BREAKING: Arrest made in conjunction with Howard’s Rock vandalism

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON — Clemson University police announced Friday afternoon an arrest of 18-year-old Micah Rogers of Pisgah Forest, N.C. in connection with the Howard’s Rock vandalism earlier this month.

Rogers has been charged with one felony: malicious injury to animals or personal property valued at more than $2,000, but less than $10,000; and one misdemeanor, trespassing, unlawful entry into enclosed places.

Captain Eric Hendricks made the announcement Friday afternoon, saying the suspect was identified by a witness.

The complete report from Friday’s press conference

Because Rogers’ white truck has a Clemson Tiger Paw sticker, and his home had Clemson paraphernalia, police believe Rogers’ motive was not that of a rival fan.

The investigation remains ongoing, and the broken portion of the rock – about 15 percent of the original artifact – has not been recovered.

Rogers appeared in Clemson University Municipal Court this morning and was released on $5,470 bail.

On June 20, campus cops released a still photograph and two videos of a white pickup truck approaching and departing the scene on the east side of Memorial Stadium, with three individuals appearing to get out of the truck at 11:22 p.m. on Sunday, June 2 and returning at 11:33 p.m.

The university previously announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of vandals — money raised through private funding by the athletic department. Clemson athletic department Dan Radakovich it would be awarded to the unnamed witness in the event of a conviction.

“On behalf of the athletic department and the football coaches and players,” Radakovich said, “I want to thank the Clemson University Police Department, the State Law Enforcement Division and the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office for acting in a swift, thorough manner with regards to the vandalism to Howard’s Rock. We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in the case.”

The complete report from Friday’s press conference

Tajh Boyd dishes on Johnny Manziel, Sammy Watkins and Howard’s Rock

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

Tajh BoydCLEMSON — Tajh Boyd is a humble dude. (I’ve never met him. But I’ve been told this countless times by people who have, and on the limited occasions I’ve heard him speak, I believe those people.)

Tajh Boyd is not necessarily a politically correct dude. And that’s just fine.

Tajh Boyd won’t walk up to you and say, “Hi, I’m the best quarterback in college football. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” But if you ask Tajh Boyd if he thinks he’s the best quarterback in college football – which Ryan Russillo did Tuesday on ESPN Radio – Boyd’s not shy to agree.

So that’s cool and all. Boyd’s got limitless potential this fall, and so does his team.

Clemson AD Dan Radakovich joins NCAA advisory council

If you just can’t get enough Tajh during the dead days of June when college football is as quiet as it ever gets … here are four more snippets Boyd shared yesterday on the radio.

On what advice he’d give Heisman winner Johnny Manziel about living his life in the limelight:

“For me, it’s all about staying humble and continuing to work. I know a lot of guys are the social type. I just try to be a good example for those guys. It’s never to a point where I allow myself to send an emotional tweet or be an emotional media type. He’s just got to kind ignore some of the stuff he’s getting from people.”

On how he handles a social media presence maturely and responsibly:

“It’s extremely difficult sometimes. Today, this is an opinionated country. You want to be able to speak yours as well. But when you’re in a position that you’re in, it comes with some things, and you can’t forget it. You’re almost an exception, being an athlete. You’ve got to hold yourself to that. As much as you want to say that you’re no different as anybody else, at the end of the day, you really are. And you’re given a platform, so any platform, you’ve got to take advantage of it, and use it as positive reinforcement. That’s how you’ve got to look at it.”

On the outlook for Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, looking to bounce back from a sophomore slump:

“Honestly, this has been the best summer I’ve seen him have so far. He’s been working as tirelessly as I’ve ever seen him work. And he knows how important he is to this program. Of course, there are going to be guys that have to step up for the team as well. But he’s handling himself like a veteran. He’s handled the controversy as well. He’s a crucial part to what we want to do and where we want to go. It’s going to take everybody to reach the goals we want to reach.”

On his thoughts about the Howard’s Rock vandalism:

“The thing that shocked me is we found out a few days ago, and it happened earlier in the month. I feel like maybe there should have been a little more attention to it. But it’s an unfortunate situation. We don’t really know who did it, so we can’t accuse anybody of it. Honestly, I think it’s one of the best traditions in college football. So it’s unfortunate that it happened, but we’ve got to control what we can and take it from there.”

Swinney: “It is very disappointing that someone would disrespect our unique tradition to this extent”

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON — Not too busy to notice the outrage around campus and the social media world, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney issued a statement regarding the defacing of Howard’s Rock in the midst of hosting his annual summer youth football camps.

Clemson police report reveals fingerprints were found in investigation of vandalism to Howard’s Rock

“It is very disappointing that someone would disrespect our unique tradition to this extent.  It is one of the iconic images of the game,” Swinney said. “I am sure Clemson police will investigate this thoroughly and hold the person accountable for this behavior.”

Because approximately 85 percent of the rock was still on its pedestal, the tradition of players rubbing the rock on their route down the hill in pregame ceremonies is not expected to change.

“Thankfully, most of Howard’s Rock is still intact and we will do what is necessary to protect it going forward,” Swinney said. “I know our coaches and players look forward to rubbing Howard’s Rock, running down the hill, and furthering one of the great traditions of college football when we open the season against Georgia on August 31.”

Clemson confirms Howard’s Rock damaged last week; university police investigating vandalism

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON — One of college football’s most touted traditions has been tampered.

Clemson University indicated Wednesday night university police are investigating damage done to Howard’s Rock, the famed fixture Tigers touch on their way down the Hill before football games. All Clemson released at this time is vandals broke into Memorial Stadium either June 2 (a Sunday) or June 3 (a Monday.)

That was the same weekend Clemson baseball was playing an NCAA regional in Columbia at South Carolina’s stadium, a regional won by the host Gamecocks. Youth football camps operated by Dabo Swinney and the Clemson coaching staff began last Wednesday.

A small portion of the rock was broken off and the glass casing was removed, but the pedestal itself was not damaged.

“We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich wrote in a statement. “Police are investigating.”

The week after South Carolina’s April 13 spring game, a painted Tiger Paw – Clemson’s longtime logo – was found painted on the field at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Three years ago, Toomer’s Oaks, the famed trees Auburn fans rolled with toilet paper following victories for decades, were poisoned by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke following Auburn’s 2010 SEC Championship victory. Updyke served 76 days in prison following a lengthy wait for his trial, and was released from his sentence Monday.

Howard’s Rock was unveiled as a part of Memorial Stadium, after being brought to campus by a fan from Death Valley, Calif., on Sept. 24, 1966. It remains a focal point of Clemson’s celebrated pre-game ritual.

Clemson plays at South Carolina – a series the Gamecocks have won four straight years – on Nov. 30.

University police did not have a further statement beyond Radakovich’s comments, though a spokesperson said the department hoped to have additional information to release Thursday.