I think Kirk Herbstreit speaks for almost everyone regarding tonight’s BYU-Washington game:
…one of the most frustrating things I’ve seen in a long time… to have that taken away by an official – a Pac 10 official, because as he got tackled he put the ball up in the air… he wasn’t taunting anybody, he wasn’t trying to bring a bunch of attention to himself, he was celebrating for a brief moment. Pathetic, pathetic call by that official.
I also think he’s wrong.
First of all, the mere mention of the crew’s conference affiliation takes all the air out of Herbstreit’s argument – implying a home-conference ref should give the home team wiggle room is to suggest that there was something that they had to wiggle out of.
Which there was. The NCAA celebration rule is and always has been monumentally ridiculous. And the fact that it’s apparently a point of emphasis this year is all the more baffling. But according to the rules, the call was made correctly. Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, the game announcers and most fans have probably never read the actual rule book. Not so the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta:
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s one that they almost have to call,” said Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham. “It really should be a no-call, but it’s one that they have to call when they see it. … The game is an emotional game. We cannot play it without emotion, and therefore we are going to celebrate. The key is to manufacture the right celebration that does not belittle the game or the sportsmanship that should be part of the game.”
Willingham didn’t think what Locker did was belittling or unsportsmanlike. But he couldn’t argue that it didn’t violate Rule 9, Section 2, Article 2, Part C of the NCAA rule book, which states that “throwing the ball high into the air” is an unsportsmanlike act subject to penalty.
Said Farina: “After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It is not a judgment call.”
Locker said UW players had been told that the rule would be a point of emphasis this season.
“I was kind of disappointed in myself for doing that,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like that in the past. I wasn’t trying to show anybody up by doing it. That’s not what I’m about.”
A UW official said no protest was planned, pointing out that the rule is in the book and was simply enforced.
I’m also certain that the Game Day crew could look back over the years and find many other games where a similarly non-dramatic toss or spike drew the same flag. Difference is, it probaby didn’t happen in the final seconds, and more importantly, the offending team still made its extra point. This one would have been a little harder to take, IMO, if Washington had simply missed the kick. But BYU still had to make a play. And if we’re willing to speculate that UDub would have won the game in overtime, we can also speculate that BYU still would have blocked the kick at normal distance.
–The Oregonian on the Beavers trip to Beaver Stadium:
Some of those watching probably were thinking, “Hey, these guys aren’t much better than Coastal Carolina!”
Not me. I was thinking, “Geez, I hope the Beavers are the class of the Pac 10!”
More deluded Penn State fans than I are already dusting off comparisons to 1994, which is premature to say the least.
– My sure-to-be weekly Big Ten Network rant: Really, Murray-State-Indiana? Instead of Duke-Northwestern, a historically close series between traditional high-academic football doormats? The Wildcats have been much better for the last 12 years, but lost to Duke last year, and sure enough, it was a close and entertaining game. Truth is, I suspect the BTN could not carry the game, since Duke controlled the broadcast rights. But ah… the modern, forward-thinking ACC happily charged me $5.95 to watch online.