Since Nick Saban turned Alabama into an assembly line of NFL talent, defeating his program has become a championship in and of itself. A victory that results in SEC programs forking over large sums of money for being in violation of the conference rule that prohibits student sections from rushing the field.
LSU already had to pay $250,000 last month when its fans rushed out of the stands following a victory against then No. 7 Ole Miss. The fine is progressive, so the bill for Saturday night might hit $500,000, but surely LSU was ready for it. There was no way the students were going to stay in their seats after a night win against Alabama.
An expense that LSU made sure would not be incurred, however, was one for a new goal post. After Tennessee upset Alabama at home in October, the fans removed a set of uprights from Neyland Stadium, and following an evening as the star of the party in Knoxville, it ended up in the Tennessee River.
In case that moment gave LSU students some bright ideas, the school made sure that everything that was supposed to be in Tiger Stadium would remain there. A reserve police officer who is built like an air conditioner kept one of college football’s rowdiest crowds from leaving with a goal post.
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That man is one of the few people not employed by the UFC who I would give a chance in a wrestling match with Ed Orgeron. As wild as people can be after dark in that stadium, there is not enough liquid courage available in the entire state of Louisiana to get a group of co-eds to try and take on that level boss.
To replace its stolen goal post, Tennessee put together a Kickstarter campaign that was successful. The goal was to crowdsource $150,000. It was reached in two days and the Kickstarter was closed at $161,229. Surely, one of Tennessee’s boosters could’ve gotten a tax write-off for buying the goal post themselves, but hey the public stole it so make them pay for it.
There is not much charm left in college football these days, as the business side of it has become naked with conference realignment and now NIL. NCAA President Mark Emmert has made Roger Goodell look like a Salvation Army Santa by comparison over the last 15 years. All of the tradition and pageantry that makes college football such a compelling product, even though the quality of play is much worse than the NFL, is being obscured by sheets of cash.
Seeing a mass of students swarm the field after a big win makes the sport almost appear like it has a heart. A bunch of kids, who don’t quite know yet that the games are far more business than school spirit, get to be excited and take part in a moment that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Young people having a good time with some football.
But there do need to be boundaries, and LSU made it clear. That boundary was that mass of Louisiana man in front of that goal post.