There was no way Lane Kiffin’s return to Tennesse would avoid the headlines, it was just a matter of why.
As it turned out, it wasn’t because of anything Kiffin, now the coach at Ole Miss, said or did before, during or after the game. Rather, it was because of the myriad of objects Tennesee fans threw on the field and at Kiffin towards the end of the Vols’ eventual 31-26 loss to Ole Miss. The flying debris, including a golf ball, hit Kiffin and caused the band and dance teams to vacate the field.
DECOURCY: If fans trash Neyland again, empty the stadium
The fallout from the incident continued Monday when the SEC levied a $250,000 fine against the school and announced that 18 people had been arrested.
Tennessee has been fined $250,000 for fans interrupting Saturday’s game vs. Ole Miss.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) October 18, 2021
The conference also handed down several other edicts and mandates for the Vols to follow in the coming weeks and months.
MORE: SEC releases statement following incident in Tennesee-Ole Miss game
Tennesee athletic director Danny White put out a statement in which he said what happened wasn’t indicative of the Vols’ fan base as a whole, but said he understood the punishment.
Neyland Stadium will still be able to serve alcohol at games, though the SEC is willing to revisit that decision should Tennesee fail to comply with any of the stipulations laid out.
Initial reports also indicate that in addition to the 18 people arrested, 47 were ejected in response to what happened. The arrests were made by various agencies and police departments, but it’s not currently known how many of the 18 people arrested were students.
However, there’s also reason to suspect that the incident didn’t start in the student section.
MORE: What did fans throw at Lane Kiffin?
The more people I’ve talked to who were in the stands at Neyland last night, the more I’m convinced that the trash tossing did NOT start with the students, but with the upper deck above them.
Some students joined in, for sure, but IDing them as the main culprits might be wrong.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) October 18, 2021
This wasn’t the only SEC matchup in recent weeks to involve a coach getting struck by something or someone. Fans stormed the field in College Station after Texas A&M upset Alamaba 41-38 last week and Alabama coach Nick Saban apparently was struck during the chaos.
Asked Nick Saban what it’s like to be involved when fans storm the field and if the SEC is doing enough to protect coaches and fans. He holds up his arm and shows bruise he got at Texas A&M. Says it’s up to institutions to create a safe environment.
— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) October 18, 2021
Tennesee doesn’t return to Neyland until Nov. 13 when No. 1 ranked Georgia comes to Knoxville.