It wasn’t a good Saturday night for the University of Tennessee from a PR standpoint.
And after a year where nothing was normal anywhere, let alone with the fallen obsession with college football in the South, he told us that even the sport is not immune to the sometimes chaotic year. which we were slowly coming out of.
A nationally televised game between two of the best teams in this season of America’s Best College Football Conference probably featured best-known college football coach Lane Kiffin of the University of Mississippi.
Neyland Stadium was adorned in orange and white and had over 100,000 fans under the lights of Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a competitive game and the home team, Tennessee, rallied to tie or win the game as it drew to a close.
Then a controversial call from a match official goes against the home team and everything breaks out.
And, all of a sudden, southern college football fans are showing that they can be the same type of idiots as others who seem to show up more and more at sporting events in this country.
One need only be on Twitter for a few days during the NBA basketball season or during the MLB season to see viral videos of brawls breaking out in the stands between fans who seem to have drunk a little too much.
Campus police were working to identify fans who threw trash on the pitch during Saturday night’s game so they could be disciplined, with the possibility that students would be banned from attending. at future Tennessee games.
The visiting team and their cheerleaders were among the targets, creating a dangerous situation during a game between two former Southeastern Conference rivals.
Those responsible for the event had to evacuate the visiting side of the pitch as some of the 102,455 participants rained bottles and more on the Ole Miss football team and their coaches, including Kiffin.
The debris came mainly from the student section of Tennessee and included water and soda bottles, beer cans, pizza boxes, vape pens, liquor bottles, hot dogs and a bottle of mustard, according to The Knoxville News-Sentinel.
There was a story behind it. Kiffin, who spent most of his life in California, was an assistant coach at the University of Southern California during his national championship years in the early 2000s. After two disastrous seasons as the coach of the NFL Oakland Raiders, then-Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton fired Phillip Fulmer – after 16 seasons and the 1996 national championship – and hired Kiffin.
Kiffin had never shied away from bragging about his stint at USC and certainly must have made Hamilton aware of his desire to return if the USC job became available. Nonetheless, Hamilton hired Kiffin and he coached Tennessee for a year in 2008 before moving to USC to succeed former boss Pete Carroll.
Tennessee fans have apparently never forgotten or forgiven Kiffin for leaving Tennessee so abruptly. Saturday night’s game was Kiffin’s first return to Knoxville as a head coach, which of course added fuel to the fire.
But after a year in which the pandemic saw sports teams play in front of empty or nearly empty stadiums and riots broke out across the country over police gunfire, Saturday night’s action was not welcome,
According to the Associated Press, the directors of the SEC and the University of Tennessee have issued strong statements condemning the bottle-throwing scene at the end of the game.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in a post-match statement said “the actions of the fans in Saturday night’s game were unacceptable under any circumstances,” the AP reported.
“We are used to intense competition every week, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to endanger contest participants and disrupt a game.”
Sankey said the league would review existing conference policies and the commissioner’s power to impose sanctions and “communicate with management at the University of Tennessee – and all SEC member universities – to ensure that this situation will not happen again “.
On Monday afternoon, SEC officials announced that Tennessee would be fined $ 250,000 for unruly fan actions.
Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman said she was “astonished and disgusted by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game.”
“Behaviors that put student-athletes, visitors and other fans at risk are not something we will tolerate. Neyland Stadium has always been a place for families, and we will continue to do so. “
Hue is one thing. Stopping a match for 20 minutes by throwing potentially dangerous objects at a visiting team and its coach is another. And Tennessee fans have shown their backs on national television, giving the university another black eye for its athletics department.
The college that produced such a class acts like women’s basketball legend Pat Summitt and Tennessee and NFL legend Peyton Manning got an undeserved black eye on Saturday night from a few idiots who felt quite privileged afterwards. buying a ticket to endanger visitors to another university.
It should also be a lesson for students at other universities that they face the same penalties if they do the same.
Tom Spigolon is editor of The News. Contact him at [email protected]