In any other year, Notre Dame students storming the field after taking down No. 1 Clemson in double overtime would’ve been an exemplary moment of college football excitement. But, amid a global pandemic, the image of hundreds crowding the field sparked some heated controversy.
Notre Dame Stadium implemented an attendance policy that allows a maximum 20% capacity and gives priority to students “assuring that every student who wants to attend games will be able to do so.” Notre Dame students took full advantage as their team faced off against the Tigers in the prime time, top-5 matchup. The full 20% seemed to be on the field surrounding the team after the game.
Notre Dame – 47
Clemson – 40
— Tony Tsoukalas (@Tony_Tsoukalas) November 8, 2020
Tony Dungy joined ESPN’s ‘Keyshawn, J-Will, and Zubin’ on Monday to discuss his take on the questionable field rush. The former Indianapolis Colts coach had mixed feelings about it all.
“It’s so hard,” Dungy said. “We were sitting there. You could just feel the emotions. You’ve got young 18-, 19-, 20-year old students and it’s hard to corral that. Could Notre Dame have had more security there? To me, it was just a natural, emotional response. I don’t think people were thinking clearly. Obviously after the fact they were thinking ‘this might not be the right thing to do.’ But there was a lot of emotion in that stadium. I just don’t know how you control that.”
It’s definitely hard to blame the Notre Dame students for their excitement, but a certain level of responsibility was lacking from both fans and the university on Saturday night. There seemed to be very little effort by stadium staff and security to keep the students from rushing the field.
On Sunday, Notre Dame president John Jenkins wrote a letter to the students condemning their actions. All students will undergo a mandated COVID-19 test before they go home on break.
“As exciting as last night’s victory against Clemson was, it was very disappointing to see evidence of widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings over the weekend. After consulting with Dr. Mark Fox, St. Joseph County’s Deputy Health Officer, we have determined that we must take the following steps,” Jenkins wrote regarding the mandated tests.
Obviously, everyone’s health is a concern. But from a football standpoint, Notre Dame should be concerned about their players’ health moving forward.
Brian Kelly even warned his team before the game that a field rush was a possibility. The Notre Dame players failed to follow their coaches orders to get off the field quickly.
“I had told our team, and again,” Kelly said. “I’m doing a lot of things I probably shouldn’t be doing, but I told our team at our walkthrough today, I said, ‘Listen, I just want you to know, when we win this thing, the fans are going to storm the field and with COVID being is as it is, we got to get off the field and get to the tunnel’. Now I beat them all to the tunnel, so that didn’t go over so good.”
At 7-0, the Fighting Irish are now the No. 2 team in the country. Barring any widespread COVID-19 outbreaks, Notre Dame will face Boston College this Saturday.
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