The referee in Saturday’s Tennessee-Kentucky game took the unusual step of assessing a personal foul penalty to every single player in the game.
After a kickoff early in the first quarter, players from both sides confronted each other in the center of the field. The officiating crew decided to squash any potential chippiness right then and there—and issued a preemptive warning to both sides. Every player, even those not involved in the tussle, was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Of course, a second personal foul penalty gets a player ejected from the game, so the officiating crew was trying to keep the game from getting out of hand by forcing every player to play with one personal foul hanging over their head.
The strange ruling came back to bit two players not long after. Late in the first half, Kentucky defensive back Davonte Robinson and Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli were ejected after trading shoves because it was technically their second unsportsmanlike conduct foul of the game.
Tennessee defensive back Rashaan Gaulden and Kentucky receiver Tavin Richardson were also ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct after some extracurriculars in the fourth quarter.
As the Lexington Herald-Leader points out, officials pulled the same move in a game last season between Missouri and LSU.