College basketball fans have been getting sloppy over the last couple of years. The frequency of bum rushing the court seems to be increasing at an alarming rate. Just this week we saw West Virginia fans bum rush after their win against Pitt. Then last night Florida State bum rushed the court after their huge upset win against Duke. The former was completely unjustified. The latter was completely justified, but poorly executed. Florida State fans ended up costing their team a technical, not really putting the final outcome at risk but at the very least looking pretty amateur in the process (not to mention giving JJ Redick 2 free opportunities to go further in the record book...in case you haven't heard he's the all-time leading scorer in ACC history. Mike Patrick and Dickie V also certainly appreciated the opportunity to talk about JJ one more time. By the way, has Patrick become even more ga-ga about Duke then even Dickie V? I didn't think it was humanly possible.)
There used to be an unwritten yet well-understood code of etiquette on the bum rush. Fans seemed to follow this code pretty closely until the last 2-3 seasons. I consider myself an expert on the subject, having bum rushed the court with my buddy Wego back in 1993 after Illinois defeated Iowa on a last-second shot by Andy Kaufmann. This was no small feat, mind you. Sitting at the top of the 'B' section, we ended up having to scale down the wall behind the basket and jump down to the section where the band was. Wego and I made it. The rest of our crew got stopped by the ushers. Suckers! Thankfully, we were rewarded for our efforts with some sweet camera time...you can even check out the video here. (Actually, only after watching this play again can you truly appreciate how poorly Northwestern tried to run a similar play last night against Ohio State.)
'The Shot' (as it was known is Illinois circles until Deron Williams trumped Kaufmann last year) feel under one of the three justifiable reasons for bum rushing:
1. Miraculous buzzer beaters
2. Conference Titles or Conference Tourney Titles for One-Bid Conferences
3. Unbelievable Upsets over Top 10 Teams
If there's any doubt, use this as a rule of thumb. Everybody deserves the chance to have one bum rush in their college career. Any more than that, then your just watering them down. So ask yourself, 'Is there a decent chance that this will be the most significant win my team has during my 4 (in your case, 5) years here?'
What we're seeing the last couple of years is bum rushing after one ranked team beats another ranked team. Like Iowa vs. Wisconsin earlier this year. Or Indiana when they beat Illinois. Or this past week when West Virginia beat Pitt. In general, most ranked teams should win at home, regardless of who they're playing. So what fans are implicitly saying when they do this 'we don't truly believe we're that good' (in some cases, like Indiana, you might be right) and 'this win must've been some kind of fluke'. Clearly amateur hour.
Bum rushing like this is giving the term a bad name. Unfortunately, it puts the whole practice at risk. Don't be surprised if you start seeing conference or NCAA rules against the practice. The debacle last night against Duke (say it isn't so) can't help matters (it was great to see Dickie V, who loves the atmosphere of college hoops more than anybody, do a complete 180 against the frenzied Florida State fans when it was his beloved Dukies getting the squeeze).
You can't stop the bum rush. It's simply part of college basketball. But the code of etiquette needs to be put back in place. Rush responsibly! Otherwise this time-honored tradition may be gone forever. Think about the kids, man! Think about the kids!