College football fans rush the field. It’s just a part of the game’s traditions. Typically, it’s after a big win at home over a highly-ranked team. If Michigan ever beats Ohio State at home you’d better believe the field will be packed with folks in maize and blue.
Upset wins often lead to field-storming events. Have the Alabama Crimson Tide come to town? Did you score a surprise win? By all means, rush that field! In fact, Kansas Jayhawks fans recently stormed the field after they beat FCS school South Dakota because, well, you take the good moments when you get them.
Then, there’s the team down in the ACC where fans can’t help but jump the wall after every home game. Why do the Clemson Tigers rush the field after every home win and how did it begin?
Why Do Clemson Fans Always Rush the Field?
Down in South Carolina, head coach Dabo Swinney has built an NCAA powerhouse that has won national championships and made regular appearances in the College Football Playoff. Because Clemson football is always near the top of the college football rankings, networks like ESPN often pay visits to Memorial Stadium, aka Death Valley.
As such, you may have seen the Tigers on TV plenty of times. The football team has a lot of traditions, from touching Howard’s Rock before games to entering the field by coming down “The Hill.” At the end of the game, though, fans have their own tradition. It involves storming the field.
Now, doing it after a big win probably makes sense. Back in the day it used to mean something to beat Florida State, so why not rush the field? However, Clemson fans do it after every game at Memorial Stadium. They’ll do it if they beat Miami or Notre Dame, and they have, but they will also do it against a lowly team like Boston College. In fact, back in 2011 they took the field after beating a Boston College team that finished 4-8, which raised eyebrows.
If you look into it, though, it becomes less puzzling. The fans are not truly “rushing the field.” It’s tradition, and the fans are invited. That’s why security doesn’t really try and stop them or the ACC doesn’t penalize them. Since 2003, fans have been invited to come down to the field after every home game to join the players on the field at “The Paw” and sing the school’s alma mater. Swinney even lists it as a school tradition on his own website.
While the tradition wasn’t officially put in place until 2003, it has been happening since the 1950s. Additionally, for fans it’s also a way to exit the game. A lot of fans will take the field, sing “Alma Mater,” walk through the end zone, and then head up “The Hill” to exit the stadium. Everything is relatively chill.
It doesn’t matter if the matchup is with a top-10 team or an also-ran, fans in Clemson will take the field. If they won they will celebrate, sure, but win or lose the fans take the field, and they aren’t rushing it. When you are seeing it for the first time it may be puzzling, but once you are used to it then it begins to make sense. If you want to complain about Clemson as an ACC fan, complain about all the NFL talent and future Heisman candidates they recruit.
Now, this is a tradition that takes place at home games, so if they are on a neutral field in a place like Charlotte or one of the big stadiums in Dallas or Houston, it’s a different story. Security would have a say if Clemson fans tried to take the field. Also, of course, last year was a different story due to the pandemic and the way it affected game attendance. We didn’t get the same sights of Clemson fans flooding the field. Hopefully it’s the last season where that is the case.
In the 2021 season opener, the Clemson Tigers faced off with the Georgia Bulldogs in a battle of top-five teams. D.J. Uiagalelei, replacing Jacksonville Jaguars pick Trevor Lawrence, and company failed to produce a touchdown in a loss to kick off their season, settling for a single field goal. That game took place in Charlotte, but had it happened in Death Valley we would have seen running backs, wide receivers and linebackers joining in with fans to sing on the field.
When Clemson lost a stunner to NC State in 2021, they were on the wrong side of a field-rushing game:
Fans of other big schools like LSU and Oklahoma will storm the field on occasion, but these teams have to be careful. Arkansas was actually fined $100,000 by the SEC after fans rushed the field to celebrate a win over Texas.
That’s not a problem for Clemson fans. They are invited on the field after every home game. Just don’t call it rushing the field. Fans are as welcome down there after the game as members of the coaching staff or players on the offensive line are. Or as welcome as Tom Brady in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers bar.
The next time you see Clemson fans rush the field in Death Valley, you’ll know they’re really not “rushing the field” the way you think.