College football predictions: Hey Tennessee, rushing the field after beating Alabama was dumb
By all accounts, Tennessee’s win over Alabama last week was the greatest event in that state since the birth of Dolly Parton. Tens of thousands of cigar-smoking fans rushed the field, tore down the goal posts and threw them into the Tennessee River.
It was a momentous scene, college football at its finest, the kind of thing that will be talked about for generations.
It was also dumb.
Fan lunacy was understandable. The real dummies were Tennessee administrators who got caught up in the moment.
Didn’t their moms ever tell them, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye or gets conked in the head by a falling goalpost.”?
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I ignored that advice like every other kid, but it’s true. The history of goal-posts stampedes is checkered with a legacy of broken bones, fractured skulls and even deaths.
That’s why the SEC fines schools for allowing such mayhem. It’s $50,000 for the first offense, $100,000 for the second and $250,000 for the third.
Tennessee got socked 100 grand this week. Vols AD Danny White is naturally turning it into a marketing opportunity, seeking donations in ways sure to fire up the base.
Fans can donate $16 in honor of the losing streak that was broken, $52.49 to match the final score, $1,019.15 to match the capacity at Neyland Stadium.
When asked about the fine, UT President Randy Boyd said, “It doesn’t matter. We’ll do this every year.”
So much for having adults in the room.
Crowd control is possible if administrators are serious about it, and not many are. Alabama and Florida are the only SEC schools that have never had their fields rushed.
The Boyds of the world seem to consider injured fans collateral damage. Merely the price a few must pay for many to have a big time.
No one was seriously injured last Saturday, though video showed Alabama receiver Jermaine Burton apparently popping a female fan in the head. Repercussions are expected.
“This is why we have these rules," an SEC official told ESPN. "It was a great scene, but it's also a recipe for disaster when you have emotional players walking off the field and fans running around by them and celebrating.”
You expect that out of fans. You expect more out of the people who are supposed to be watching out for them.
Speaking of failed expectations, I went 6-4 last week. If this doesn’t improve, I’ll throw myself into Lake Alice.
David Whitley's predictions
UT Martin at Tennessee – If UT Martin wins and its fans storm the field, tear down the goalposts and march them 330 miles back to their campus, I’d gladly pay for new goalposts and post bail for everyone Knoxville police arrest. Alas, I think my money is safe. Tennessee 47-17.
Mississippi State at Alabama – I have complete faith that Bama’s defense will not allow five TD passes this week. Four maybe, but not five. That should be good enough, unless the Tide again commits 17 penalties. If that happens, Nick Saban might go Jermaine Burton on his entire team. Alabama 36-18.
Vanderbilt at Missouri – The Commodores hold the NCAA record of approximately 933 straight games without opposing fans tearing down the goal posts after a victory. The streak goes on. Missouri 33-17.
Texas A&M at South Carolina – If A&M drops to 3-4, school officials will start asking for donations of $0.12 to match the Aggies’ scoring average since Jimbo Fisher took over. Multiply that by about 2.9 billion, and they’ll have enough to buy out Jimbo’s contract. Upset Special – South Carolina 19-17.
Expect Gators to cover spread during bye
Bonus Prediction: Florida will allow only six third-down conversions against Bye Week U.
Syracuse at Clemson – The last time ‘Cuse was 6-0 and faced a 6-0 or better team was 1959. The Orangemen beat Penn State and went on to win the national championship. Do not look for history to repeat itself. Clemson 39-17.
Kansas State at TCU – Texas Christian has quietly risen to No. 8. We should all pull for the unbeaten Horned Frogs to win out and trigger the usual outrage when two or three SEC teams make the playoffs and TCU doesn’t. TCU 30-28.
Ole Miss at LSU – The Rebels have quietly risen to No. 7 because everyone’s been fixating on Tennessee. If they beat a hot LSU team on the road, we’ll have to start paying attention. Course, the Tigers won’t have the disadvantage of playing against Florida’s defense this week. Ole Miss 27-24.
UCLA at Oregon – UCLA has quietly risen to No. 10, but nobody notices because it’s not USC. Can the Bruins handle an improving Ducks team in front of a wild crowd? Oregon 27-21.
Duke at Miami – These teams have quietly combined to go 7-6, which is why the Hard Rock Stadium crowd will be able to fit inside UT Martin’s cafeteria. Hurricanes fans who show up will wonder why they bothered. Duke 24-17.
UCF at East Carolina – The Knights have quietly risen to 5-1 but aren’t ranked because they’re the Knights. In honor of former AD Danny White, UCF will declare itself national champion if it beats the Pirates. UCF 33-23.
David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley