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I’m Terrified of the New Celebration Penalties

by ElvisHog on September 2, 2011

Is anyone else worried about them? In Garrick McGee’s post practice interview the other day, he was asked about it around the 6:20 mark…and whether they have talked to the players about it. He said that they had talked about it quite a bit, especially with Joe Adams since he likes to high step a bit or drag his feet when going into the end zone. He also gave a couple of examples. When Jerico Nelson dove into the end zone after an interception, this year that ball would be brought back out to the 20.

He also said that if Mallett would have thrown a long touchdown pass, say the one to Cobi Hamilton at the end of the first half against LSU, and celebrated too much, it would have been a penalty from the spot of the infraction. So instead of a touchdown, it would have brought the ball all the way back to OUR 10.

Someone’s going to get royally screwed this year.

At least this author is able to find a little humor in it.

No, the reason you will find yourself nearing a nervous breakdown sometime between now and New Year’s is the new rule concerning excessive celebration. It was approved last year but debuts in 2011. Simply put, a player can be flagged for taunting opponents on the way to the end zone, just as always, but hereafter it will be a spot foul if the offense occurs while the ball is live.

Somersault or high-step across the goal beginning at the 2-yard line, in other words, and a 15-yard penalty is assessed. Plus the touchdown is taken away. Plus fans come pouring out of the stands with torches and pitchforks. Plus coaches get doused in Gatorade just to keep them from spontaneously combusting.

We’re talking about taking points off the board because of matters of decorum. Has the pendulum swung too far here on punishment for silly demonstrations of serious joy? Only by about 10 miles.

Wiping out touchdowns just for ticking off some grumpy zebra, why, it’s un-American.

The thing that scares me the most is the subjectivity of it. It doesn’t take an Arkansas fan (or a fan of any other team) to be able to reel off a few games where questionable calls brought them out of their seat. Without expending any energy at all:

So now if a player is excited about scoring a touchdown, a ref is going to be able to call it back based on his opinion of the level of excitement. If you thought the conspiracy theories were bad enough before, get ready for the first time this call happens. Especially if a top 10 ranked team benefits from the call in a close game.

If it happens to us….the server this site is on just might explode. And me too.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

GonzoHog September 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I’ve been worried about this too. If anyone is destined to get screwed royally over this new rule, it’ll be us.
If this happens at Bama, I won’t be suprised at all. Pissed, but not suprised.

Jim Dogg September 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I have coached basketball and played but not coached football. I learned to distrust all refs even those that show up with halos. I just witnessed a somersault penalty the other day and I got angry. My son plays freshman football at Catholic High. In one play against Parkview the Catholic RB ran about 60 yards and he was being closely chased. He was almost caught at the 5 yard line and (you know what’s coming next) he dove and somersaulted into the end zone. Celebration penalty time. Now two things: First, when learning to fall in judo and in any contact sport you learn to tuck and roll, which in part is similar to a somersault. So it my be a legitimate move to prevent a shoulder injury, although to be fair, if not done right, you’ve got a neck injury. Second, if there are opposing players near you should it not be legitimate to get into the end zone the best way you can? The subjectivity of this is horrible. As I said, never trust refs to make an unbiased decision. I have long been been a proponent of reviewing every out of bounds roughing penalty to determine if the player in question being hit is actually out of bounds. If not then he’s fair game. Review is not the only answer since there have been reviews of plays that were clearly wrong in their outcome.** I think that if a player wants to flip himself into the end zone, fine let him. What’s the problem? Is is taunting or exuberance. Two years ago an Arkansas State player catapaulted himself into the end zone after a long run. He was called for a celebration, but at the time the interpretation was celebration in the end zone but not before he got there. Doing it in the end zone, OK, a penalty. The Indians (as they were known then) were penalized on the kickoff, Iowa got great field position, and went down for the winning score. Playing on the Haweyes field and with Big Ten refs, what else would you expect. One can go on and on about unfair calls but why is there less controversey about this in the NFL than in college football? And when is anyone, expecially those sports media guys, going to make a big issue of this “biased” subjectivity.
Now I recognize how difficult it is to officiate but when you have replay? But a major question is why have they put this ruling in? Are the NCAA officials a bunch of ignoramuses who want to give the refs more power in controlling the outcome of the game? My answer is no. My theory is that the NCAA is terrified that bad feelings between players can end up in major violent behavior (not that they can actually hurt anybody, unless you launch a sucker punch at a player who was not wearing his helmut – see Oregon – Boise State. The NCAA should have kicked that player out of competetion. But They did not.) The non-playing violence is a headache for the NCAA and it’s getting worse. Consider the youth league incident in Florida where the players attacked the ref. Bottom line is that the NCAA is very afraid that anything that could incite a rumble needs to be controlled and taking away a TD certainly gets attention. It’s a sign of our times and the kind of athletes playing collegiate sports that such arbitrary and subjective rules have to be put in place.

*Last year I watched the Nebraska-A&M game. I am not a Husker fan and was hoping that the Aggies would win. But the refs were making obvious bad call against Nebraska that I had to assume that it was deliberatly done because Nebraska was leaving the league. Even the announcers were questioning the calls and I’m sure with their experience they knew what was happening but they stopped short of accusation. Interestingly the game was in Lincoln and not College Station.

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