State of the Game - What Is A Celebration?
Washington QB Jake Locker
Washington QB Jake Locker
Posted Aug 17, 2010

Preview 2010 - The State of the Game. What is excessive celebration and what should the penalty be?

Preview 2010 - State of the Game

What Is Excessive Celebration?

State of the Game Topics
- Is Realignment A Plus?
- The SEC & The BCS
- What If Boise Goes 12-0?
- Are You Okay With the BCS Championship Result?
- Does The AP Title Matter?
- A $300 Bowl Gift vs. a $300 Handshake
- Did Reggie Bush Do Anything Wrong?
- How Should Offending Programs Be Punished?
- If You Could Make One Radical Change ...
- If You Could Make One Slight Change ...
- What Is Excessive Celebration?
- What's Your Favorite Non-Heisman Award

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Once again, we're extremely proud to get the thoughts from some of the top voices in the college football world in our annual State of the Game piece. Along with three CFN writers, check out the opinions on the key topics going into the 2010 season from legendary play-by-play man, Verne Lundquist, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, Ivan Maisel, Joe Schad, and Bruce Feldman, Dennis Dodd of, and the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein.

12. What is excessive celebration and what should the penalty be?

Pete Fiutak, CFN : Excessive Celebration should be defined as a premeditated act of celebration or anything that obviously taunts an opponent. As it stands now, the rule is way too loosely interpreted with last year's LSU-Georgia game marred by the stuffy officials and most famously screwed up in 2008 when Washington's Jake Locker was punished after scoring a key late touchdown in a loss to BYU (the extra point attempt, tried from a longer distance, was blocked). As if getting scored on isn't enough, the world would certainly be a worse place if some defensive player had his feelings hurt by seeing a runner slam a ball to the ground. No, a receiver shouldn't pull a Sharpie out of his sock after a score, but spontaneous outbursts of joy shouldn't be muzzled.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN : The operative word here is premeditated. If it's obvious that a player has planned some Michael Flatley-like celebration, he ought to get flagged for a 15-yard penalty every day of the week and twice on Sundays. It's obnoxious and the college game doesn't need it. A spontaneous reaction to a huge play, however, should be left alone. I mean, we can't expect or even want these athletes to be robotic either. It's totally subjective and open to interpretation, but you can generally figure out when a kid is truly caught up in the emotion of the game and when he's acting like a moron.

Matt Zemek, CFN: Excessive celebration should be re-defined as taunting, as sticking it in the face of an opponent. Anything which is purely joyful and based on delighting in one's own team-oriented accomplishments should never be penalized. Moreover, taunting should be penalized after a touchdown is scored or after a big gain is registered. In other words, if a player taunts at the 20 en route to the end zone, the flag should be on the try or the kickoff, not a 15-yard mark-off from the 20 to the 35.

Dennis Dodd, I've come to the opinion that excessive celebration should not be called. Beginning in 2011, points can be taken off the board on a live-ball excessive celebration call. That's ridiculous. There is an unholy obsession about sportsmanship. When it starts costing teams games, that's where I draw the line. The current rules put too much pressure on the officials, inserting their opinion and subjectivity into a football game. I can tell you what pass interference is, but I sure as hell can't tell you when celebration becomes excessive. Both are interpretations. One has nothing to do with play on the field. As long as players don't take off their helmets and/or taunt the opposition (directly) everything else is cool with me.

Bruce Feldman, It should be up to the coaching staffs to deal with this, not for the refs to try and determine what is "celebration" and taunting.. The example of the Golden Tate "violation" vs. Michigan in 2009 that the refs say now would've caused that TD to be overturned is ridiculous.

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: It's like porn, you know it when you see it. A 15-yard hit and face-mask grab from the head coach seem to be good penalties.

Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN : Excessive celebration is the most inconsistent penalty called in cfb. I for one love the passion and excitement of cfb. And while I understand the effort to control some of the individuality, I would love to see the rules allow the players to turn it loose and play with emotion. Now, if they talk too much trash to an opponent or take a bow after a sack or TD or do anything else for that matter that appears to be unsportsmanlike then they should be flagged. And if they go too far it should be a 15 yard penalty.

Verne Lundquist, CBS : One of the most famous phrases ever written by a Supreme Court justice was authored in 1964 by Justice Potter Stewart. He was writing about hard core pornography and he said, "It's hard to define, but I know it when I see it". Alright, it's a stretch, but I feel the same way about excessive celebration. I know what it's not. It's not A.J. Green reacting with joy to a touchdown catch in the Georgia end zone. Yet, I also realize that the interpretation of what constitutes 'excessive' can be difficult. I think I'm most bothered by the narcissism on display, the celebration of 'me' in a team game. I believe it needs to be controlled. So let the debate continue. Let's penalize it with a fifteen yard dead ball foul.

Ivan Maisel, Sportsmanship may be an antiquated notion. I appreciate the respect it teaches, and that's what the coaches are after. At the heart of all the histrionics at this young age is a lack of respect. I think once they get to the NFL, leeway is fine. Everyone's a grownup, theoretically. If they eliminated the current restrictions from college football, or reduced the penalty to a delay of game, I wouldn't be upset, but I appreciate the reason for the rule.