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The Latest Media Manufactured Controversy

Apparently Washington was robbed versus BYU.

If you caught any series of college football highlights yesterday you saw the end of the BYU-Washington game in which Washington scored a TD with two seconds left but was then forced to kick the extra point from 35 yards due to QB Jake Locker being flagged for excessive celebration.  Locker, after running into the end zone exuberantly threw the ball straight up into the air which is prohibited.  The refs threw the flag and backed the Huskies up to the 17.  BYU was able to block the PAT and win the game setting off a media wringing of hands over the call.

The general sense out there is the refs blew the call.  Lou Holtz and Mark May on ESPN along with other commentators argued Locker was not doing something unsportsmanlike but merely caught up in the moment and should not have been flagged.  In fact May went as far as to flat out lie about the nature of Locker tossing the ball into the air saying he merely flipped it over his shoulder. This was not the case and the officials, using the standard set forth in the rulebook, properly applied the rule.  The Wizard of Odds, who has video of the incident, says it was the right call but the rule takes the fun out of the game and should be changed.  I think they should apply these things on the kickoff.  That debate is for another time however.

The main issue for me here is the media's penchant for demanding nuance in officiating during end of game situations.  For example if this had happened in the 1st quarter I doubt as much would have been made of it even if final score ended up being the same.  Because this happened on the final play of the game and the call set up a long PAT which was blocked, it is asserted the referees were not being fair.  Now if there is one consistent position I maintain here at THF it is that referees do not cost teams games, players failing to make plays do.  This is no different.  Washington should have made the PAT anyway or made some other play earlier in the game to give themselves a better chance to win.  The controversy also seems to miss the fact that even with the PAT the game is still heading to OT where who knows what might have happened.  This does not stop the media from getting their panties in a wad over what is the proper enforcement of the rule in hand.  You can certain argue, as The Wiz does, the rule is bad and should be changed.  However, the idea that officials on the field should make conscience efforts to bend the rule because of the situation is laughable. And beyond that, one commentator implied that the call might end up costing Ty Willingham his job at Washington which again is not the concern of the referee nor should it be.

The whole thing reminds me of Billy Packer's assertion in the NCAA Championship game between Memphis and Kansas that the officials did a "great job" not dropping a technical foul on a Memphis player for slamming the basketball to the floor and having it bounce over his head late in the game.  Packer's belief was the referee should exercise judgment during end of game situations as to avoid the referees deciding the game.  A similar logic is at work here in the media's outrage and it is comical that people say the refs should not decide the game when clear violations occur.  In the eyes of the exalted experts, the referee is required to substitute his judgment for the rulebook when any rule is broken during the waning moments of a close game.   Nice to know.  Perhaps we should always make this the case so we can have even more inconsistent officiating than we are getting right now.  That should work well.

Jake Locker made a mistake and in his exuberance he did something the rule forbids.  It is no different than a player jumping offsides or in the heat of the moment pusing an opposing player.  The fact it happened at the end of the game does not mean it should be enforced less than at the beginning.  Exit question:  The assertion is that a referee making a call like this is "deciding the game" instead of the players so if he chooses to exercise judgement in place of the rulebook isn't he doing the same thing?