There was a time in my college hoops writing career -- probably back when I was in college myself, actually -- where I took it upon myself, teller of hard truths, when and why college students could or could not rush the court following the end of a game.
I would rattle off all the silly little rules: No rushing if you're a historic blueblood, or the team you beat hails from a traditionally inferior program. No rushing if the team you beat isn't ranked. No rushing if your team is ranked. Essentially, I thought it was dumb to rush the court unless the result was a legitimately mind-blowing upset and/or the rush was totally spontaneous after a game-winning shot.
After a while, you realize telling college kids when they should and should not do something that involves them running, yelling, jumping around and mashing their bodies together in a mass of humanity is a losing proposition. Hey, college kids! Stop having fun! Yeah. That usually goes well.
All of which is a way of saying I don't get worked up about the proper court-storming etiquette anymore. If you want to debate the merits of decision-making in mobs of 20-year-olds, go for it, I guess? I have no interest in telling college students to do anything except "have fun."
Or so I thought.
In the midst of my nightly reading Monday, I came across the one projected instance of court-storming so ridiculous it actually caused me to break my one rule. It comes via the News-Gazette's Loren Tate, who, in responding to a Colin Cowherd rant on this topic Monday, actually asked whether it would be appropriate for Illinois fans to storm the court Wednesday if they beat -- wait for it -- Purdue. As in 12-12 Purdue.
Colin Cowherd, one of my favorite ESPN voices, joins those who feel these mob scenes are getting out of hand. Speaking from his studio -- you might feel different if you were present, Colin -- he criticized the outburst after Notre Dame’s five-OT defeat of Louisville (near 1 a.m. in South Bend, that’s reason enough to celebrate). He also questioned the Illini eruption after upsetting Indiana on Thursday.
“It’s an admission the other team is better,” Cowherd said.
Well, does anyone truly doubt that the Hoosiers are better? And Purdue certainly has been. The Boilermakers have beaten Illinois eight straight, and another win would give them two nine-game streaks in the last 18 years. They aren’t very good this year (12-12) but they spanked Illinois 68-61 on Jan. 2 -- call it a New Year’s hangover -- and have a way of defending that the Illini have yet to master.
At the start of the riff, the always-excellent Tate asks rhetorically:
Question of the day: Is it appropriate for Illini fans to rush the Assembly Hall court if they beat Purdue on Wednesday night?
Let me answer concretely: no. This is me drawing a line. No.
No. No. No. No.
Now let us never speak of this again.