5 Thoughts - The Bad Call

Posted Sep 8, 2008

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

Five Thoughts: 2007 Thoughts | Week 1

And It Rains A Lot In Seattle

By Pete Fiutak   

1. 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 Call ...

By Pete Fiutak   

2. 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 session?

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

By Richard Cirminiello

If 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

By Matthew Zemek

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

By Steve Silverman   

. 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.