Monday, October 15, 2007

Storming the Field

I thought it was funny when Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky's AD, sent out an email last week with this statement regarding storming the field should Kentucky upset LSU:

Dear UK Fan:
Coach Brooks often speaks about the commitment his team has made to be successful. With his pledge to excellence also comes the responsibility of the fans to support the team but to do it with class and dignity. Everyone affiliated with the University couldn't be happier with the overwhelming support the fans have given the coaches and the team.

As a reminder, SEC and University of Kentucky policies strictly prohibit spectators from entering the competition areas at any time before, during, or after a game. UK's field surface is among the nation's best. When fans rush the field it compromises the integrity of that surface and risks the health and safety of the same players that fans are intending to celebrate. Please continue to enjoy the wins from your seat.

LSU brings the nation's number one team to Commonwealth at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, so it will be another difficult test for our team. Coach Brooks often remarks about the difference the home crowd makes for the team. Please support the Wildcats by entering the stadium early, supporting our team, and practicing patience in the parking lots before and after the game.

From the diehard fan's perspective the win over LSU wasn't just a celebration of one game. It was vindication, retribution, revenge, and exorcism of past losses -- many, many of them -- that people were celebrating. After Kentucky stopped LSU on downs in the third OT, I just jumped up and shouted, "They did it!" over and over again. I couldn't believe that Kentucky had finally overcome the years of losing this game, this very game. And I'm just a fan watching at home -- imagine if you're these players and coaches trying to undo this habitual losing mindset.

After Kentucky's monumenal upset when thousands of fans stormed the field in celebration I chuckled to myself remembering Mitch's email. In reality I think Barnhart could make one phone call to a big booster and get a $25,000 check delivered to the athletic department that day to pay these fines assessed to schools when their fans storm the field.

So I feel for Mitch having to answer to SEC and NCAA officials each time the fans storm the field. It is an issue of safety, although I would argue that it's not that dangerous now that the grounds crew takes the goalposts down immediately. Personally I think Mitch secretly could care less about fans storming the field as it means UK's football team is doing unprecedented things, but he probably has to send that email out.

I have watched this video clip countless times. I love the roar of the crowd after the TD catch and defensive stop. What a thrill. Go Big Blue!

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