I suspect this isn’t the beginning of a trend, but try as I might, I couldn’t find fault with what Stewart Mandel wrote in his Mailbag about The Celebration. Here is his most pertinent point:
… For those who say it was “classless,” first of all, I can tell you from first-hand interaction that Richt is one of the classiest coaches in the profession. Secondly, all he actually told his guys to do was celebrate a touchdown. They didn’t taunt Florida; in fact, they never even looked the Gators’ way. And most importantly, there was no intent to hurt anybody.
While Richt’s directive may have involved a more literal rules violation, think about all the pregame speeches that go on in locker rooms every week where the coach tells his team to “hit ‘em in the mouth,” or “show them who’s tougher,” etc. While those words include no explicit instructions to break any rules, inevitably, a couple guys will get carried away, make a late hit, start jawing at somebody, etc., and draw a 15-yard flag of their own. To me, that’s a far more dangerous and classless head game to play than jumping up and down after a touchdown.
On the other hand, maybe I owe Franz Beard an apology for mocking the statement in his letter to Mike Slive that Richt risked a riot breaking out in the stands by allowing his players to run out on the field. Obviously, Mr. Beard is far more aware of the reckless behavior of Gator fans at football games than I am. It must be a cause of serious concern. Otherwise, why would UF find it necessary to institute a code of conduct?
Florida instituted a code of conduct for Gators fans five seasons ago. Since then, a handful of fans are ejected from each home game because of disorderly conduct, anything from spitting at someone to shoving people to using profane language, said Capt. Jeff Holcomb of the university’s police department.
Natalie Gonzalez, Florida coordinator of operations and facilities, said the school implemented its “Gator Fans Code of Conduct” to treat visiting fans with respect.
“No! It’s the guy in the next seat over that spit! The one with the mullet!”
I had no idea things were so dicey. Thanks for your concern, Franz.