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05 Oct 2009

One Foot Inbounds: Excessive Celebration Calls are ... Excessive

by Robert Weintraub

Why does any kid play football? Maybe there is parental or peer pressure for some, but I like to think that most get into the game to have fun. And while the number of people who take college football far, far too seriously is depressingly high, most kids who play are still in it for the fun of the game.

Which is why I’ve always hated celebration penalties. Sure, there is a line after which celebration becomes taunting, I suppose. But of the many "excessive celebration" penalties that I have seen called this season, maybe, maybe, one was just rubbing it in the opponent’s face. The rest have merely been properly expressed joy at scoring or preventing a score.

Which brings us to the LSU-Georgia game. You probably saw or heard what happened -- Georgia’s superstar sophomore receiver A.J. Green made a spectacular catch for the go-ahead score in a taut, extremely emotional contest played in one of the sport’s loudest venues. Georgia led 13-12 with about a minute to play. But Green was penalized 15 critical yards for doing what came naturally -- celebrating with his teammates while Sanford Stadium went ballistic. There was no taunting, no "dig me," no obscene gestures. Just pure joy.

Kicking off from its own 15-yard line, Georgia allowed a long return by LSU’s Trindon Holliday. Two plays later, Charles Scott busted a few tackles and ran in from 32 yards away for the real game-winner. He too, after jumping up and down with his teammates, was called for excessive celebration. The referees seemed determined to be noticed. It wasn’t necessary -- thanks to the game’s umpire and the biggest, beefiest striped shirt I have ever seen, they couldn’t go unnoticed.

Down here in the Dirty South, many dyed-in-the-wool Georgia fans believe SEC refs have been directed to toss flags whenever a Bulldog player so much as claps his hands, a direct result of the all-in celebration in the Georgia-Florida game from 2007 (after Georgia's first score, the entire team poured into the end zone to celebrate). Those of us who don’t see black helicopters hovering above Athens think it is simply enforcement of a bad rule.

So here’s a modest suggestion: If the NCAA competition committee is so worried about showboating and potential taunting, keep the rule in place. But reduce the penalty to five yards. That still sends a message that coaches will enforce in meetings, but it doesn’t affect a game so dramatically in the final minutes, as happened Saturday. Such a tense and hard-fought ballgame shouldn’t be remembered for a dubious call.

Give LSU credit. The Bayou Bengals proved to be a better survive-and-advance squad than their hosts. LSU has found ways to win for the last two weeks, perhaps a result of CBS executives putting their voodoo dolls to good use. Now next Saturday’s prime time battle in Death Valley with Tim Tebow, er, No. 1 Florida, carries major juice.

Unlike Georgia, Miami didn’t let a bad call cost them the game. Up 21-10 and partying like it was 2001 against Oklahoma, an inexplicable roughing the punter call gave the Sooners new life, and soon thereafter, a new number on the scoreboard. Just when it seemed Oklahoma would steal the game from the young Hurricanes, the unheralded Miami offensive line, led by A.J. Trump and Joel Figueroa, caved in Oklahoma’s defense, paving the way for a few first downs and a memorable clock-kill. Jacory Harris, out of the Virginia rain and restored to excellence, will get the glory for the key third-down conversion that sealed it, but it was the big uglies who really made it happen.

After a sloppy, near-disaster of a first half, Miami turned the game on a tremendous hit on the second half's opening kickoff. It was a blast reminiscent of the huge block Jordan Futch threw on a punt return in the Georgia Tech game, only more important. The swagger is back on special teams, anyway. Two plays later, Brandon Harris had a sack-n-strip of quarterback Landry Jones, and The U immediately stuck it in the end zone to take its first lead.

Speaking of swagger, TCU was struggling with SMU when freshman linebacker Tanner Brock threw a huge block on special teams -- minus his helmet. Brock may have more gumption than gray matter, but that’s what makes winning football teams. Horned Frog Jeremy Kerley scored on the play, a 71-yard punt return, thanks to the bare-headed de-cleater, and TCU kept the Iron Skillet Trophy. (Who plays for the Huddle House, Florida International and Georgia Southern?)

Wisconsin’s John Clay is a nationally undersung back, but he gashed Minnesota for three scores, and the Badgers edged the Gophers in the smallish mammal battle, 31-28, to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Remember, Jahvid Best went for five touchdowns on the ground in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago, proving ... something, I guess. Mainly, the Gophers need to work on their run keys. Paul Bunyan’s Trophy, as opposed to his Axe, stays with Sparty for another year, but please don’t blame Tate Forcier. Last week in this space I goofed on the Michigan quarterback's instant legend, but after his fourth quarter in East Lansing, I believe!

