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NCAA Needs to Change Celebration Rule that Burned Jake Locker and Washington

One of the biggest controversies on Saturday was the way the Washington/BYU game finished up. With the Huskies down 28-21, Jake Locker scored on an awesome scramble where he eluded several defenders. Elated to have scored on the last play of the game, Locker tossed the ball up behind him after getting into the endzone. Locker wasn’t showboating nor showing up his opponents; he was uber-excited and semi-celebrating. Still, the NCAA rules say you must throw a flag for excessive celebration if a player tosses the ball up in the air after scoring a touchdown. Locker’s antics pushed the point after touchdown attempt back 15 yards, making it a 35-yarder. BYU blocked the extra point and won the game, 28-27. I usually jump on players for celebrating touchdowns, so I understand flagging guys for misconduct. But if Jake Locker’s costing his team 15 yards for what he did after his score on Saturday, then the rule needs to be tweaked. Here’s what the referee who made the call said:

“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,” Pac-10 referee Larry Farina told the Washington athletic communications staffer. “It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call.”

Well, there needs to be some sort of looser interpretation of this rule, where it becomes a judgment call to decide if someone was really celebrating excessively, or merely elated by the exciting moment. I won’t go so far as to blame the referee for ruining Washington’s season or costing Tyrone Willingham his job — the Huskies had 59 minutes to win the game — but they did get screwed by the penalty at the end. Still, how hard is it to hold your blocks for a half second on a field goal?? And in case you haven’t seen the sequence, check out the video from the game to judge for yourself:

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Urban Meyer Covers the Spread, Angers Randy Shannon in the Process

Many people could have been wondering what Urban Meyer was doing when he elected to kick a field goal with 25 seconds left and his Gators already up 23-3 against Miami Saturday night. Those people probably missed the bottom line: Urban Meyer was ensuring Florida would cover the spread (generally somewhere between 21-23 points in any given online sportsbook). With the only plausible argument being that he was “trying to get his kicker some work,” it was pretty obvious that Meyer was trying to please his boosters and alums who entrust thousands of dollars in the Gator program when they bet on football games. While I understood what Meyer was doing, Miami coach Randy Shannon wasn’t too pleased with the perceived act of poor sportsmanship:

Shannon didn’t mention Florida coach Urban Meyer’s name, but implied that Meyer’s decision to kick a field goal in the final seconds fired up some UM recruits who called him after the game.

“Sometimes when you do things and people see what kind of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off,” Shannon said Sunday. “Take from that what you want. It helped us more than you will ever know.”

As a Hurricanes fan (yes, prior to attending UCLA, I had a favorite college football team), I was quite pleased with Miami’s performance in the game. Sure, the final score doesn’t look pretty, but it doesn’t tell the whole story; it was a six-point game through three quarters, 9-3, and Miami’s defense looked stingy. If the offense were able to move the ball in the least bit, the Canes would have had a stronger chance. I’ll tell you, there was a lot more to be encouraged about with Miami’s performance in the game, as opposed to Florida’s. Just another example of Florida’s new legacy under Meyer, I suppose.

UPDATE: Tim Tebow chimes in to defend Urban Meyer

Nick Saban Is Tommy Bowden’s Shoulder to Cry on After Loss

I’m a little new to this whole thing, but I guess in the college football world, it’s cool for coaches to converse with each other and share ideas. How often do we hear about coaches opening up their practices to other coaches who want to come by and learn? Wasn’t half the coaching world in Morgantown the last few years to adopt Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense? Apparently it doesn’t end with sharing strategies — calling coaches that just whooped your ass in a game is cool now too — if you ask Tommy Bowden. After Bowden’s Clemson Tigers got rolled by Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide 34-10 on Saturday, Bowden called over to Saban for advice:

“As I talked to coach Saban, I said, ‘I’m not one to have enough pride where I’ve got all the answers. I see you got six months to study me, a guy like you, what did you see?” Bowden said Tuesday.

