Yes, football season is over but the news never stops! We will get into basketball soon enough but a quick story on a possible rules change in college football. After a season in which refs were already forced to make game-changing judgment decisions on penalties for celebration, in 2011 could have even more significant impact on the outcome of games.
The all-powerful Football Rules Committee has endorsed a proposal that would penalize unsportsmanlike conduct as a live-ball foul. In other words, if you break a 90-yard kickoff return you better not salute the band, student section, or your Aunt Prudence or you get flagged. The biggest thing about this rule change would mean that the penalty would not simply be enforced on the kick-off, it would be marked off from where you taunted and the touchdown would be nullified.
The chair of this committee is former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, who is now the school's athletic director. Bellotti said:
“Our committee firmly believes in the team concept of college football,” said Mike Bellotti, chair of the committee and athletics director at Oregon. “Taunting and prolonged individual acts have no place in our game, and our officials have generally handled these rules well. This is just another step in maintaining our game’s image and reflecting the ideals of the NCAA overall.”
I get the whole believing in the team concept (which has nothing to do with celebrating a score in my opinion) but saying that officials handle these calls "generally well" is a double talk way of saying it is not an exact science. If the rule is enacted these refs will have to make instant in-game decisions on whether a player being happy for getting to the endzone is worthy of taking that 6 points off the board. With the officiating we have had, particularly in the SEC and ACC, we do not want refs to have that power. The Georgia/LSU debacle was bad enough, but not it adds another element that fans really don't care about. Pardon me for dusting off the old "football is played with emotion" line but it is true, these games are hyped up so much by fans, media, and coaches, only taunts and celebrations way out of line need to be penalized. It was not too long ago when NCAA football put forth what was known as "The Miami Rule" to eliminate displays after a touchdown. It snowballed into what we have today where a simple high five, body bump or stare into the thrnong of thousands in the stadium can result in a 15-yard penalty.
The idea sounds great while you are in a NCAA boardroom and you want to put forth the perception that you are promoting good sportsmanship but the bottom line is that what has brought your sport billions and billions of dollars over the years has been the element of showmanship. Asking to keep these displays from being egregious is important but the game is not played without emotion, especially at the highest levels. Even Tim Tebow, the example of the highest level of student-athlete can take it too far once in awhile.
Football taunting rule could be tougher by 2011 [NCAA.org]