Despite a rain that would have crippled Noah’s offensive game plan, and despite thorough exhaustion, Forcier led the Wolverines on a breathless 13-play, 91-yard drive with no timeouts. On several occasions, Forcier was forcie-d to improvise due to bad snaps, but he always made a positive play despite the conditions, both in the air and on the ground. He capped the amazing sequence with a touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with two ticks left. But a deflected interception in overtime likely prevented an on-field presentation of the Heisman Trophy to Forcier. Instead, MSU got to trot around the field with the Bunyan Trophy.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, that was too much celebration for the NCAA, so they will begin next season’s game with Michigan by kicking off from the 15-yard line.


  • In the contest of Paul Bunyan Trophy vs. Paul Bunyan’s Axe, I used to side with the tree chopping implement. But I got a good look at the trophy after Michigan State earned it Saturday. Paul is depicted as a barrel-chested, hands-on-hips badass. The trophy itself could be flagged for excessive celebration in today’s atmosphere.
  • With a Roundtree and a (Junior) Hemingway catching passes, there is barely enough room in Michigan’s receiving corps for more manliness, so perhaps it’s best they didn’t take home the Bunyan.
  • I fully expected to wake up Sunday morning with the sun rising in the west. What other explanation is possible for Virginia and Maryland both winning impressively in conference on the same afternoon, other than the world spinning onto a different axis?
  • Speaking of shockers -- UTEP? Seriously? The Miners got jacked by Texas last week, 64-7! Bevo even scored a touchdown on them. My crush on Houston goes unrequited. The Cougars beat OU and TTU, but can’t handle four-letter acronyms, apparently.
  • Clemson’s C.J. Spiller: another week, another long touchdown (this one a kickoff return), another injury. He is the college version of Felix Jones.
  • More ACC craziness -- North Carolina State quaterback Russell Wilson hadn’t thrown a pick in an NCAA-record 379 passes until Wake Forest's Josh Bush got one. Then, with the Wolfpack down six but threatening with two minutes left, he threw another interception in the end zone, and Wake won 30-24.
  • Gene Chizik continues his impressive start -- Auburn gritted out a road win at Tennessee mainly by wearing down the valiant Volunteers defense, which gets zero support from quarterback/underminer Jonathan Crompton. All-American safety Eric Berry was begging the Tennessee offense to get a first down, for cripes sake, so he and his mates could get a blow. Auburn quarterback Chris Todd made several good throws under duress, Auburn’s wideouts blocked savagely, as usual, and War Eagle is unbeaten, and a factor in the SEC West -- more so than Ole Miss, two developments forecast before the season by Varsity Numbers gurus Connolly and Fremeau, I hasten to add. Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead is an All-American candidate and potential top draft choice? He looks like Norm Snead out there, and Norm turned 70 this year.
  • Chizik wasn’t exactly welcomed to the Plains with open arms, but he was clearly missed at Iowa State -- the Cyclones seemingly forced overtime against Kansas State at Arrowhead Stadium with a late touchdown, but Emmanuel Lamur blocked the extra point, giving Kansas State a miracle win.
  • Speaking of wild endings, Toledo and Ball State had one for the ages. With forty seconds left, Ball scored to cut Toledo’s lead to 29-28. They went for two, and made like Boise State by going for two and making it on a Statue of Liberty play. But the lead lasted all of 15 seconds, enough time for Aaron Opelt to find a (somehow) wide-open Stephen Williams for a touchdown bomb, and the Rockets won 37-30. Take away a whitewashing at the hands of Ohio State, and Toledo is averaging 42 points per game. Opelt and company are damn exciting to watch. Their battle with Central Michigan on Nov. 11 will likely decide the MAC West title.
  • Speaking of conjuring a way to lose -- somehow, Florida State lost at Boston College, a result almost as shocking as ESPN Gameday’s decision to do the show from Chestnut Hill this week. Since October 15, 2005, when night FSU lost to unranked Virginia in CharlottesVegas, the Seminoles are 25-24 against FBS competition. A solitary game above .500 in a half-century worth of action. I’d say it was long past time for Burt Reynolds to step in and convince Bobby Bowden to hang up his dadgums, don’t you?

The OFI Top 25

Every week, Robert Weintraub participates in the CBS Blogpoll. This is a copy of his ballot.

Rank Team Delta
1 Florida
2 Alabama
3 Texas
4 Ohio State
5 Virginia Tech 1
6 Boise State 1
7 Southern Cal 2
8 Cincinnati 2
9 Auburn 2
10 TCU 3
11 LSU 4
12 Miami (Florida) 2
13 Oregon
14 Notre Dame 2
15 Wisconsin
16 Oklahoma 8
17 South Carolina 2
18 West Virginia
19 Oklahoma State 1
20 South Florida 5
21 Iowa
22 Stanford
23 Brigham Young
24 Georgia Tech
25 Kansas 3
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Houston (#7), Michigan (#12), Georgia (#17), California (#18), Nebraska (#24).

