You may have heard that Auburn defeated Alabama last weekend in the Iron Bowl, a triumphant victory that resounded across the state and the nation. Such milestones don’t come along all that often for Auburn these days, so the fans celebrated by storming the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Nice idea, but it’s going to cost the university a quarter of a million dollars in fines and require some extensive landscaping work.
You can understand fans’ enthusiasm; Auburn hadn’t beaten Alabama since 2013, and the victory may well have denied the Tide a slot in the College Football Playoff. But the fans, showing more passion than athleticism, had a little trouble clearing the hedges that surround the field.
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) November 26, 2017
As a result, both the hedges and the field are pretty chewed up, and Auburn is in the process of assessing the damage to both. A sweep of the hedges has turned up cellphones, sunglasses and other assorted paraphernalia left behind by revelers.
“The extent of the real damage will not be seen until the spring, when the Bermudagrass breaks dormancy,” Eric Kleypas, Auburn’s director of athletic turf and grounds, told the Opelika-Auburn News. “Then, we will know if the field can recover without the need for sod.” Crews will need to fertilize the bushes to help them recover, and may need to aerate the field to help it recover from getting stomped by tens of thousands of joyous Tiger fans.
The field-storming not only simulated the force of an earthquake, it triggered a $250,000 fine. The SEC has prohibited field-storming since 2004, and this marked Auburn’s third such violation of the rule. “Fans are expected to remain in the stands and avoid the safety concerns associated with rushing on to the playing field,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “We want exciting experiences around SEC games, but also seek to maintain a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, spectators and officials.”
This, of course, isn’t the first landscaping-related trauma associated with the Iron Bowl; several years ago, a fanatic Alabama fan poisoned Auburn’s famed Toomer Oaks. While the Jordan-Hare damage doesn’t appear as extensive, it has the distinction of being self-inflicted.
Auburn won’t be back in Jordan-Hare until 2018, so there’s plenty of time to get the field in shape. And if the Tigers bring back some new hardware for the trophy case, all will be forgiven.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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