Saban wasn’t the only high-profile coach Bowden called on this week. He said he also spoke with his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden; Georgia coach Mark Richt and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer about how the Tigers would recover from the beatdown at the Georgia Dome.

As my buddy Arnie Spanier pointed out, why the heck was he calling Frank Beamer? Don’t you think Beamer has his own problems to worry about, you know — like being upset by East Carolina? Where’s the compassion, Tommy? By the way, it’s just a shame that I don’t do Doc Brown’s picks for college games — Bama over Clemson would have been a lock for me; Clemson always gets tons of hype and fails in big games every single year. As for Saban? He may be a prick, but he’s a darn good coach. That’s just a mis-match right there.

The Road to 4 Wins Off to a Fast Start

I wouldn’t exactly say this was the same thing as the Saints beating the Falcons in their Monday night opener after Katrina a few years ago, but the energy and thought of something “new” made the UCLA win over Tennessee pretty sweet Monday night. It was a new coaching regime, a big-time SEC team coming across the country, on Labor Day for a national audience in prime time, and UCLA had just declared that USC’s supremacy in the city was over. That’s a lot of hype, build up, pressure, and anticipation all built up into one game, and perhaps why UCLA had to win the opener.

Seeing three starters go down early and four interceptions by Kevin Craft in the first half was hideous. Tennessee didn’t capitalize on the mistakes and got burned in the second half. If there’s anything we learned from Monday’s game, it’s that:

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Skydivers Land at Duke Football Game Instead of North Carolina Tar Heels’

I guess when you’re 15,000 feet away, football fields can look pretty similar. Will Brinson at FanHouse brings us the video of a pre-game stunt gone wrong. The man in the video was supposed to be skydiving into the stadium at Chapel Hill, not Raleigh Durham for Duke’s game.

Yes, the writing on the scoreboard does read: Duke Blue Devils. What’s a matter, skydiver man? Couldn’t read the print from where you were? That guy should be ashamed of himself. I guess the ultimate lesson to be learned here is: don’t build colleges close to each other.

UCLA Football Getting Premature in its Self Promotion

There’s that saying out there — you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. With that in mind, I present the latest advertisement by the UCLA Athletic Department that appeared in the LA Times on Monday, as passed along by Gutty Little Bruins.

I really do appreciate the enthusiasm by the athletic department, but I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying the ad is a bit premature. Why not wait until the team’s record speaks for itself? How’s that ad going to look when the team goes 5-7? I’d be laughing right now if I were a USC fan. Sure, the monopoly might be over in a year or two, but give it time. Isn’t it worse to hype up expectations and let the fans down rather than ramp up the marketing after the team’s shown signs of success? I’m much more comfortable with the patient approach.

Oklahoma Freshman Josh Jarboe Kicked Off Team for Rap Video

Once again we have encountered the line that falls between athletes’ personal and public lives. Earlier this year, Wake Forest kicked running back Luke Caparelli off the team for some comments he wrote on his Facebook profile. Even Shaq had his police badges stripped for a distasteful rap where he slammed Kobe Bryant. Now it’s Oklahoma freshman wide receiver Josh Jarboe who has suffered the consequences of his off-field antics, getting kicked off the team for a distasteful rap video he created.

This is not the first incident for Jarboe — he was arrested in the spring for bringing a stolen gun to his high school. Jarboe’s charges were reduced to misdemeanors since he was a first-time offender, which allowed his scholarship to stand. Though Bob Stoops initially indicated Jarboe would remain on the team despite the video, he changed his mind. I defend Bob Stoops in this instance. Between the two incidents, Jarboe has displayed questionable character — might as well nip the issue in the butt before it gets worse. Don’t forget, this is the same coach who kicked his starting quarterback and offensive lineman off his team for misconduct, so he is equal opportunity. As for Jarboe and all athletes, you have the freedom of speech, but you don’t have the freedom of consequence. Probably wasn’t worth it, was it, Jarboe?

And in case you couldn’t listen to the video, here are some of the lyrics he spits:

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