Tuesday, January 4

A Salute to the NCAA

In regards to the Pinstripe Bowl that was held in NYC on Dec 30, my beloved K-State Wildcats looked to seize their first bowl victory in 6 years, but 11 players and 1 referee had other ideas. In my 12 part series entitled: "The 'N' in NCAA stands for Inconsistent", we take a look at "Operation Pinstripe Bowl:2010"

(This is a re-post straight from ESPN's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" (TMQ) but was too good not to re-post)

Only the NCAA Could Think One Person Is "Themselves". In the Kansas State-Syracuse bowl game, Adrian Hilburn scored a touchdown with a minute remaining to pull Kansas State to within two points. Hilburn briefly saluted the Kansas State cheering section behind that end zone where he scored; zebras called that unsportsmanlike conduct, marching the Wildcats' 2-point try back to the 18. Syracuse stopped the deuce and won. Thus the penalty essentially handed the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl to Syracuse. The game was being played in New York City, see? Syracuse is a New York team, see? The mob put the fix in to make sure the New York team won, see? The whole game was fixed by the mob, see?

There you go, tabloids -- "ESPN says game was 'fixed by the mob.'" Obviously I don't mean this. The trouble is, it's a better explanation than that NCAA officials think a three-second salute by a guy who just scored a touchdown is a reason to throw a flag that in effect awards the game to the other team.

TMQ hates the celebration penalty. As long as there is no taunting, and there was none by Kansas State, why shouldn't players dance happily after a touchdown? Nearly all football fans, players and coaches hate the celebration penalty -- why does it exist? The current NCAA stance seems to be that football players not graduating is a minor matter, athletes who break rules will be overlooked whenever bowl revenue is involved, but don't you dare act happy! Especially bizarre is the NCAA notion that celebration fouls should be a "point of emphasis." Punishing players for jumping around happily is a point of emphasis, while helmet-to-helmet hits are rarely flagged? Even considering the NCAA's reputation for hypocrisy, this is a bit much. The celebration rule (at the high school and NFL levels, too) needs a serious revamping.

The officiating crew from the Pinstripe Bowl (via HBO).

After the game, referee Todd Geerlings said the penalty was justified because officials judged Hilburn "to be drawing attention to themselves, and that's what the flag was for." Set aside that your kindergarten teacher would flunk that sentence. Here's the NCAA rule: Unsportsmanlike celebration is "Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player attempts to focus attention on himself (or themselves)." What Hilburn did was not delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed -- although he did draw attention to himself. The rule doesn't forbid drawing attention to yourself. It forbids "any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act." Hilburn did not violate the wording of the rule. Even an NCAA official who doesn't know the difference between "himself" and "themselves" should understand the wording of rules.

Along comes the next bowl, North Carolina at Tennessee. On one Volunteers touchdown, the receiver did a choreographed dance as a teammate leapfrogged him; on another, the receiver danced elaborately, then a teammate lifted him into the air. No flag in either case. Rules are supposed to be consistent. The NCAA celebration rule seems enforced entirely according to the whim of whoever is working the game.

Reader Chris Gillard of Atlanta adds that "drawing attention" happens constantly in football and is almost never flagged: "If celebration is bad, shouldn't there be an excessive celebration penalty for the defensive player who gets a sack and then runs 10 yards jumping around, thumping his chest and gesturing to the fans?" I watched the South Carolina-Florida State second half with this in mind, and counted 14 instances of a player who had just made a sack or big tackle or had a big gain dancing wildly on the field, flexing his biceps, chest-bumping with a teammate or doing a bit or choreography. No flags. How come celebrating a touchdown is a grievous offense but celebrating a tackle is unregulated? Fix this embarrassing rule.

1 comment:

edebusk photo + design said...

Not only are you a talented designer, but I really enjoy reading your posts. (Just saying..)

In one instance I saw a Tennessee player make a gesture resembling the slitting of a throat upon a TD or some other awesome-ish play. That didn't get a flag either.

ESPN later said, "I call that over officiating!"

So true.