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5 Thoughts - The Bad Call
It was a fun week of games, but all anyone wants to talk about is the flag on Washington QB Jake Locker for excessive celebration, which led to a BYU block of the extra point and a Cougar win. This week's 5 Thoughts looks at the aftermath of the call, East Carolina's ascension, and Ohio State's performance.
5 Thoughts ... Sept. 8
A Lot In Seattle
Don't whiz on my head and tell me it's raining.
Just say you blew it.
Officials, we know you make mistakes all the time and we
accept that as part of the sport, but if you’re going to
have any semblance of credibility and believability, you
have to admit that wrong is wrong.
Larry Farina, the vilified official who threw the flag
for unsportsmanlike conduct on Jake Locker for
spontaneously winging the ball in the air after scoring
a thrilling last-second touchdown to pull within one of
BYU, was wrong, and to argue the other way is moronic.
There was no excuse for that call in that situation, and
that includes using the rule book as a crutch. The
public doesn't care about the silly rule, and the
players and coaches certainly don't care that the rule
is in place. Yes, it was a judgment call, and making
matters worse was Dave Parry, the National Coordinator
of College Football Officiating, who, shock of shocks,
stuck by his own and defended Farina.
Just say you blew it.
Yeah, if you go by the absolute strict definition of
Part C of Rule 9-2-1-2, stating that throwing the ball
in the air in celebration is a penalty, what Locker did
could technically get flagged. But if officials are
really going with the “letter of the law” defense, then
why isn’t there a holding call on every play? Pass
interference could be called on 75% of pass plays. By
the rule book, there’s something that could be flagged
almost every time the ball is snapped, and why doesn’t
it happen? Judgment. Officials are supposed to be able
to judge what’s really holding and what players should
be able to get away with. Yes, there's room for an
official to use common sense, and that includes what
Farina should've used after the Locker throw, and for
Parry to stand behind the rule book in this situation
makes all officials look bad.
Just say you blew it.
I’m a believer that an official should make the same
calls in the final minute that they do in the first
quarter … if it affects the play. Yes, the same pass
interference call on the final throw into the end zone
for a possible win should get a flag just like it would
if the score was 66-3. However, throwing the ball in the
air on a celebration call doesn’t affect the play. It
has nothing to do with the game. It’s paperwork. It’s
procedural. BYU wasn’t being shown up, and it wasn't
being put at any disadvantage. Arizona State CB Terrell
Carr threw the ball in the air Locker-style after making
a pick late in the blowout win over Stanford, and that
came several seconds after the play was over. There
wasn't any flag. There were at least three other moments
that I saw after the Locker penalty on Saturday where a
player chucked the ball after a really big play. Are the
officials in those games going to be reprimanded for not
throwing a flag? If not, why not?
So, Dave, here's the deal. Either you review the tapes
of all the games on Saturday and you
fine/suspend/reprimand all the officials that didn't
follow the rule book to the absolute letter when it
comes to the celebration rule, or you man up and admit
that one of your officials made a bad call.
Just say your guy blew it, and all will be forgiven.
Keep defending the horse(bleep) call, and officials
everywhere will look bad.
But Yeah, It Really, Really Was A Bad
Again, bad call, horrible call, shouldn’t have been made
call … and there’s no question about it by any
reasonable standards. However, and this seems to get
lost in all the weeping and gnashing of teeth,
Washington didn’t lose because of the penalty, it lost
because it couldn't overcome the adversity and failed to
execute. BYU blocked the 35-yard extra point attempt and
sealed the win.
It’s the same argument I made when Oklahoma lost to
Oregon in the controversial replay game of 2006 (and
still get hate mail for). Oklahoma got completely and
totally hosed, but it still had a shot to come up with
the win by making a defensive stop, and then when that
didn't happen, but blocking on the game-winning field
goal attempt (which was blocked by the Ducks). Coaches
preach all the time to control what you can control, and
Oklahoma didn't do that in that game, and neither did
Washington against BYU.
Yes, it was a bad call on Locker, but if Washington had
properly blocked BYU and the extra point was good, no
one would've cared about the flag on Locker. It would've
been a quirky side note.
Good teams overcome everything to get the win. Yeah,
Washington got a bad break, but it should’ve hit the
extra point to force overtime. And that’s another
factor; who’s to say BYU wouldn’t have won in the extra
So yes, be mad at the NCAA for its silly rule and for
making us all talk about this today instead of a
surprisingly fun week of games. Blame Farina for making
the call. But don’t say the Huskies lost because of it.
In Praise Of The Pirates
there’s any space left on the Boneyard bandwagon, I’d like admission
because East Carolina is for real. Beating Virginia Tech was a
terrific footnote in school history. Snuffing out No. 8 West
Virginia, however, is the type of win that could catapult the
program into the stratosphere of college football. Move over, BYU.
ECU is the team to beat among this year’s wannabe BCS busters. What
makes the Pirates so intriguing is their total lack of star power.
There’s no Alex Smith. No Ian Johnson. No Colt Brennan. In lieu of
Heisman contenders and All-Americans, they’ve got Skip Holtz at the
controls, terrific play along both lines, and a no-name defense that
just doesn’t miss tackles in the open field. Oh, and they also have
a quarterback named Patrick Pinkney, who makes great decisions and
has been razor sharp in the two upsets. Don’t know him? Don’t feel
stupid. Few outside Conference USA did before the season began. Yet,
he’s doing a spot-on impression of Brad Banks, the anonymous senior
quarterback from Iowa, who came out of nowhere to darn near win the
Heisman in 2002. Can East Carolina run the table, which would
include two more wins over ACC teams and a league title game? It
won’t be easy, as each game brings more pressure and media scrutiny.
For now, the Pirates can revel in their new-found celebrity as
the story of the early going. Enjoy it now, ECU, because most of
the country will jump ship if you don’t stay perfect.
At Least They're Not Playing An SEC Team
4. Very simply, ladies and gentlemen, if you think that Ohio
State is in trouble against USC because of the way the Buckeyes played
against Ohio, you know nothing about college football and have failed to
pay attention to this sport during your lifetime.
Nothing more need be said.
Yeah, But They'll Still Show Up
How in the name of all that is holy will the Buckeyes find a way to
stay in the game next week against USC. If we only looked at this
situation through the most basic set of numbers it would be scary
enough. USC, which enjoyed a week of rest, absolutely destroyed
Virginia on the road in its season opener. The final score was
somewhere in the vicinity of half a hundred to a field goal and as
they say in the business it could have been worse. Meanwhile, the
Buckeyes were trailing into the fourth quarter against MACified
Bobcats before escaping in the final quarter. Next week the Buckeye
go to the ancient L.A. Coliseum to take on a team they haven’t
beaten since 1974. Pete Johnson was playing for the Buckeyes in
those days and Woody Hayes was stalking the sidelines. Fear for the
Buckeyes in this one. Even if Beanie Wells can get his foot to
cooperate and he can play in this one, he can’t possibly be at
top-speed or full strength. USC coach Pete Carroll lives for this
kind of reputation-cementing games and it could get ugly and
embarrassing. Jim Tressel needs to come up with an answer that he
believes and can sell to his team or the Buckeyes may have a
real-life nightmare on their hands.