By Jeffrey Swindoll
As many know by now, fans rushed the field at McLane Stadium after freshman kicker Chris Callahan nailed a game-winner as time expired to beat TCU on Saturday. This sparked a bit of controversy, asking whether fans should have rushed the field despite being the favorite heading into the game.
After being down 21 points with less than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, there is no denying that the Bears pulled off extraordinary feat on Saturday. Most of all, it was a dramatic victory at home over a rival school with huge national championship implications. I understand why some are taking issue, and I understand the idea behind the unwritten rule of not rushing the field unless it’s an upset. However, unwritten rules also have gray area. Saturday fell in the gray area. I believe no response could have made more sense than Baylor fans rushing the field.
Before the ball was even kicked off, Saturday was already a groundbreaking moment in Baylor history. It was only the second time an AP top-10 matchup staged in Waco, the only previous meeting being in 1956. The matchup spoke for itself though. Saturday was set for a battle between the conference’s top two teams, a competitive rivalry brewing and a legitimate challenger in TCU to break the hearts of the national title hopeful Bears. With all that said, I don’t think there has ever been a Baylor game as important as the one that was played on Saturday.
There were fans and players in tears, students taking pictures together with the team, players hugging their parents; across generations, fans celebrated the win by singing “That Good Ol’ Baylor Line” in a way they don’t usually get to sing it, side-by-side with the team.
Needless to say, it was a very special moment for just about everyone on Baylor’s side of the contest. Getting to rush the field made it all the more special. It was a win that was truly shared across the entire student body and parents at McLane Stadium on Saturday. That’s why they rushed the field. They wanted to enjoy, celebrate and cherish it together
When analyzing the game in a vacuum, without any history or near future of the teams in the equation, I think the answer becomes even more clear. First of all, the entire game on Saturday was thrilling. For both fan bases, the game, all four hours of it, had its moments of euphoria and doubt. Emotions could not have been higher during that game. Naturally, fans are going to react in a highly emotional way.
Baylor fans didn’t rush the field because of the opponent’s AP Poll ranking. They rushed the field because they were reacting to what just happened right in front of them. They were celebrating an unbelievable comeback against a very good TCU team that had a 21-point lead late in the game.
I was at the game. I felt the energy all the way from my desk in the press box. When I saw the fans jump the railing of the student section, I wanted to be part of the fans rushing the field too. I knew that it would be a moment to cherish for a lifetime.
Those excluded from the Baylor fan experience that day didn’t feel what the entire Baylor Nation felt — a program rising right before their very eyes and massive triumph in a historic rivalry victory.