Thursday, February 12, 2009

No nonsense or no sense?

Mike Bellotti, who may or may not be Oregon's coach by the start of the season, is suggesting a couple of key changes to the NCAA rules committee.

Bellotti, the NCAA football rules committee chairman, said Wednesday officials should eject more players for flagrant personal fouls, and agreed to seek input on whether some celebration penalties should be live-ball penalties, which could result in losing points.

While the ejections will be a point of emphasis next season, the celebration recommendation is not even a formal proposal yet.

The part about ejections seems fairly obvious. If you purposefully attempt to injure another player, you should be ejected. There's no question about that.

The celebration part, though, ventures into a bit of a gray area.

Bellotti said the change was not likely to take affect for at least two years, and even if approved would likely apply only to players who begin taunting opponents before crossing the goal line. The penalty would be assessed from the spot of the foul, like offensive holding calls in college football. Teams would not be penalized, Bellotti said, for a group celebration after the score because the NCAA wants to emphasize the team concept, not individuals.

I like the elimination of penalties for team celebrations -- if a guy can't celebrate a touchdown with his teammates, how is he supposed to celebrate? College football is still a game played mostly on emotion, and it's ridiculous to think that it can be cut off as soon as the whistle blows.

The other part, though, seems like a typical NCAA proposal: Good in theory, not so good in practice.

In no way do I condone taunting, but there are a whole lot of situations that are borderline in that regard. Pointing at an opponent as you go into the endzone certainly qualifies, and the idea of treating it the same as a typical holding or illegal formation penalty seems reasonable. But what about a backflip or a dive over the goal line? What about high-stepping?

Think of some of the ticky-tack "unsportsmanlike conduct" calls you've seen over the last few years and consider that under Bellotti's proposal, those would have resulted in the reversal of a touchdown.

The idea itself is fine, but if it's instituted, there needs to be a clear definition of what constitutes taunting -- and, most importantly, the officials need to stick with it.

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