WATCH: Tennessee fans throw trash on the field, delaying Ole Miss game by 20 minutes after referee call
Tennessee fans littered the grounds of Neyland Stadium with all kinds of trash after a bullet point late in the fourth quarter led the Volunteers to miss a long conversion to the fourth against the visiting quarterback n ° 13 Ole Miss. Flights Hendon Hooker hit Jacob Warren for 23 yards in the fourth and 24 with 54 seconds left on a game that was confirmed after video review.
The replay looked close after several camera angles, and fans in Tennessee didn’t like it. This is when things took a turn for the worse on Rocky Top. Crowds littered the field with garbage, causing a delay of more than 20 minutes as authorities tried to bring the situation under control.
Ole coach Miss Lane Kiffin was hit with a golf ball. Fans threw in water bottles, beer cans, vape pens, pizza boxes, and even – notably – an entire container of mustard. The players rushed to the center of the field to avoid the debris, and the garbage throw got so bad that the cheerleaders came out, the Tennessee dance team ran through the tunnel holding signs over their heads and the Tennessee group came out of the stands.
In short, it was potentially the most embarrassing display of the season.
What makes matters worse is that Tennessee still had an outside chance to win the game. The Vols had all three timeouts after turnover on the downs and stressed the Rebels’ defense to a point where several players hit the pitch with cramps in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee actually recovered the ball in midfield after a long punt return, but Hooker suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury after converting on a first down. Joe Milton came in as a substitute but couldn’t get the ball into the end zone as Ole Miss won 31-26.
“I don’t know if I’m more excited that we found a way to win, or that I wasn’t hit with the golf balls they were throwing at me,” Kiffin said after the game.
Kiffin took the golf ball with him off the course and threw his visor into the stands as he walked into the tunnel after catching a water bottle thrown at his head.
Tennessee athletic director Danny White released a statement on the fans’ actions at the end of the game.
“Our Tennessee fan base had so much to be proud of through 59 minutes of Saturday night football – they created one of the best live sporting event atmospheres I’ve ever experienced – but what s ‘going in the last minute of the game was unacceptable, “said White mentioned. “The safety of players and fans is paramount at all times. While I am incredibly proud of our team’s efforts on the pitch, I am disappointed that their relentless performances were overshadowed in the final moments of the match by the actions of many. fans whose actions do not represent the volunteer spirit or the true character of our university. On behalf of the University of Tennessee, I would like to apologize to the Ole Miss football program and congratulate their student-athletes for a relentless victory. “
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey also intervened.
“The Conference set expectations for behavior and sportsmanship, and the actions of the fans in Saturday night’s game were unacceptable under any circumstances,” said Sankey. “We are used to intense competition every week, but it is by no means acceptable to endanger contest participants and disrupt a match. We will review existing Conference policies and the commissioner’s power to enforce sanctions and contacting the leadership of the University of Tennessee – and all SEC member universities – to ensure this does not happen again. “
Finally, Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman released a statement on Twitter expressing her disappointment.
“I am astonished and sickened by the behavior of some of the Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game”, she wrote. “Good sportsmanship has to be part of who we are as volunteers. We will not tolerate behavior that endangers student athletes, coaches, visitors and other fans. “