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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Locker's Excessive Celebration

Things to keep in mind: Rule 9-2, Article 1(a)(2) "After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot." Jake Locker violated this rule and was accordingly awarded a 15 yard penalty. You might not like the rule, but referees are not Supreme Court Justices, sitting in court to judge a rule's constitutionality. But more to the point, the penalty is not the reason Washington lost.

I repeat, the excessive celebration penalty is not why Washington lost the football game.

The extra point was blocked near the point of contact, so the yardage makes little difference. BYU had three guys in the backfield with a chance to block it. Washington lost the football game because they didn't block on the kick attempt.

He didn't miss the extra point--it was blocked, and blocked by a team that consistently gets a good rush on pressure kicks.

BYU was the better team throughout the game and deserved to win-and probably would have won in overtime. I feel sorry for Locker-he played a great game-but maybe he should spend a little more time with the rule book before their next game.


  1. I agree that UW probably would have lost given the way BYU was moving the ball on offense . . . but I guess we'll never know for sure.

    While referees may not be "Supreme Court justices" we don't need to pretend that they are cyborgs who exercise no discretion. Just look at how often by-the-book excessive celebrations go uncalled. In the very same game, a BYU player bounced the ball between his legs off the turf after a touchdown. Sounds like a spike to me (by the book, a penalty).

    Also, the specific rule that Locker apparently violated was throwing the ball "high" in the air, not failing to leave the ball near the end of the play. The term "high" itself requires the subjective discretion of the referee. Just like a judge, the referees job was to determine whether Locker threw the ball SO high that he violated the spirit and purpose of the rule. Judging by the reaction of most football fans and commentators, he did not.

  2. This call was bad for both UW AND AND AND BYU. A game they likely would have won now seems tainted. A call that hurts BOTH teams can rarely be considered a good one.

  3. Anonymous 1-I don't understand why people have decided that the penalty was for throwing the ball "high" in the air. The official statement on the call was that the referee flagged Locker for throwing the ball--he never specified that the throw was high. I have already noted the rule that Locker violated. That argument is moot. And if we start making calls based on the reactions of the commentators, than we might as well throw the game in with professional wrestling.
    On your other point-Whether or not Austin Collie violated a celebration rule is open for debate (find me the rule that explicitly outlaws what he did), but it was a different rule and not a case of inconsistency. Throwing the ball was a point of emphasis in the preseason, and this point was passed on to coaches and, hopefully, players. Referees were given no room for discretion on this point and any failure to call the penalty is a failure by the referees, just like when the referees missed a handful of painfully obvious holding calls on that last drive. I don't like the rule as it is currently written (though we should remember the old Miami days that prompted the celebration rules before we condemn them), but if you put it in the rulebook it needs to be enforced or the whole system falls to pot.
    Anonymous 2-faulty logic. Calls are not made to benefit one or both teams, and the goodness of a call is not judged on how much teams gain from its being made. I agree that the call probably hurt BYU (although it will blow over in a month and will rarely be remembered), but calls should be made when rules are broken, regardless of the consequences.