National Champions

National Champions

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24th Clemson Historic Picture Of The Day

Clemson Football At Riggs Field In The 1930’s

(Photo Uploaded By Alan Cutts)

Today’s photo is from the 1930’s and is of the Clemson Tigers playing an unknown opponent at the original location for football at Clemson…Riggs Field.

Clemson was coached in the 1930’s by Jess Neely. Neely (a former head coach at Rhodes and assistant at Alabama) became Clemson's head football coach. During his tenure. Neely led the Tigers to a 43-35-7 record and his final season at Clemson was the turning point in the Tigers' program.

His team went 9-1 during that season, finishing second to Duke in the Southern Conference. The Tigers also received their first bowl invitation and bowl victory that year, defeating nationally ranked Boston College 6-3 in the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic. The 1939 Tigers finished with a #12 ranking in the final AP poll.

Clemson also had their first Associated Press All-American that year in Banks McFadden. Jess Neely, along with then athletic director Dr. Rupert Fike, founded the IPTAY Scholarship Fund, which supports the Clemson Athletic Department.

Memorial Stadium (Death Valley) was constructed against the wishes of the late and former Clemson Head Coach Jess Neely. Just before leaving for Rice University after the 1939 season, he told Frank Howard, "Don't ever let them talk you into building a big stadium. Put about 10,000 seats behind the YMCA. That's all you'll ever need."

Despite this, the University decided it was time to build a new stadium. They chose to build in the valley in the western part of campus. On April 3, 1941, the South Carolina General Assembly ratified an act authorizing a $150,000 bond issue for the new stadium, and the bill went to Governor Burnet R. Maybank for signature. The original 20,000 seat stadium was constructed for $125,000 or $6.25 a seat.

The picture from Riggs Field had a grainy quality to it, as would be expected from picture from that era. Here is another picture from the 1930’s showing the type of camera that would have been used for the picture of the Clemson football team on Riggs Field.

Scott Rhymer can be reached at