A fine fix: Routinely win big games
At some point Saturday, perhaps caught up in the moment, safety Ed Paris yelled to his fellow LSU students, "Don’t worry!!! I’ll pay the fine!!!"
So it was all good. Party on.
The Tigers had just upset Georgia 36-16, and thousands from the student section — some of whom appeared to have been in college for 20-25 years — joined the players on the field for an impromptu hoedown.
None seemed to be worried that the Southeastern Conference has these rules and by golly it intends to enforce them, including the one that calls for a hefty monetary fine when entire student sections relocate to the playing field postgame.
No one is sure why. Maybe it’s to avoid embarrassment.
In 2002, Kentucky students rushed the field to celebrate an upset of LSU — a half-second premature, as it were — and it all it got them was a groundside view of Devery Henderson catching the Bluegrass Miracle.
There seemed to be no harm done at LSU following the Georgia win. Some would call it "campus bonding" or, slightly more troubling, "college students being college students."
But if this was "storming the field," then civil defense should study the tactics for reference in efficiently evacuating large populations.
It was a stroll in the park compared to the traffic jam brewing outside the stadium.
A few of the clumsier accounting majors found the low restraining wall a bit of a challenge. But for the most part it was orderly, all in fun and mostly a polite stampede, in a ladies-first sort of way.
Most everybody got a selfie to cap the day. What more can you ask for out of college?
Oh, sure, they had been warned by the public address announcer to please refrain from taking the field. Oh, yeah, that was going to work.
But LSU was doing its due diligence.
Even as the stream started, there was the reminder that the school could be fined by Big Brother in Birmingham.
Apparently rebellious school spirit trumps fiscal responsibility every time.
Big surprise there, huh?
And, besides, one of the upset’s own heroes, Paris, had just assured the student body that he was footing the bill, so what’s the problem?
A couple of police officers stood nonchalant watch over the goal posts, not because the double posts are sacred but because they tend to snap when pulled upon by the manpower of hundreds and somebody could really get hurt.
Everybody seemed cool with that. Kids today, huh? They didn’t challenge the authorities, they high-fived them.
Then it was …
OK, (let’s make a deal?), Students let’s please clear the field in, say, 5 minutes. They were kind enough to set the game clock to 5 minutes as a reminder.
And it was on to the next party.
But now it’s a couple of days later, time to pay the piper.
OK, Mr. Paris, let’s see. The final tab comes to, uh … here it is … $100,000, American money. Cash or cashier’s check, please.
And I don’t think it’s tax deductible.
Sorry. Maybe you can talk to the front office about an installment plan …
LSU was thinking it might get off for $50,000, which is kind of the entry fee for such behavior.
But it turns out the school qualifies as a repeat offender — when fines are doubled — having done this sort of thing as recently as 2014 against … Ole Miss.
Wait a minute.
You stormed the field after beating Ole Miss?
Rush the field after beating Ole Miss and, OK, the fine is only $50,000, but you also lose your man card — even if the Rebels were allegedly ranked No. 3 that night.
But let us work on the theory that LSU officials did not hold Ed Paris to his youthful boast.
Money is not the problem.
LSU can find that kind of petty cash hidden between the couch cushions.
But I checked, and if it happens again — uh, Alabama will be in town in three weeks — the third offense would be $250,000.
So pretty soon, you’re talking real money here.
That’s quite a cash kitty building up for the SEC staff party fund — just kidding, it goes to conference’s postgraduate scholarship fund.
What they expect the schools do to prevent this, I have no idea.
But here’s one suggestion.
It’s not up to school administrations to better educate against the dangers of peaceful assembly, and it’s certainly not up to security to better restrain it (and probably turn a bunch of harmless mingling around into a riot).
It’s up to head coach Ed Orgeron and program.
The way you stop the masses from rushing the field after a big victory is to make big victories routine in Tiger Stadium again.
Saturday was a start.
<em>Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank"><strong>email@example.com</strong></a></em>