AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - The frantic, on-field celebration by thousands of fans after Auburn's upset win at the 2013 Iron Bowl took a toll on Jordan-Hare Stadium's Pat Dye Field, but the turf crew isn't complaining. In fact, they're happy to make the repairs.
Pat Dye Field actually looks better today than it did two nights ago. This is the kind of mess the crew says it would gladly clean up after a wild meeting.
"We took a blower and blew off all kinds of stuff," said Turf Manager Eric Kleypas.
At mid-morning, we found turf crews raking up broken limbs from the holly bushes along what was the Crimson Tide sideline. Kleypas says there are clear signs of soil damage on the school's logo, and in other places, as well as damage to the game-play clock.
The damage was caused as fans poured onto the field by the thousands just after the Tigers won. Some tore limbs from the bushes or carved up pieces of the field as souvenirs of the rivalry's most historic game.
"We're checking out all the hedges and pruning them back to see if they'll come back," said Kleypas." It's too early to determine whether the bushes will have to be replaced. The hollies were planted by former Auburn coach Pat Dye years ago.
"Some of the fans took a souvenir and took some of the grass out so now we're defining a square and will replace it with new sod," said Kleypas.
"This was the wildest celebration I've ever been part of," said field mower Bradley Kirkland.
While some fans were taking souvenirs from the field, at least one was leaving something very personal behind. The grounds crew tweeted a picture of what it says were cremated remains poured into a small pile on the sideline.
The crew said the ashes were not as unusual as one might imagine. It's found at least two such displays in the 2013 season alone and can quickly identify the spots because of very tiny bone fragments that remain.
Kleypas estimates around 40,000 fans rushed to the field and unknowingly damaged parts of the soil. He says Auburn University will pay for the repairs.
You will get no complaints, however, from Kleypas and Kirkland. In fact, Kleypas says he had a feeling this would happen about 5 minutes left in the Iron Bowl game. He warned his team to stay clear.
"When we saw the game getting close we figured this was opening. We told our employees to be prepared and stay out of the way," Kleypas admitted.
The grounds crew has four months to get the field back into perfect shape for spring training.