It’s almost 24 hours later, and it’s still hard to believe how badly Washington got screwed at the end of their game against BYU. I know I shouldn’t be shocked by a blown call by a Pac-10 officiating crew (the Tweedledums of the college football world) in the Pacific Northwest (there is precedent after all), but I still am. Even more shocking: the blown call went against the Pac-10 team.
Here’s what happened - Washington’s Jake Locker scored on an amazing scramble with two seconds left to bring the Huskies to within one point of the Cougars. As Ty Willingham appeared to be signaling an all-or-nothing two-point conversion attempt, the officials threw am extremely dubious flag on Locker for excessive celebratio. Which led to a blocked 35-yard PAT attempt and a heartbreaking 28-27 loss for Washington.
Video after the jump.
Larry Farina, the referee who made the call is claiming that he had no choice but to throw the flag:
“After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty,” Farina said in a statement given to Washington officials. “It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call.”
My first instinct is to say that common sense should trump anything else, and if it doesn’t feel right to throw a flag that might change the outcome of the game, don’t throw it. But if that is how the rule is written to be enforced, it needs to be changed now. It’s out of order. Larry Farina, you’re out of order. This whole damned system is out of order!
As the SEATTLE TIMES noted, Locker seemed more confused than sorry in a post-game interview, and rightfully so:
“I guess I’m sorry for celebrating the game of football,” Locker said in a postgame radio interview.
Penalties for taunting, or celebrations designed to “show up” the other team? Fine. But telling a kid who scores a huge touchdown in front of 80,000 people not to get excited? Baloney. Maybe the NCAA can start growing some Pod People in their offices/labs, but until then, they need to understand that the game is played by real kids who are 18-22 (except at BYU, where they are 40 and over) who sometimes get excited.