The student section seemed to hold its breath after the final
second of the Michigan-Ohio State game ticked off the clock.

Kate Green
TONY DING/Daily
Michigan fans climb over the brick wall of Michigan Stadium to rush onto the football field seconds after Michigan defeated Ohio State on Saturday.

It took a full 20 seconds before students began their pilgrimage
to the field. The stadium bled blue; streams of students in
Blue-Out shirts and navy sweatshirts made their way down the
bleachers, into the aisles and through the open gates at the bottom
of the stands.

Within minutes, the first students had jumped from the wall to
the playing surface eight feet below and were rushing toward the
celebrating players on the field. Thousands flooded the field, yet
nobody was injured and no arrests were made during the rush.

Recent Michigan alum Andy Vilardo summed up many students’
emotions as he stood on the field, surveying the exhilarated
crowd.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I started school here.
This has been my goal for every game,” he said. “This
is why I came to school here.”

Engineering junior Maulik Parikh said he had been looking
forward to a Michigan Big Ten championship. “I rushed because
we’re going to the Rose Bowl,” he said, adding that he
hoped to have a reason to rush again next year.

Michigan fan Mike Raney, wearing the obligatory maize and blue,
stood in the safety of the alumni section as he watched the
students flood the field. He said he preferred to stay in the
stands instead of rushing.

“We’re too old for that stuff,” he said.

Students who reached the field gave high fives to players, posed
for the TV cameras and hugged each other on the Michigan
“M” at midfield.

After about 15 minutes, the stadium announcer requested that
students leave the field so the post-game band show could
start.

The student celebration was not lost on the football players.
Tight end Andy Mignery, a fifth-year senior, said seeing Michigan
students rush the field was powerful.“How much pride was with
those students? Just that look in their eyes, to see how much
emotion was going through their bodies, (they were) going crazy. It
meant a lot as a player.”

Ohio State students compared the rush to their own experience
last year.

Ohio State junior Carrie White said she rushed the field after
last year’s win in Columbus. She said police sprayed tear gas
in her eyes and threatened rushing students with jail time.

The 1997 field rush at Michigan resulted in experiences similar
to White’s at Ohio State.

Michigan students alleged that police used pepper spray and
subdued rushing students with excessive force.

In contrast, University officials expressed relief that
Saturday’s Michigan rush went smoothly. Department of Public
Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said once police officers realized
that students weren’t going after the goal posts, officers
backed off and secured the goal posts and tunnel entrance.

Brown said that only 11 of the 110 total crimes reported at the
game involved Michigan students, a few were Ohio State students and
the rest were mostly students from smaller schools nearby.

There were no arrests and no incidents while students rushed the
field, Brown said. “We were very pleased with the cooperation
that the fans exhibited after they rushed the field,” she
said.

“They behaved themselves so we were able to deal with them
as respectfully as they dealt with the police officers.”

Students leaving the stadium described the field rushing as very
civilized. Brown pointed out that students helped each other over
the walls and that the biggest safety hazard was some pushing as
people tried to get on and off the field.

Students like LSA junior Noelle Carampatan reveled in the
experience of the game and of standing on the field.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she said.

— Daily Sports Editor J. Brady McCollough contributed
to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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