Lurking: Nebraska, Pitt, Ole Miss, Utah, Idaho

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 05 Oct 2009

55 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2009, 7:57pm by zlionsfan


by Morgan Edge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:27pm

I have always thought they should suspend the excessive celebration rule in the last five minutes of a college game. College teams should be allowed to go nuts if they make a big score against a hated rival. Isn't that why we love college more than pro football due to the exuberance of players and fans?

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:45pm

I just so happened to watch that LSU game and those calls were horrible. What did the guy do wrong? He made an amazing play in the heat of battle in what seemed like the game winning TD? They they called it on the LSU RB as the refs seemingly had to to save face.

I don't like hot dogs and those predetermined Joe Horn cell phone celebrations as much as the next guy, but that crazy. He wasn't showing anybody up, he wasn't excessive, the guy made a play and he was amped.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:45pm

Maybe, instead of sniveling about a rule Big Media tells us to hate, maybe, just maybe, we should raise our children to behave with class, poise, and dignity on the worlds stage. While I don't believe that either of the two flags in the Georgia game were warrented, I also don't like the fact that people are using it to grind an axe. The problem isn't the rule. The problem is the behavior which necessiates the rule. Perhaps, instead of lowering our standards, we should remember to behave less like Deion Sanders and more like Barry Sanders. Making a big play is not a license to act like a jackass. I know my momma raised me better then that.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:53pm

That's basically the logic of "it's OK to put innocent men in jail if it assures guilty men don't go free," which I can't say I agree with.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:12pm

I'm not sure I follow how the analogy applies. The ref made a bad call. That doesn't make the rule itself bad. The behavior which prompted the rule is the problem, even if that behavior was not on display in this specific example.

How many times have you seen a lineman hold a defensive end. You see blown calls there all the time. Should we then legalize holding because the refs can't enforce the rule with 100% accuracy?

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:20pm

Apparently running over and hugging ones' teammates is "acting like a jackass", now. Apparently pointing to Heaven and shushing the crowd is "acting like a jackass". Pretty soon, tossing the ball to the ref will be acting like a jackass- really classy individuals walk over and politely HAND the ball to the referee while complimenting him on his uniform and inquiring as to whether he's lost weight recently.

Football is an emotional game, especially rivalries. Football coaches spend all week (sometimes *ALL YEAR*) preparing the team for 60 minutes on the field. They go over history, they remind the team how much they've been disrespected, they create an emotional frenzy. When the game kicks off, every player on the field is trying to hit the opposing players in the mouth so hard they'll remember it. They're trying not just to win, but to dominate the opponent, to not allow a yard, to never punt. All the while, they're getting hit in the mouth by a team that's trying equally hard to dominate them. They're playing through injuries, they're running on adrenaline, they're playing in front of a crowd of 100,000 and on TV in front of millions of strangers, family members, mortal enemies, believers, doubters, scouts, and armchair QBs. They're well aware of the fact that a single play in a rivalry game can immortalize you in school lore, because they've heard the stories about previous players who made a big play in a big game. With 2 minutes left in the game, they make an amazing play that might have just earned them football immortality. After being wound so tight for so long, after focusing all of their energies on that one goal and finally reaching it, OF COURSE the first reaction is one of uncontained and uncontrollable emotion. That's not "behaving without class", that's having blood pumping through your veins. I can't think of *ANYONE* I know who would not react with a spontaneous outburst of emotion in that situation- and I know plenty of classy people. Suggesting that this is somehow anything other than a ludicrous enforcement that goes far above and beyond the spirit of the rule is absurd.

I'm all for punishing premeditated, scripted, or overly choreographed celebrations, but in my opinion there is absolutely 0 way the refs should ever punish a genuinely spontaneous outpouring of emotion.

I suppose you think that Tiger Woods is totally classless, too. I mean, have you ever seen the way he fist pumps after making a huge career-defining shot? What a tool. And don't even get me started on Brandy Chastain. If there's ever been a more classless woman to walk this planet, I'm sure I've never met her.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:38pm

Apparently, putting words in someone elses mouth and making up a bunch of extreme examples passes for rational debate?

Funny how football was an emotional game for what, 50 or 100 years? And it wasn't until the last 30 or so that the yuppie generation decided that somehow this was acceptable behavior. I guess there weren't rivalries and pep talks back then?

The real irony is that in your attempt to portray me as some sort of zealot, you screwed up. Because yes, I do think that a soccer player - male or female - ripping their shirt off after they score a goal, pretty much qualifies as acting like a jackass. Big Media will never report it, but the minute she ripped her shirt off, the moment stopped being about Team USA, and started being about one individual.

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:01pm

Wow. You're actually chastising others for failing to adhere to standards of "rational debate", at the same time you're engaged in making an argument that rests on about a dozen logical fallacies, and might just qualify as the least rational argument in FO history?

Show some mercy for the irony meter.

Oh, and if the goal is to do away with anything that celebrates the individual, should they stop giving out individual awards, like the Heisman? Doesn't that take away from the "team" concept?

by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:01pm

Seriously MC2? Use some examples rather than just posting about 'logical fallacies' so you can use big words. The least rational post in FO history? You haven't been here long have you?

