his players afterwards, "If you aren't going to give me 110 percent, keep your filthy hands off of my rock."
It's a sound bite that is still played in Death Valley before every game to this very day. And if you are a Clemson fan, it likely gives you goose bumps simply reading the sentence ushered by Coach Howard nearly 50 years ago.
Now it's been tarnished.
I don't know who did it, but Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich issued a statement Wednesday evening clearly indicating, "Police are investigating."
He also added, "We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously."
Good. I hope they catch whoever is responsible.
Because in the grand scheme of things, there are certain traditions in college football that can never be replaced. This is one of them.
This is history. Clemson history.
Yes, the team will still come running down the hill every fall for all its home games. And the Tigers will still touch the rock as they always they do.
There just won't be as much of it now.
By the way, for those that don't remember, this is actually the second time The Rock has been vandalized. Shortly before the 1992 Clemson South Carolina game, a smaller piece was chipped away as well.
Since then, the Clemson Army ROTC has protected it for the 24 hours prior to the annual grudge match when it's played in Death Valley. ROTC cadets deliver a constant drum cadence around the rock prior to the game, which can be heard across campus.
Who knew that now they need to do that year round?
Who knew that the glass casing put around Clemson's prized tradition some 20 years ago wasn't enough to stop idiots from doing something like this again?
It was a disgusting act of vandalism.
Who would do something like this?