What should have been a clean conference game between Ole Miss and Tennessee quickly descended into dangerous chaos on Saturday night.
As Lane Kiffin spoke with a referee following a critical fourth-down review for the Volunteers, a golf ball came flying at the Rebels head coach from the stands. It did hit him, Kiffin later confirmed to ESPN, and then came a cascade of debris that was launched by Tennessee fans at their former head coach and the Ole Miss sideline—a mustard bottle, water bottles, beer cans, pizza boxes and much more.
Tennessee's dance team and marching band had to leave the field, and Ole Miss moved onto the field out away from their sideline. The dangerous act resulted in nearly a 20 minute delay with just 54 seconds left in Ole Miss's eventual victory.
"They're just throwing stuff. I just said put your helmets on and let's play," Kiffin told SEC Network after the game. "They're passionate fans. People came to see a show and it didn't end the way they wanted it to. It is what it is."
Fans were eventually moved away from the field so the game could continue, but per ESPN, they returned and began throwing objects yet again.
"Not sure I'm more excited to win or that I didn't get hit with the golf balls they were throwing at me," Kiffin said after the game.
Saturday's match-up marked Kiffin's first game in Knoxville as the Rebels's head coach. He served as the head coach at Tennessee in 2009 before leaving after one season to take the same position at USC. Kiffin was greeted with a chorus of boos at Neyland Stadium.
When asked before the game what gives him comfort when he arrives at a stadium giving this kind of reception, Kiffin responded with "Matt Corral."
He then added, "I don't think they like me a lot."
While Corral proved to be a dual-threat quarterback against Tennessee, he did throw his first interception of the season.
As Kiffin left the field, any effort to stop fans seemed fruitless as one lobbed a water bottle while he crossed under the field goal. Law enforcement and security around him lifted their hands over the head coach while ducking from the projectile while Kiffin one-handed it.
After the game, Tennessee's chancellor Donde Plowman tweeted a statement about the matter.
"I am astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game. Good sportsmanship must be part of who we are as Volunteers. Behavior that puts student athletes, coaches, visitors, and other fans at risk is not something we will tolerate," she said. "I will be calling Chancellor Bryce in the morning to offer my apology on behalf of the University of Tennessee and discuss what we can do to make this right. Neyland Stadium has always been a place for families, and we will keep it that way."
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