Actually you kind of prove Dean's point. Everything is overblown these days. Every big game is the 'game of the century'. Every above average athlete in his field is 'the greatest ever' or needs to be discussed as, to see if he truly is. With all of this smoke blowing, 24/7 media coverage every time an athlete sneezes is it any wonder they act like they do in front of a camera? I've played the game so I understand the emotion of it, but it doesn't immediately invalidate someone else's point. Go back and watch some games from the 40's and 50's. How did they act when they scored? Similar or different? This will tell you if they in fact have a point. I'm inclined to believe it's true - without having studied older footage at any length....and believing that if we didn't make such a big deal out of sports, it wouldn't be a big showboating deal.....whether that can be proven is unlikely, it's more of an opinion topic overall.

by MC2 :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 4:21pm

I'd be willing to bet I've been here longer than you. As for saying it was the least rational post in FO history, I'll admit that was a bit of hyperbole, or maybe I should say it was an example of "exaggerating for rhetorical effect", since "big words" like "hyperbole" seem to confuse you.

As for your rambling, pointless tirade (sorry about the "big words", I just can't seem to dumb my comments down enough for guys like you), it utterly fails to address the substance of my argument. Yes, customs were different in the '40s and '50s than they are now - not just in football, but in all walks of life. That obvious fact, however, in no way refutes my claim that frequent and harsh penalties for celebrations do more harm than good.

I've got a tip for you. The next time you feel like posting a long, rambling rant, try having a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the reader. Maybe after you've been here a little longer, you'll figure that out.

by BaconAndWaffles :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:22pm

I think you need to take it down a notch. "Kids these day don't know how to act" is tired rhetoric that no one ultimately believes. And college football is not the world's stage. Regardless of how many people may be watching on TV, it is people watching football because they want to watch football and root for one of the teams. There is no need to make it bigger than what it is.

There are a few simple quidelines that can easily curb excessive celebration - nothing choreographed/staged, no taunting the other team or fans, and a waring by a referee to get off of the field before throwing the flag. Want to celebrate with your teammates - fine, want to do a quick victory dance - fine, all the ref need to do is say "you've had your fun, now head to the sideline". I'd like to think that refs and players can handle that. If a team is too worked up to recognize a warning to move along, then you are probably reaching the point of excessive.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:44pm

"I think you need to take it down a notch."

Thank you for telling me what I need to do.

The irony here is that the rest of your comment seems to agree with my original point - that the behavior wasn't over the line in this case, but that there is still a need for the rule.

by BaconAndWaffles :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:20pm

No, I don't think our points agree at all. You point was that mommas need to do a better job of raising their sons. My point was that the rule can be adjusted to be reasonable and allow celebration. I don't really care if someone wants to celebrate excessively, that's on them.

Also, at the risk of straying too far off of the path, I think there are some cultural differences to people's ideas of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This very much reminds me of David Stern issuing a dress code to NBA players. And just to be safe, I am not directing this comment to anyone specifically - it is a generalization of the overall issue.

by Martial (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:00am

Sociologist John Fiske, in looking specifically at celebrations in professional football in his 1993 book Power Plays, Power Works, writes, “The argument is not over what constitutes sportsmanlike conduct, but over who controls its constitution.”

This rhetorical question is set up through an introductory discussion of employer imposed discipline that does not spare our entertainment. “The football stadium is a workplace that, like any other, disciplines the bodies and behaviors of those stationed within it. American football workers are a tightly disciplined workforce: plays and players are subjected to a finely organized game plan and the controlling body disciplines players and coaches who break its codes of proper, sportsmanlike behavior. ...

“In 1984 and 1991, the NFL changed its rules to extend its control over “any prolonged, excessive, or premeditated celebration by individual players or groups of players.” The terms “prolonged” and “excessive” police the boundaries within which “spontaneity” must be contained, and “premeditated” responds to the threat of another system of control, planned by players rather than coaches and the NFL.”

The same, of course, can be said about the NCAA. Fiske goes on to introduce a reading that raises awareness of race and who exactly is being considered "unsportsmanlike". These quotes don't do the argument justice, but I didn't want to post three pages of text.

“Lurking beneath the disciplinary norms of sportsmanship is racial power. ...

“Improvisation ... becomes a practice of agency which demonstrates that what people do with a determining structure is far from totally determined. Indeed, in both sport and in those musical forms originating in subordinated cultures, improvisation rather than structure typically provides the high points. The tension between improvisation and structure is a tension between bottom-up and top-down control which has become within certain spheres, a legitimated source of pleasure in our culture. The NFL, therefore, could not recognize and risk legitimizing undesirable Black behavior as improvised, so it designated it as “premeditated” (the exact opposite) and thus discursively legitimated not this behavior but its own right to control it.”

