After quarterback, Jake Locker, of the University of Washington scored a touchdown in the final seconds of UW's game with BYU, he tossed the ball into the air. The officials threw a flag and penalized him 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. This, in turn, moved the ball back 15 yards for the ensuing extra point attempt, which was (of course) blocked. UW lost the game 28-27. Now, there are a number of issues that come into play here. The new NCAA ruling is such that any display of emotion (like tossing the ball in the air) is "against the law" and laid out to discourage end zone celebrations...even if Locker, for instance, was not taunting anyone in any way. In fact, when Locker saw the flag, he was ready to get after the person who committed the personal foul, but then, incredulously, was forced to come to the realization that he was the unwitting, guilty party. This is more archaic than the NFL (no fun league :-) that has rightfully cracked down on certain celebrations that are "over the top," but certainly not so stringent that a guy could not spike the ball, slam dunk on the goal post, toss it in the air or some such thing. Lighten up Pac 10, NCAA. The officials should have enough leeway and common sense to be able to tell the difference between what is taunting or excessive celebration and what is merely an exhuberant expression. This pharisaic ruling needs to be done away with (as a vast majority of the great, and wise :-) sports talking heads agree) and a more reasonable, balanced regulation needs to be adopted. Unfortunately, this turns into another illustration of the all too common occurence that refs shouldn't decide games, just be the facilitatators of them. Now, Tyrone Willingham, who is already on the coaching hotseat, may ultimately suffer the consequences of this loss (that may or may not have happened, but UW at least would have had a fair, fighting chance in OT).
For what it's worth, Locker is a great athlete. I watched him pick apart (by his running and passing) our area Prosser team in the Washington state 3A championship a few years ago...a team that had the new all-time leading state passer in Kellen Moore (now at Boise State) and, who were not only previously undefeated, but had wiped out the competition all year. And so...here is a crazy prediction -- Locker, inspired by what has happened over the past week, actually leads UW to a big upset of the University of Oklahoma this weekend. Yeah, I know it's crazy, but what I have I got to lose, really ;-). Blessings,