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Steve Sarkisian on Texas Tech fans storming the field: ‘It’s a dangerous situation’

The Longhorns head coach credited Ovie Oghoufo for his poise and composure after he was pushed by a Red Raiders fan on the field.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In the aftermath of Saturday’s 37-34 overtime win by the Texas Tech Red Raiders over the Texas Longhorns in Lubbock, focus turned on Sunday to a viral video of a Red Raiders fan shoving Longhorns senior edge Ovie Oghoufo as students stormed the field at Jones AT&T Stadium.

During Monday’s press conference, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the situation.

“I wouldn’t call [it] the fan running into our player — I think the fan knocked our player down,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously, those are the sort of tough situations. I love the pageantry of college football. When fans rush the field, it’s dangerous for us as coaches on both sides, it’s dangerous for the players. It’s an unfortunate situation.”

One of the most significant dangers of fans making aggressive towards on larger, stronger humans in pads and armed with a helmet whose adrenaline and emotions are running high after a loss is the possibility for retaliation that could quickly deteriorate into a larger brawl. Sarkisian praised senior edge Ovie Oghoufo not for reacting to the shove.

“I give Ovie a lot of credit,” Sarkisian said. “I thought he showed great poise and composure that could have turned into an ugly situation. I thought he handled himself well.”

And that wasn’t the only incident on the field after the game — video circulated on Monday morning from Texas Tech showed sophomore nickel back Michael Taaffe making contact with a woman Red Raiders fan.

Watching it closely strongly suggested that Taaffe was pushed from behind, as his neck snapped back, seemingly later confirmed by the woman herself.

So the current state of affairs early Monday afternoon is that two Texas players were pushed by Texas Tech fans after the game and one even apologized for it when he then made contact with someone else.

Sarkisian said that he hasn’t personally reached out to the Texas Tech administration and wasn’t sure if the Texas administration had — “My goal, my focus is on our team to get better and ready to play.”

In field-storming situations, Sarkisian said the staff tries to help usher players off the field the best they can while still trying to focus on the sportsmanship of finding the opposing coach on the field for a post-game handshake.

““I’m a little bit more fortunate — I’m surrounded by police officers. Our players don’t all have police officers around them,” Sarkisian said. “Our strength staff tries to get them off field. But there is a level of sportsmanship that you go shake the man’s hand that you just competed against. And so we try to do those things.”

In the Big 12, schools are fined $25,000 each time fans rush the field. Within the last decade, the SEC significantly increased fines. Previously, fines increased from $5,000 on the first offense to $25,000 on the second offense to $50,000 on the third offense. Now, schools pay $50,000 the first time, $100,000 the second time, and $250,000 the third time in an effort to provide financial incentive to keep fans off the field following games.

Since Texas Tech fans were on the field following the double-overtime win over Houston, a similar fine structure would have cost the university $100,000 and $150,000 total for this season.

“Obviously, they’re dangerous situations when fans come on the field and I don’t blame them for rushing the field, that’s part of it when you get a victory like they got, but again, if we can find a better way for safety for everybody involved, I think that’s a good thing,” Sarkisian said. “I think that’s why some other conferences have pretty significant fines if you rush the court or if you rush the field of football to try to eliminate some of that stuff.”

On Sunday, Texas Tech released a statement to BON on the situation.

“A video clip of a fan pushing a University of Texas student-athlete was recently brought to our attention. This behavior is unacceptable and Texas Tech Athletics has turned the matter over to the Texas Tech Police Department. We will work together to identify the fan and take further action.

If anyone has information that can assist in identifying this individual, please contact Texas Tech Police Department at 806-742-3931.

Texas Tech has a postgame celebration policy which is submitted to the Big 12 before the season begins. The policy includes the placement of barriers and stationing of law enforcement and event staff to allow for the opposing team a path to their locker room. The policy is shared with the visiting team and game officials prior to each game.

Texas Tech is committed to providing a safe game environment and we will continue to evaluate our policies and procedures.”