- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The rah-rah partygoers who fill college football's enormous stadiums are in for big changes.
Coolers and picnic baskets, even coats and blankets, will be searched or banned altogether, turning quick trips through turnstiles into long waits at security checkpoints for crowds as large as the more than 100,000 expected at Michigan.
"We're trying to make people understand that things are going to be a little different," Mississippi State associate athletic director Duncan McKenzie said.
Fans attending the Bulldogs' game when major college football resumes tomorrow will be the first to notice the difference. Everyone else will find out later in the week.
Items such as video cameras, cans or glass bottles, coolers, umbrellas, noisemakers and purses will hold fans up at some games.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., planes won't be allowed to fly over the Wolverines' stadium Saturday.
There will be differences on the field, too, including teams wearing U.S. flags on helmets.
All of last week's Division I-A football games were postponed or canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Major League Baseball resumed Monday night and the NFL returns Sunday, both under much tighter security.
"You watched the emotion that major league baseball brought back to the country a little bit," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, whose Buckeyes play UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. "We have the good fortune at Ohio State to bring some more emotion and to serve as an energy source for our country.
"What venue would you rather have it be in than before 90,000 or 100,000 and on national TV? I think it's going to be an exciting thing and a way we can do some good by the way we play."
Football stadiums dwarf arenas used in the NHL (where the biggest in the United States is Chicago's 20,500-seat United Center) and the NBA (the Spurs play before up to a league-high 34,215 at the Alamodome).
Unlike in the NFL, there won't be a standard set of security measures at college games.
"With 976 different institutions," NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro said, "it is difficult to make policies that are applicable to the broad membership."
At Michigan Stadium with a capacity of 107,501, the largest site of a game Saturday the Wolverines will have U.S. flags stitched on their uniforms when they face Western Michigan. American flags will replace Big Ten banners along the stadium's rim.
"Our fans should expect some possible delays, especially if they continue to come in at the last minute," said Bill Bess, Michigan's director of public safety. "We would like fans to get in the stadium sooner than they have in the past."
The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday granted Michigan's request to bar flights within a 1-mile radius of the stadium and up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. That also covers blimps.
Other schools, including Penn State and Wisconsin, asked the FAA to keep airplanes from flying near stadiums during games.
At Notre Dame, which averaged more than 80,000 fans last year, the university is consulting with the FBI and an expert in emergency planning. The school has canceled its Friday stadium tours on football weekends.
"Our goal is to continue to make the game-day experience fan-friendly," Nebraska athletic director Bill Byrne said, "but we must all begin to operate under a higher level of security awareness."
Ohio State running back Jonathan Wells said players must trust that administrators and officials have weighed all possibilities.
"Once we get out there and get together as a team, we'll be fine. I don't think you can be worried about any problems that can happen at the stadium," Wells said. "You have to go out there and be focused on the task at hand and that's beating UCLA."
At an empty Husky Stadium, where No. 13 Washington plays Idaho on Saturday and the NFL's Seahawks play the Eagles on Sunday, drummers in the school's marching band banged their instruments as if calling for a return to normalcy.
"I expect to see tightened security," sophomore drummer John Bailey said, "but I'm not afraid to go back into the stadium."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide