Hanging in the air like a pepper spray mist, reaction swirled among students and Big Ten university officials about police tactics used to subdue raucous celebrants after Penn State's win against Ohio State Saturday night.
Periodically throughout the night, police fired pepper spray into the crowd, causing herds of reveling students to flee the intersection at Beaver Avenue and Locust Lane.
Carly Mallenbaum (sophomore-broadcast journalism) said she avoided one round of spraying before getting blindsided, sending her clutching her eyes as she
ran down Locust Lane. She said the use of pepper spray was excessive.
"I was treated unfairly because I wasn't doing anything destructive, I was just cheering," Mallenbaum said.
State College Police Department Lt. John Wilson referred comment about the handling of the incident to Chief Tom King, who could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday regarding police use of pepper spray.
Richard Morman, deputy chief of the Ohio State University Police, said "pepper spray is one tactic, it's one tool in the toolbox."
At Ohio State, when big games are on the horizon, it's all about being "more preventive and not reactive," he said, adding there has not been any type of large-scale rioting after a big game since 2002.
Brad Takei (sophomore-finance) said he got sprayed in the face while standing on the sidewalk.
"Most people who got sprayed weren't doing anything. They were just standing there," he said.
Indiana State Police used tear gas to disperse a large rove of Indiana University basketball fans after the team advanced to the 2002 Final Four, Sgt. Don Schmuhl, of the Indiana University Police, said.
Schmuhl said police use pepper spray in a variety of instances. He added in preparation for big games, certain roads may be barricaded. Saturday night, State College and Penn State Police, joined by officers from other local townships, blocked sections of Beaver Avenue.
After the crowd dispersed, TJ Barnhart, an employee at Grillers Cafe, 252 E. Beaver Ave., said he watched police tackle and handcuff a man who ran past them in an attempt to get to Canyon Pizza, 260 E. College Ave.
"He just took off running to Canyon, and they got four cops on him," he said.
University of Minnesota Police Sgt. Dave Wilske said it was hard to comment on the disruption in State College, but said it sounds "fairly tame" in comparison to past incidents in Minneapolis.
Wilske said police were not ready in 2002 after the Gophers won the national title in hockey, leading to widespread property damage, flipped cars and fires in the streets.
At the University of Michigan, disruptive celebrations are uncommon, said Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the university's Department of Public Safety.
If it does get out of control, police can come in with pepper spray or tear gas, she said, adding the last time the school saw large disruptive behavior was after a 1997 football game against Ohio State that capped an undefeated season.
Takei said local police should have, at the least, been more selective in their use of the pepper spray Saturday night.
"The cops needed to be there, but they didn't need to use the mace," he said.