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On Thursday, the NCAA passed three new rules. New entries in the rule book include the banning of wedge blocking on kickoffs, messages on eye black and tougher rules on taunting.
The first two are perfectly reasonable, but it's the third rule that could cause major problems – especially in the SEC.
The new rule, which will go into effect for the 2011 season, will change the unsportsmanlike taunting penalty to a live-ball penalty, which will result in a 15-yard penalty assessed from the spot of the foul. That means a player high-stepping to the end zone would have a penalty assessed from the point where the high-stepping started, and the points would be disallowed.
Right theory, wrong execution.
In a society that is too much "me" and not enough "we," the NCAA is attempting to promote sportsmanship among its players and emphasize teamwork. While the potential new rule has the right foundation, it lacks the proper reasoning to warrant points coming off the scoreboard.
Nearly every other penalty in the NCAA rulebook is called because a player did something to create an unfair advantage for himself or his team. If a wide receiver pushes off and makes a spectacular touchdown catch, one can argue that he made the catch because he created an unfair advantage for himself. If a running back takes one to the house from 80 yards out, but the left tackle held on the play, the running back gained an unfair advantage. Those points should come off the scoreboard.
With unsportsmanlike penalties, however, that's not the case. A wide receiver isn't scoring because he's taunting, he's taunting because he's scoring. That doesn't make it right to taunt. Players should be penalized for self-aggrandizing behavior. But calling live-ball fouls on infractions that have no direct impact on the actual play is way too harsh of a penalty.
And think about this from an SEC perspective. SEC referees aren't exactly looked at as the most objective people on the planet.
Georgia got assessed a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff because A.J. Green looked at a fan after scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes vs. LSU. A couple of plays later, Charles Scott scampered 33 yards for the winning touchdown, blinked his eyes a little funny, and got an flag thrown on him. Those taunting calls had a major impact on the outcome of the game, and they were dead ball fouls. SEC officials have proven that they can't call the taunting rule properly, and now, in some instances, points could be taken off the board.
Besides, what ever happened to self-policing? You know what happens when a wide receiver high-steps to the end zone? He better buckle up his chin strap because the next time he goes over the middle, he's getting the snot knocked out of him.
The new rule puts WAY too much power in the hands of referees, who, especially in the SEC, have proven that they don't deserve that power. Taunting is stupid, selfish and immature; but it does not warrant points coming off the scoreboard.
If the NCAA wants to make a step to promote sportsmanship, great. Taunting and self-promotion have no business on the football field. There's plenty they could do to ratchet up the punishment. They could make the taunting penalty 15 yards on the extra point AND the kickoff. Or, they could force the offending team to "go for two," but only make it worth one point. But taking points off the scoreboard on penalties that have nothing to do with the game itself is too big of a step.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
Off-Season Column Archive:
Taunting Rule Goes Too Far – April 16, 2009
Memorable SEC Press Conferences – February 20, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 2 – February 18, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 1 – February 16, 2009
Florida Reaches For DC – February 12, 2009
Vols Go West For New DC – February 3, 2009
Early 2010 SEC Predictions – January 31, 2010
Chizik Doing It Right – January 21, 2010
Georgia's DC Debacle – January 12, 2010
SEC Bloggers: Do Over – January 8, 2010
Trouble In Baton Rouge – January 2, 2010
Meyer Calls A Reverse – December 27, 2009
Urban Meyer's SEC Legacy – December 26, 2009
End Of The Season Accountability – December 26, 2009
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 18, 2009
2009 SEC Superlatives – December 13, 2009
Click here for the 2010 Three & Out archive