BYU Won, Washington Lost, The Call Was Correct, Get Over It

J. Michael MorrisSenior Analyst ISeptember 6, 2008

Why does the media always over-react to minor controversies?

The big College Football story all over ESPN Saturday was about an excessive celebration penalty against Washington with two seconds left on the clock. BYU, who was ranked No. 15 in the nation, ended up winning the game by one point. 

Mark May and Lou Holtz were practically beside themselves about this official actually calling what was clearly demonstrated, with multiple replays, to be against the letter of the law.

Washington's fantastic QB Jake Locker made a scrambling touchdown run and then threw the ball into the air after the touchdown. The hometown PAC-10 officials flagged him for excessive celebration as the rule is written and moved the PAT attempt back 15 yards where BYU blocked it.

First of all, this call did not decide the game.

It made the unlikely comeback story a little more difficult to write, but that extra point should have been made by Washington to force overtime. 

Even if it was not blocked, it only would have forced overtime, not won the game. Washington would never have gone for two at home against a team that couldn't win non-conference games on the road either, they were doing the right thing, playing for overtime.

How can someone determine that this call, ahead of any other during the game, is the one that decides the outcome? I saw a flag for hitting a player out of bounds in the first quarter against the Cougars that was very questionable. It gave the Huskies a first down midfield instead of fourth and three on about their own 40-yard line. Timing of the call is unimportant.

Nobody wants to win, or lose this way.

Except Wake Forest, who used a questionable pass interference call to win the game against Ole Miss. Their kicker can make a 35-yard field goal and their offensive line can keep it from being blocked. That's why they won the game and why Washington lost.

I, as a fan of good football games, feel a little slighted that there wasn't overtime. It was a close game with great athletes on both sides of the ball—it could have gone on all day if I had my choice.

But, this isn't about me, because I would also like to see more fistfights in hockey, the occasional Icky Shuffle in the end-zone, and multiple streakers with their socks on about twice a quarter.

Finally, it is a stupid rule, so change it.

What can't happen is what all the pundits are suggesting: don't enforce certain rules in certain situations if it might "decide the game".

If college football wants it's officials to lose all credibility and be compared to NBA officials, do exactly that. In the NBA there is always a judgement call about which superstars can and can't travel.

Or at what point of a game it is okay to take a charge. Game seven of a NBA playoff series is played much rougher than mid-season games and the officials allow it.

The fastest way to destroy the legitimacy of a sport is to make it subjective. Think of BCS rankings compared to a playoff, one is subjective, one is not.

If a rule is clearly broken, no matter the relative importance of the situation, it must be enforced. This time BYU came out on top, and if the referees continue to call the game objectively, the law of averages dictates that next time Washington will.


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