The north end zone goalpost at Neyland Stadium cracked near the base and toppled down Saturday as Tennessee football fans swung from it.
The crossbar and uprights were carried across the field and into the stands by a giddy gaggle of Vols fans after UT topped Alabama 52-49. They reached the concourse level before police stopped the procession and guarded the remnant of the goalpost in the southeast stands.
A backup set of backup goalposts waited below.
Tennessee has stored a disassembled backup set of goalposts under the student section in the southeast corner of Neyland Stadium since it was ordered in 1998, the last time fans tore down the goalposts and the last time UT started a season 6-0.
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No. 4 Tennessee (6-0, 3-0 SEC) will install the replacement goalposts Tuesday prior to its homecoming game against UT Martin (4-2) on Saturday (noon ET, SEC Network). Fans tore down both Neyland Stadium goalposts after UT snapped its 15-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide with a game-winning 40-yard field goal from Chase McGrath.
Tennessee plans to order a new set of reserve goal posts. UT estimated a pair of goalposts costs between $10,000 and $20,000 before installation. UT also has additional repairs to make at Neyland Stadium after the celebration, including damage to the field.
“If need be, I will pay for them to make sure that they’re up on Saturday,” coach Josh Heupel quipped Monday on SEC This Morning. “But I think they’ve got a plan to have a couple of them ready to roll when we get to Saturday.”
Standing since 1998
UT started an online fundraiser Sunday, which it indicated was to generate funds for new goalposts. It raised more than $90,000 in less than 24 hours.
Tennessee was fined $100,000 for fans storming the field. The fine was levied as a second offense under the SEC’s access to competition area policy. Tennessee’s first offense was when fans stormed the court in a 2006 basketball game against Florida.
“It doesn’t matter. We’ll do this every year,” UT President Randy Boyd said in a Twitter video when asked how much the fallout of the celebration would cost as UT fans carried the south end zone goalpost across the field.
The goalposts that stood until Saturday had been in place since 1998, when the Vols went 13-0 and won the national title. They were installed after previous set was torn down following UT beating Florida 20-17 in overtime on Sept. 19, 1998. Those goalposts ended up in the Tennessee River. So did the uprights from the south goalpost Saturday, one remaining in it and the other fished out and taken to a fraternity house to be sawed into pieces.
The south end zone field-goal posts were completely removed, only the hole in the ground remaining. The base of the north end zone goalpost was the lone portion of the original uprights remaining in place after Neyland Stadium emptied hours after the victory.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.