This happens every year.
One of two things happens: A traditional also-ran experiences a sudden surge of success and upsets a traditional power at home. Or a traditional power that's fallen on hard times (say, Indiana) temporarily overcomes those hard times and beats a highly ranked opponent at home. It never fails. The students rush the court, and people like me are left to break out the weary old "you crazy kids got no respect for tradition!" chestnut, because I am approximately 76 years old and can remember when court-storming MEANT SOMETHING, DARNIT.
After the final buzzer ended the Tigers' dismantling of North Carolina in Littlejohn Coliseum Wednesday night, Clemson's students rushed the court. This despite Clemson's favored status (the Tigers were a 3-point favorite), a top 20 ranking, and a relatively (relatively being the key word here) down year for the Tar Heels.
The immediate reaction to this court-storming was displeasure bordering on disgust. I felt the same way. "What is Clemson doing?" I thought. "This is not a court-stormer. Not even close." The more time I spend thinking about it, though, and the more I read Andy Katz's postgame dispatch from Littlejohn last night, the more I begin to think maybe the court-storming was warranted after all:
You can call out the court storming all you want.
But spend an evening here at Littlejohn Coliseum. Talk to the students who suffer from a bit of an inferiority complex regarding their neighbors to the north. Chat with a seasoned fan like Gary Girmindl, who was watching his 512th consecutive Clemson home game, a streak that spans 31 years.
Their Tigers, who have never beaten UNC in Chapel Hill, had lost 10 straight games to the Tar Heels overall. So beating North Carolina, regardless of the transition the Heels are going through, means something down here.
I'm not sure I'm completely sold, but it's at least forgivable. Should Clemson students get a pass here? Does traditional ineptitude override present-day anti-court-storm conditions? We report, you leave comments! (Even better, you can register your thoughts in this morning's SportsNation poll.)
In the meantime, I think we can all come together on the following two points: 1). Court-storming is out of hand, and 2). There's really nothing wrong with this. Are college students rushing the court way too often for the gesture to mean anything? Sure. Does this matter in any real way? In other words, should we worry about the "cheapening" of a gesture based primarily on college students feeling momentary euphoric joy and choosing to express that joy in a communal manner? Absolutely not.
College kids will keep finding reasons to storm courts, and I'll keep writing about why the court-storming wasn't deserved, and the cycle will go on forever and ever until I shake off this mortal coil. Which will be soon, because I am 76 years old.