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Loss of home game for field storming? If only the SEC had the guts for it

Do it.

I dare you, Southeastern Conference presidents and chancellors. I challenge you.

Vote for the loss of a home game as the stringent new penalty for field storming. It's a bolder step for some of you than others, I get it. Some schools are more likely to rush a home field after an upset win and, let's be honest, the fan bases to worry about are the ones who are usually home underdogs. Unless of course, we're talking about a home upset of Alabama. Then, apparently, field-storming is a given even for schools with a winning pedigree.

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In case you missed it, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey acknowledged Tuesday that a working group he appointed to explore ways to stop field stormings, which includes Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, has given consideration to a penalty whereby the offending school's next home game against the visiting school would be switched to a road game. In an annual home-and-home rivalry, for instance, that would mean three consecutive road games for the school that couldn't control its fans.

It's the right move.

It's what the working group should propose, it's what league athletic directors should advance, and it's what SEC presidents and chancellors should enact.

Other considerations Sankey mentioned include stiffer fines (currently tiered at $50,000, $100,000 and $250,000), or the forfeiture of the game stormed. There could be more considerations, but of these three, penalizing home-field advantage is by far the best option. Stiffer fines will do nothing, and there's no way a majority of schools would sign on for a forfeit rule. It might be tough to get a lot of them on board for a loss-of-home-game rule, too, because we're talking about millions in lost revenue for both schools and towns if a field-storming results in one less home game.

Tennessee fan Nick Lebert takes a selfie as he crowd surfs on a torn-down goalpost after the Vols' win over Alabama in October.
Tennessee fan Nick Lebert takes a selfie as he crowd surfs on a torn-down goalpost after the Vols' win over Alabama in October.

And that's why it'll take some guts to make this happen.

Guts that need to be found.

Violence between visiting players and fans is a real danger when fields and courts get stormed, and the league owes to its athletes safe passage from bench to locker room. Sankey has said the league is looking at ways to ensure that as well, which is a different discussion from deterring what he called fan "incursions."

Will there be enough gumption around the league to embrace this somewhat radical notion?

I hope so.

Five days before Sankey confirmed his working group was considering it, a reader emailed me that very same idea.

"If fans storm the field, how about just losing the next home game against that team," came the suggestion from, of all places, Tennessee. I loved the idea, but the realist in me questioned whether it stood a chance.

"That would absolutely be an effective deterrent," I wrote back. "Just not sure it could get votes because of the revenue implications."

A fan cheers after climbing a downed goal past following Tennessee football's win against Alabama in October.
A fan cheers after climbing a downed goal past following Tennessee football's win against Alabama in October.

In other words, an administrator who voted for this measure, only to watch his school be the first to swallow the penalty, might have a lot to answer for. And that's why support for it isn't the same discussion at Alabama as it might be at Texas A&M or South Carolina.

Yet, it makes sense for the league as a whole.

As a price to pay, it hits the fans as much as it hits the schools, which is the only way to create a real deterrent. As jubilant as they might be after a huge victory, fans won't want to be the reason their team has to play three straight road games against the team they've just beaten.

Fines that matter none to fans and little to schools were never going to be enough.

But this, this, is a real solution.

Reach Chase Goodbread at cgoodbread@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.

Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.
Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Loss of home game for field storming? If only the SEC had the guts