Let me also recommend Vernon Andrews’ article, “Black bodies—White control: The contested terrain of sportsmanlike conduct” from the June 1996 Journal of African American Studies. Fiske relies for some of his interpretation on an earlier, unpublished version of this paper.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:45pm

Yeah those two excessive celebration calls were two of the worst calls I've ever seen. I agree with #1 and I said the same thing during the game, there should be no excessive celebration calls during the last few minutes of the game. Do people really expect a college kid to score a game-winning touchdown and thne just politely hand the ball to the refs and walk to the sidelines?

Of course not. I understand they don't want crazy TO or Ochocinco celebrations, but expecting the players not to be pumped up when they score is ridiculous. I can't believe you would call a penalty for a player who just scored pointing his fingers to the sky or jumping into the arms of his teammates.

by Jack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:55pm

I 100% agree that the call against UGA was horrible, but the obvious make up call was worse. But I also believe that this rule does have a place in college football, if used correctly. Hand the ball off, run over to your sideline and then celebrate. I don't think that's difficult. The problem isn't the rule, as Dean said, it's the poor enforcement of the rule. And he has a point that if there wasn't a history of poor sportsmanship (UGA last year), the rule wouldn't be necessary. And the comment by Flounder is one of the most ridiculous and ignorant I've read at FO. Way to go.

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:55pm

Flounder's comment is 100% correct. If you don't understand why, perhaps you should reread Dean's comment, and take the logic presented therein to its conclusion.

by Jack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:37pm

Dean's comment has nothing to do with innocence or guilt, right or wrong, whatever. He simply says that there is a reason for the rule. The reason being a history/presence of conduct that can be viewed as taunting. In no way did he or I agree with the calls from that game. As stated elsewhere, because not every holding penalty is called, should we stop calling that also? Do we need to go to instant replay in order to determine if it was incidental conduct to overturn a DPI penalty? In your case, would that be like going to the Appellate Court? And if it isn't overturned, wouldn't that be the more analogous situation? The reason I say its ignorant, is because you're comparing owning Boardwalk with real wealth. On a lighter note, I think the better analogy would have been "Don't hate the player, hate the game."

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:59pm

It has everything to do with right and wrong. Dean says, "The problem isn't the rule. The problem is the behavior which necessiates the rule." This statement clearly implies that if there is a problem, that "necessiates" a rule to solve that problem, regardless of whether said rule creates more problems than it solves (or punishes the innocent more often than the guilty).

If you use Dean's logic, your reply to a man who complained that he had been unfairly convicted of murder would be to say, "Quit whining. Maybe you didn't really commit murder, but that's irrelevant. If you want to blame someone, blame all the real murderers out there. It's their fault that we had to lower the burden of proof. If we hadn't done that, some of the murderers might have gone free".

Bottom line: If a rule leads to more bad calls than good calls, there's probably something wrong with the rule. It's as simple as that.

by Jack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:23pm

So what you're saying is that if there is a problem that cannot be solved absolutely, then it should not even be attempted? Why not put the onus on the refs? Have the SEC officials come out and admitted fault? Outside of baiting me into some sort of drawn out conversation, I'm having a hard time even seeing your side. Your bottom line is also flawed in that there's no way to prove it. Maybe a handful of calls like this affect a game a year, so how can you possibly suggest it does more harm than good?

I'll give you this and I'm done. For UGA, I can possibly see a relationship, based on what happened against UF. So in their case, yes, the burden of proof was lowered because of a previous act, and in this case they were not given the benifit of the doubt and it cost them the game. However, if a sex offender moves into your neighborhood, are you going to give them the benifit of the doubt? Would you let them hang out at the park with your kids? I didn't think so.

by Jack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:30pm

Not to mention he even states, "Perhaps, instead of lowering our standards, we should remember to behave less like Deion Sanders and more like Barry Sanders." ie. In the future, if people act correctly, the rule may no longer be needed; if there is no alcohol, why do we need DUIs, no guns no gun crimes, etc. But because we have all those things and people that act a certain way, we need those rules. No where does he state that it's better to incorrectly flag a couple teams for the greater good, which is what Flounder suggests with his ignorant metaphor.

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:51pm

It's ironic that you mention laws against drugs and guns, since those are precisely the types of laws that tend to do more harm than good, but out of respect for the "no politics" rule, I don't think we should go any further down that road.

by Martial (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:42pm

What is "acting correctly"? If you asked everyone on FO how to celebrate a collegiate TD, you'd get a large range - with quite a bit outside of the boundaries set by the NCAA. You'd also likely find that there was some boundary past which 99% of us would not go. I'm much more interested in that point than the fantasy that there is some normative "correct".

Barry Sanders, it should also be pointed out, was "performing" just as much as Deion. A lack of expression is just as much a response to the emotional culture of football as exuberance is to the discipline. Being cool can be just as antagonizing (sometimes moreso) to the people it is directed at as showboating. How infuriating was it to the rest of the Big Eight when Sanders scored yet another TD and handed the ball off to an official like it was nothing?

