There are three things I can count on with near-weekly consistency every time I open my in-box on Monday mornings: 1) fans complaining about where their team is ranked, 2) fluffy school press releases, like "Vols Staying Positive Ahead of Key Matchup with Georgia," and 3) fans complaining about the refs.
If there's one thing I've learned from my readers over the years, it's that every close loss in football has been a direct result of incompetent referees who "screwed" them. Case in point: Washington fans were furious this week that officials didn't review Notre Dame's late-game two-point conversion. Many included a link to this
I defy any non-partisan viewer to locate the ball in that mass scrum of bodies.
For all these reasons, I generally gloss over most of your Monday morning officiating gripes. Sorry about that. However, last weekend's LSU-Georgia game provided the latest and, arguably, most egregious example of the one NCAA rule that never fails to drive me bonkers.
Apparently, many of you feel the same way.
Like so many of you, I couldn't believe the call. While I don't think you can claim (as many Georgia fans have) that the celebration flag cost the Dawgs the game (they still had ample opportunities to stop LSU), you'll never find anything "excessive" about Green's celebration, no matter how many times you watch that video. To me, one of the most riveting aspects of college football is the dramatic emotional swings. If you're going to throw a flag at someone simply for expressing perfectly understandable (and non-threatening) emotions, you might as well have these kids play the games in a hermetically sealed vacuum.
That being said, I actually feel bad for the ref in question (whose judgment was
It's been well-chronicled that the NCAA is putting extra emphasis on sportsmanship issues, and with good reason. As we've seen repeatedly, even the slightest gesture or instance of trash-talking can escalate quickly into something more dangerous. Technically speaking, "excessive celebration" is not an actual foul; it's one of about 20 actions listed in the rulebook as "unsportsmanlike conduct" and defined as a "delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player [or players] attempts to focus attention upon himself [or themselves]."
On Tuesday, I spoke with the NCAA's national coordinator of officials,
Parry, like Redding, saw nothing from the replays of Green's celebration that fell into those categories. "Unfortunately in this case, the fellow was a little too strict, and unfortunately it had a huge bearing in the game," he said.
While I commend the rules committee for taking the sportsmanship issues so seriously, I think it needs to revisit the celebration aspect. Certainly, there are clear instances of taunting -- like when a visiting player scores a touchdown, then starts gesturing at the home crowd -- that merit a flag. But when a guy makes a huge go-ahead touchdown catch with a minute left in front of 100,000 screaming people, his teammates mob him and he jumps around a little bit, that's not unsportsmanlike; that's human.
Last Saturday, a ref who's presumably had it beaten into his brain to watch out for the slightest sign of foul play was forced to make a split-second decision as to whether the giddy Green was "calling attention to himself," as the crew claimed in their postgame statement. My response: Who cares? Unless a kid is clearly taunting or showing up an opposing player or team, or tries to put on an overly elaborate show, let him have his fun. That's what this sport is supposed to be.
Obviously, Cal's defense has been exposed as well. They got almost no pressure on either
Good question. I was always a little leery whenever I heard about yet another school following the FSU model, be it Purdue with
Which brings us to the even more dubious decision by Wetherell: putting that $5-million retention guarantee in Fisher's contract when West Virginia came after him in December 2007. Mind you, at the time, Fisher had been on the staff just one season, and an unmemorable one at that (FSU went 7-6). Was it really
Now the school finds itself in an absolute mess where it doesn't want to force out an icon, but kind of has to this year or next, or risk wasting $5 million. In the meantime, as
The other schools I cited have not tied themselves down to nearly this degree. For instance, Texas has set no timetable by which
You will likely see a decline in such arrangements for the time being, in part because there aren't a whole lot of schools out there with aging iconic coaches facing impending retirement (The one obvious exception,
With all due respect to Boise State, TCU is arguably the strongest non-BCS program in the country right now: four 11-win seasons in the past six years, a 12-3 record since 2002 against BCS foes and five NFL draft picks last spring. But the Horned Frogs have repeatedly fallen just short of producing the kind of transcendent season that vaulted Boise State and Utah into the national conscience.
Had the current BCS qualification rules, which went into effect in 2006, been in place just a year earlier, 10-1 TCU would have earned an automatic bid. That team stunned Oklahoma in its opener, then turned around and lost to SMU. And last year, if the Horned Frogs hadn't missed a couple of fourth-quarter field goals, they probably could have knocked off Utah (TCU ended up allowing a last-minute touchdown drive instead) and taken the Utes' spot against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Alas, TCU went to the Poinsettia Bowl.
It will be interesting to see how
There are certainly a lot of people (read:
I know that looks pretty silly right now, with the Tigers sitting at 5-0 and their fan base elated. Even before the season, Chizik did a lot of things to win over the faithful, from hiring
Ask and you shall receive. I caught up with a very busy
Two other notes: When Katy was originally announced as the Crush, former SI.com writer and LSU diehard
Also, since we're still a long way from the next season of
No, they would not. And do you know who the Cavs and Terps must really flummox? Vegas. How do you set lines for these teams' games when, from week to week, you never know whether they're going to come out looking like one of the worst BCS-conference teams in the country or a team capable of beating North Carolina 16-3?
But really, Virginia and Maryland aren't all that different from the rest of their conference. On Sept. 19, Florida State beats BYU 54-28, while Boston College loses 25-7 to Clemson and Maryland loses 32-31 to Middle Tennessee State. Two weeks later, BC beats the 'Noles, and Maryland beats Clemson. Explain that.
I think you're looking at a league where A) most of the teams aren't abundantly talented, and B) aren't all that different from one another, which creates parity/mediocrity. And while Virginia Tech and Miami have looked a step above everyone else so far, I had to roll my eyes at all the e-mails I received this week regarding various BCS scenarios "assuming Virginia Tech and Miami both win out." In the topsy-turvy ACC, I wouldn't count on anybody to string together seven or eight wins in a row.
Indeed, our pal uploaded both
I feel bad if the exposure from my column contributed to the "comments, insults and threats on my life" he mentioned in the first video, but I'm sure it would have reached enemy eyes regardless. And hey, after riling up entire fan bases by spewing mostly mindless commentary in front of a camera, it's probably only a matter of time before he has