Bus-bashing backfires

Some lunatic-fringe LSU fans unwittingly played a key role in Tennessee's Monday night victory in Baton Rouge.

As the Vols' final team bus pulled up to Tiger Stadium prior to the game, several overzealous LSU fans pelted it with rocks and beer bottles, foul language and obscene gestures. The scare tactics backfired. Instead of being intimidated, Tennessee's players were motivated by the classless gesture.

"When we drive up to the stadium and people are throwing rocks and beer and everything else at the bus, and shooting you birds going in, it gets our guys ready to play," Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer agreed, noting: "That didn't do anything but fire us up."

Since the emotionally charged Vols upset the fourth-ranked Tigers 30-27 in overtime, a reporter facetiously asked Fulmer if he might consider spicing up the "Vol Walk" that precedes UT's home games.

Fulmer's response was classic: "By handing out beer?"

Upon learning of Monday night's ugly pre-game incident, LSU athletics director Skip Bertman sent a letter of apology to Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton. That letter reads as follows:

Dear Mike,

Congratulations on a great effort by the Tennessee football team on Monday night.

While the football game was exciting, I am especially writing to express my sincere apology and regret to you, your president and all Tennessee fans for the incident which took place on our campus as your team buses were approaching Tiger Stadium.

As you know, there is unfortunately an element in every crowd that does not exhibit good sportsmanship, and when crowds grow to the size of those on a football game day, it takes only a very small percentage of offenders to ruin the day for so many.

As I am sure you are proud of Tennessee's following, we are extremely proud of our fans at LSU. Their enthusiasm and loyalty to our program make our many successes possible, and it is the passionate base of fans in the SEC that makes our league truly unique. I think you will find that an overwhelming majority of LSU fans respect and enjoy healthy competition with fans from other schools.

The offenders you encountered on Monday night are not representative of the many great fans we have at LSU. They are the unfortunate few who do not understand that their embarrassing and insulting behavior reflects poorly on LSU's athletics program and does nothing to lend support to our team.

We are working hard to address the problem presented by the small percentage of people who, by their actions, damage the reputation of an entire University. We will continue to work to make LSU football an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone who attends our athletics events, regardless of the school colors they wear.

Sincerely,

Skip Bertman, LSU Athletics Director


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