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:48pm

Clearly, you can't refute the logic of my argument, so rather than admit that the position you're trying to defend is untenable, you construct strawman arguments, throw out red herrings about sex offenders, and make bizarre accusations that I'm trying to "bait" you into a conversation. I thought people came to message boards because they wanted to engage in conversations. Silly me!

So what you're saying is that if there is a problem that cannot be solved absolutely, then it should not even be attempted?

That's obviously not what I'm saying. I thought I put it very clearly. If the cure is worse than the disease, you should find a new cure, or simply put up with the disease. To do otherwise is cutting your nose off to spite your face. In this case, it's clear that the rule does more harm than good. The refs have obviously been told to err on the side of calling the penalty (which can change the outcome of a game) rather than letting it go (which, at most, results in some hurt feelings). It's like a 20-year sentence for stealing a candy bar.

You act as if this was an isolated case, but I hear fans complaining about these types of calls virtually every week. When was the last time anyone complained about an excessive celebration penalty not being called? I rest my case.

by jjack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 8:10pm

So, you're "obviously not saying" that if a problem cannot be solved absolutely, then it shouldn't be attempted. But you are saying, "If the cure is worse than the disease, find a new cure or put up with the disease." Why? Why put up with anything that can be remedied. Once again, your does more harm than good statement can never be measured.

Do you know the refs were told told err on the side of caution? What fans do you hear griping about this and how often does it change the outcome of a game? I would imagine (which is what you're doing) that the majority of griping you hear is coming from teams that are down 30 and the opposing team does a flip into the endzone.

Since we're turning this into a thought experiment about what could and couldn't happen (hurt feelings vs. changing outcome), think about this. Winning team scores, does backflips into endzone, points at crowd, points at a bunch of KIDS who just lost. Losing team with nothing to play for except retribution at this point, decides maybe I'll try and take a knee out. Losing fans say, maybe I'll just throw one battery on the field. I'm all for competition and passion for the game, but maybe by throwing a flag when warranted could save someone's career. This penalty is about sportsmanship, which if practiced at a young age, might eliminate the need for such a penalty.

by Just a moment... (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 9:40pm

"Winning team scores, does backflips into endzone, points at crowd, points at a bunch of KIDS who just lost."

And that would be a legitimate penalty. But that's not what happened here.

That's the problem with this whole line of thinking: the penalties called weren't for anything excessive or inappropriate. Usually when you here people complaining about these penalties, as in this case, its because the call wasn't warranted. Its overzealous enforcement on the part of the officials.

Its like saying that cops should give speeding tickets to people who go the speed limit just to discourage them from speeding in the future (or maybe to fill their ticket quotas). Why should people who follow the rules be penalized? Who does that help?

by jack :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 9:55pm

Once again, I think that the calls were completely ridiculous. And everything you typed in that last paragraph are exactly what I'm against. But that has nothing to do with the rule itself, which is to promote good sportsmanship, which is part of what college sports is all about. If you had bothered to read the previous posts, you would have seen that MC and myself were in the middle of a thought experiment, so your entire post is taking me out of context. Now I know how TO feels.

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:23pm

Why put up with something that can be remedied? By that logic, why put up with an ingrown toenail when you could "remedy" it by having your foot amputated?

As for the hypothetical you raise, I disagree that the players are "kids". People say this all the time about college athletes, but it's just not true. These are adults, who are considered old enough to drive, to vote, to have sex, to fight in wars, etc. They're certainly old enough to know that being taunted is not a justification for trying to seriously injure someone.

Any player who commits a dirty play to try to injure their opponent should be harshly punished (not just a penalty, but a suspension as well). Any fan who throws anything on the field should be at minimum kicked out of the game, and possibly barred from future games. But that's true regardless of whether they were "provoked" or not. In other words, the key to preventing such behavior is not to try to eliminate anything which might cause frustration, which is an impossible goal. Rather, it is to make clear to both players and fans that such violent behavior constitutes an unacceptable reaction to feelings of frustration.

by jack :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:24am

Read your last sentence again, and then apply it to my line of thinking about the excessive celebration rule. The rule "is to make clear to both players and" coaches "that such" unsportsmanlike "behavior constitutes an unacceptable reaction to feelings of" elation. Enjoy the rest of your week

by MC2 :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 4:26pm

You're right. That would be a great way to suck the excitement out of the game. Another possibility would be to outlaw cheering during plays, like they do in tennis and golf. Personally, I think that would take something away from the game, but that's a matter of opinion, I guess.

by jack :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 5:12pm

Who's throwing out the red herring now? What a ridiculous reply when I called you on making my point for me. Thanks. After all this, Flounder's comment STILL bares no correlation to Dean's.

by MC2 :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 6:08pm

There's nothing ridiculous about it. You obviously think that preventing hurt feelings is more important than maintaining the competitive integrity of the game, not to mention the intense atmosphere that's unique to the college game. I happen to think that's a tradeoff that's not worth making. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.

