Save Jake Locker

Because FireTyroneWillingham.com was already taken

Last Celebration Post

Posted by JoePa on September 10, 2008

15 yards, right there.

15 yards, right there.

So the sports reporting world was very quick to jump all over the unfortunate events of the last 8 seconds of the BYU-Washington game last weekend.  In case you were living under a rock the past few days, here is how it went down:

Lots of bloggers and journalists have reported on this ad nauseum, so I will try not to repeat much.  Most are either sympathetic to Locker’s emotions, decrying the idiocy of the referees, or merely pointing out the inevitable ending of a game coached by Tyrone Willingham as detailed in my previous post.

It brings me great pains to say that my favorite article on the matter came from ESPN, where Jim Caple wrote much better than I could on the matter.  I won’t get too mad at the refs as I was initially, as I think the referees were put in the unenviable position of being asked to focus on this rule prior to the season, and to the letter of the law, there is no denying that Jake Locker’s actions violated Article 2c in section 9-2 of the rules, which state that “The player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot…” and specifically prohibits “throwing the ball high into the air.”

So my issue is taken up with the rule itself, which I believe will be overturned in the off-season (not to mention not called as literally for the rest of the season).  As Caple points out, there is a huge discrepency in the actions of a jubilant celebration such as Locker’s and any sort of taunting of an oppenent that is truly unsportsmanlike.  However, both result in the same devastating 15 yard penalty.  The rule change, which will be dubbed the “Jake Locker Rule” (I invented that just now), should make for allowances to the referee to make judgement calls whether or not a celebration is excessive and/or unsportsmanlike.  I realize some might feel like this is a slippery slope, but usually it is obvious when a celebration is taunting or choreographed.  A potentially game tying score at home as time almost expires against a top-20 team, when the runner tosses the ball into the air to hug some teammates is obviously not something that the rules should allow to be penalized.

The great irony is that Mike Bellotti, coach of the rival Oregon Ducks, is the chairman of the NCAA Football Rules Committee until next September.  Let’s hope that he and others do the right thing.

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3 Responses to “Last Celebration Post”

  1. JoePa said

    Follow-up: I do not believe that call cost the Huskies the game (slightly contrary to my previous post title of “UW loses to BYU & Pac-10 officials”). I almost never believe that one call and/or play can cost a team the game over the course of 60 minutes. I will say that it made it incredibly more difficult for UW to tie the game and head to over time, but there are so many variable involved before, during, and after the PAT that could have affected the outcome. Yes, the outcome may have ended up differently, but it’s not the sole reason for the Husky loss.

  2. Scott A said

    Its funny-neither the referreeing community, the Pac 10, Ty Willingham nor Jake Locker have complained that the call was made. It’s in the rule book, it was emphasized before the season started, and it was clearly violated by Mr. Locker. The kick was blocked three feet from the kickers foot and was essentially blocked by Jurgenson’s elbow. And this notion that referees shouldn’t decide games is ridiculous-a no-call can decide a game just as much as a call can. I’m still hurting from March when the UCLA basketball team mugged Donald Sloan on a last second shot but it was not called because “referees shouldn’t the outcome of a game”. That’s just a load of horse willies.

  3. JoePa said

    Good points. There’s no denying he broke the rule and it DID NOT cause the loss for the Huskies. And I agree 100% that “referees shouldn’t affect the outcome of a game” with non-calls is a complete load of crap. If something is a foul in the middle of the first quarter, it should also be a foul in the waning moments of the game.

    Unfortunately, it was the correct call, that’s why my only advice would be to change the rule to allow for some limited jubilant celebration with teammates. I think you’d have a hard time finding people who considered Locker’s actions unsportsmanlike.

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