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Security officials try to keep goal post celebrations a thing of the past

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Fans rush the field at Ohio Stadium following a 14-9 OSU victory against Michigan on Nov. 23, 2002. Credit: Courtesy of John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer

Fans rush the field at Ohio Stadium following a 14-9 OSU victory against Michigan on Nov. 23, 2002. Credit: Courtesy of John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer

It was a big game and University of Mississippi fans jumped onto the field to celebrate. But they didn’t stop there.

After beating No. 3 University of Alabama on Oct. 4, 23-17, fans successfully tore the Ole Miss goal posts down and carried them around campus as part of a celebration.

It’s something that’s been done throughout college football’s history, but it’s also a scene security officials at Ohio State try to prevent.

After OSU games, officers form triangle-shaped barriers around the goal posts to keep fans off and out of harm’s way.

“The safety of fans is our highest priority,” said University Police Chief Paul Denton. “Consequently, our objective is not necessarily to guard property, but to prevent fans from being injured by climbing onto the goal posts and falling off, or by tearing down the goal post, thus risking injury to the thousands of fans that may be celebrating on the field.” 

But barriers or not, it’s happened before at Ohio Stadium.

In 2002, fans tried to tear the goal posts down. After beating rival Michigan, 14-9, on Nov. 23, 2002, and going undefeated for the season, fans tried to take down the south goal post in Ohio Stadium, but Ohio State Highway Patrol stopped them with pepper spray. 

The last time OSU fans successfully pulled the goal posts down was more than 15 years ago.

On Nov. 16, 1996, the Buckeyes were leading Indiana University, 27-17, and looking to complete the victory that would take them to the Rose Bowl. With 19 seconds left in the game, OSU fans poured onto Indiana’s Memorial Stadium field and tore down one of the goal posts.

Andy Geiger, OSU’s athletic director at the time, described the fans as “out of control.”

After fans took down the south goal post, they shifted to the other side of the stadium. But Indiana football players stopped in their tracks on the way to their locker room and guarded the other post.

After Indiana players were forced off the field, “guard duty was passed on to parents, fans and the over 200 former Indiana football players who came back for (the then-IU coach’s) final home game,” according to The Lantern archives.

Mike Rudner, assistant commissioner for the Big Ten at the time, said he couldn’t remember the last time a visiting team took down the home team’s goal post.

Indiana planned to bill OSU for the damages at the time, and the goal post was valued at $1,500, according to The Lantern archives.

The last time the posts were torn down in Ohio Stadium was also after a win that landed OSU a spot in the Rose Bowl.

On Nov. 23, 1968, OSU fans swarmed the field and tore down the goal posts after beating rival University of Michigan, 50-14.

Similarly to Mississippi fans, OSU fans carried the steel posts out of the stadium to the State Capitol grounds, where they tried to re-erect the posts on the Ohio Statehouse lawn.

Police eventually led the parade of students and the goal posts back to campus, according to The Lantern archives.

Some students said tearing down goal posts is a novelty.

Colin Evans, a fourth-year in strategic communication, laughed at the idea of students tearing down the posts, but said he would never go through with it.

“I would not (tear them down). I would watch and encourage everyone who was, but I don’t think I’d have the balls to bring them down,” Evans said.

Victoria Dorony, a third-year in English, said she doesn’t really understand the practice but wouldn’t be opposed to trying it herself.

“If it is for the love of football, and after a big win, then I do not see why not,” she said.

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