And just to be clear, I'm not saying that there should be no rule against excessive celebration. I'm just saying that the rule should be changed to define "excessive" much more narrowly and to make the penalty less harsh. But if it's a choice between the current system vs. no penalty at all, I'll definitely take no penalty at all, just like I'll put up with an ingrown toenail if the only other choice is having my foot amputated.

by jack :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:40pm

I obviously don't think hurt feelings are more important than the competitive integrity of the game. I do, however, think that sportsmanship is right up there with things like honor, courage, and since you brought it up, integrity. That said, I'm in complete agreement that the rule could use a little tweaking, specifically after scores. I think there is still a place for the 15 yarder though (standing over and taunting a QB after a sack). I hope you never have an ingrown toenail, but thankfully there's a minor surgery to take care of it. No hatchet needed.

by TV_Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:07pm

It looked to me like the umpire warned the Bulldogs about their celebration and directed them to their bench. It was at this point that AJ Green continued his celebration, including pointing up into the stands.

If a ref warns a player about a celebration and the player continues, isn't that cause for a flag?

Even then, however, that is probably the most marginal call (or set of calls) I have seen. And, yes, I suspect Georgia may still be paying for the entire team rushing the field in 2007.

by Kal :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:22pm

I think that there should definitely be an excessive celebration penalty - but the verbiage needs to be cleaned up considerably and the actual actions allowed need to be much, much more lenient than they are.

It especially should be reined in when dealing with close games at the end of the game. I am not saying it had any actual effect in deciding this game, but that we could even ask the question and expect the answer reasonably is an egregious error.

by J.D. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:01pm


Outlaw taunting, clearly excessive individual preening, and premeditated routines. Flagging anything else takes away from the joy of the game and the natural exuberance of 18-to-22 year olds.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 12:05pm

Am I seriously the only poster here who doesn't think excessive celebration penalties should exist at all? In particular, why the dislike of choreographed routines and props? Chad Johnson's various businesses are funny. Randy Moss pretending to moon opposition fans is funny. If grown men can't take a bit of mockery, it's their own look-out. Cricket's widely regarded as one of the world's more gentlemanly sports, but the practice of sledging, which has gone on throughout the game's history, goes far beyond much of what football regards as penalisable taunting.

Rod Marsh: So, how's your wife and my kids?
Ian Botham: The wife's fine, but the kids are retarded.

Mark Waugh (brother of legendary Australia captain Steve): What the hell are you doing out here? You're not good enough to play for England?
Jimmy Ormond: I may not be the best cricketer in the world, but at least I'm the best cricketer in my own family.

Arjuna Ranatunga calls for a runner. Ian Healy: You don't get a runner for being an unfit, overweight, fat c---.

Honestly, the NCAA, the NFL and everyone else (including FIFA and the FA, come to that - Robbie Fowler "snorting" the goal line was hilarious) need to grow up and stop whining about a bit of fun.

by Martial (not verified) :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 2:03pm

Was I too subtle?

The rules on excessive celebration suck.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/08/2009 - 3:12am

I agree with you. Especially considering there are already rules in place for extreme situations. Namely, taunting and delay of game.

by Kramer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:47pm

What about directing officiating crews to mark the ball ready for play for the extra point as quick as possible, without waiting for a celebration to subside. That way, the penalty is either a 5-yard delay of game penalty, or a time out to avoid the penalty.

by mental :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:57pm

A half-century is 50 years, not 5. FSU is more than 100 games over .500 since 1959.

by Botswana Meat Commission FC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:08pm

Horrible, ridiculous, retarded penalties. I actually think the whole excessive celebration rule is mainly a race issue. Lots of my fellow whities just don't like seeing a diamond-earring wearing brother strutting around and dancing like Ickey Woods.

Personally, I think it injects a little personality into a game where most players are completely anonymous. Plus it's fun to root against people like T.O., Ocho, etc., when they're playing on the other team. Hines Ward just isn't NEARLY as much fun to hate.

And I actually prefer there to be some chroeography. Take a little time to plan out your little end zone dance. Show some pride! Obviously you do have to draw the line somewhere though. I'd say... no sideline props, no players who weren't on the field when the play occurred, no instigating the other team's players into a fight and no actual delaying of the game.

by southpaw (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:18pm

Thank you. Another example, and far worse as far as truly affecting the outcome of the game, was BYU - Washington last year. Kicker gets moved back 15 on the XP, XP is blocked, and BYU "wins".

At the very, very least, I want to see the rules committee change the yardage to reinforce that true "taunting" is a more severe penalty, because it is. Celebrating with teammates should not equal gesturing at an opponent or throwing the ball at the mascot. Make "excessive celebration" 10, maybe even just 5 like a delay of game, and keep overt taunting at 15.

The game of football can not and should not be held to pro golf standards of etiquette. The game is too emotional and too physical, and at the collegiate level, is being played by very young men under intense pressure. Cut them some damn slack.

by Rover (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:31pm

What's the case for Ohio State at #4? I don't see any "good" wins that ratchet them up, except Indiana. All or some of Bosie State, USC, Miami, LSU, Stanford, and Wisconsin seem to have better wins.

And if you find merit in "they just baaaarely lost to USC" does consistency require a demerit because "they just baaaarely beat Navy"?

by Tom Malone (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:32pm

I agree. Too high.

by Tom Malone (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:31pm

Why is Oklahoma still in the top 25? Georgia loses to OK St. and LSU in a thriller and gets demoted out of the top 25. Oklahoma loses to BYU and Miami in a thriller and stays ranked. They both should be out.

by Fourth :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:00pm

I'm not sure if this is the reason in this case, but Oklahoma is about to get a little to a lot better on offense when Bradford returns. No, he can't block for himself, but there will be some improvement. At this point in the season I think it's still ok to be somewhat speculative as to the future performance of teams, and not look strictly at W-L records/past performance. If you do that, then yeah I think OU with Bradford would be favored over all the teams from 19 on down.

Or it could just be that Georgia's 10 point loss to Ok St isn't as bad as OU's 1 point loss to BYU.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here because I think there are rational arguments for including Oklahoma in the top 25. I'd probably have UGA hanging on in the 20's too, personally.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:52pm

I am a big Wisky guy, but 15th in the country is crazy talk. Wisconsin has a pretty diverse offense, an ok front seven, highly questionable secondary and special teams that are so-so thanks to dreadful coverage offset by good kicker/punter.

That and the head coach can't manage the end of a half/game to save his own life.

Wisconsin's O-line has to somehow keep Tolzien upright, avoid fumbling (a chronic problem to date), get in Pryor's face AND play contain and tackle/tackle/tackle. if they are to win this coming Saturday. An upset is certainly feasible given that Tolzien has shocked me, literally, with his ability to both recognize and avoid letting a blitzer blow up a play. Historically WI quarterbacks get clobbered unless the call from the sideline has anticipated a blitz. Despite this being his first season starting Tolzien has managed to figure this out sufficiently to keep his sack total to date to 3. I find this astonishing because the WI offensive line's strength is brute strength versus the technique required in pass-blocking. The right tackle in particular has bad feet and has several times almost gotten his quarterback planted in the sod.

But that is where the tight ends come in play. Both are playing well, both can catch AND block and both are great security blankets for the qb.

ON defense it will be up to the front seven. Period. Nobody in Badgerland has any faith in the secondary to cover a receiver in adequate fashion.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 8:11pm

1. Alabama (5-0)
2. Florida (4-0)
3. LSU (5-0)
4. Virginia Tech (4-1)
5. Iowa (5-0)
6. Texas (4-0)
7. Cincinnati (5-0)
8. Miami (3-1)
9. South Florida (5-0)
10. Southern Cal (4-1)
11. Auburn (4-0)
12. Penn State (4-1)
13. Boise State (5-0)
14. Ohio State (4-1)
15. Missouri (4-0)
16. TCU (4-0)
17. Nebraska (3-1)
18. Oregon (4-1)
19. Wisconsin (5-0)
20. Georgia Tech (4-1)
21. Houston (3-1)
22. Oklahoma State (3-1)
23. Georgia (3-2)
24. South Carolina (4-1)
25. Mississippi (3-1)

by t.d. :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 1:29am

virginia tech is awful, and their only impressive victory was severly impacted by weather. there's no way they should be rated ahead of any undefeated major conference teams

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 12:19am

Are you calling the Miami victory "impressive", or the Nebraska win? As in, which one are you leaving out?

All things being relative, they both look really good to me. As opposed to any of Texas' wins thus far?

by t.d. :: Thu, 10/08/2009 - 4:29am

I'm calling the Miami victory 'impressive'. If they can arrange to play in a driving rainstorm every week, I'd concede Va Tech would be 'impressive', it plays to their strengths. Nebraska's going to go 8-4 in a down big 12. No props for that. Texas is about to be tested, and if they fail, they'll drop.

by Lance :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:55pm

I'm reading this a few days late, but re "The Cougars beat OU and TTU, but can’t handle four-letter acronyms, apparently," the Cougars beat OSU, not OU.

by jayinalaska :: Thu, 10/08/2009 - 1:18am

Wow! I can't believe you actually moved Notre Dame up 2 notches to 14 after they barely survived Washington at home. Yes, Washington is a better team this year, but they're still not world beaters. Like last week, I still think Notre Dame is not much better than 25. If they beat USC in two weeks, then I might agree they deserve to be ranked around 15. --Jay

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 7:57pm

And weeks later, you're still right: Ralph Bolden drawing a 15-yard penalty for hugging Purdue Pete after scoring against Michigan State. WTF?