Well, the NCAA actually approved a heinous change to the taunting penalty rules that will result in lower scores in ballgames at the whim of an overweight zebra. If you didn't already read my initial reaction to the possibility of this change happening, do so here.
Here's the breakdown: If a player commits a "taunting" penalty IN THE FIELD OF PLAY, it will no longer be considered a dead-ball foul. Under the new rule if a player were to, let's say, point the ball at a defender at the five-yard-line before scoring a touchdown, the touchdown would be denied, and the ball would be spotted at the twenty.
There are a number of scenarios I could run through in showing just WHY this is a terrible rule, but I think the NCAA already KNOWS it's a terrible rule. And that, my friends, is exactly why it shouldn't have been enacted in the first place. Dave Parry, the NCAA's national coordinator of college football officiating (Or, NCCFO as he's probably never called), had this to say about the rule:
"If it's close to diving into the end zone, most likely it would be ruled that the act ended while in the end zone. We'll be lenient. It's really if it's really bad, for example, if a guy flips the bird at the 10 or high-steps backwards into the end zone or starts a forward roll at the 3-yard line."
Well here's my question to Mr. Parry - is that language anywhere in the rule? Is there mention of flipping the bird or doing a forward roll at the 3-yard line? Somehow I doubt it. I'm sorry, perhaps I've just been a fan of football too long and I've watched it slide from a game that is played on the field to one that is played in the minds of referees who can offer up subjective judgment at any time. What you're telling us, basically, is that you're now going to entrust the actual outcomes of games to the officials who can refer to whatever bias they want. I'm fairly certain that "taunting" is not going to be reviewable.
So, as opposed to a receiver catching or not catching a ball for a score, which could be reviewed 1000 times to be sure the right call was made. If a kid has a breakaway 60-yard run for a game-winning score as time runs out, but the official decides that the step he took at the 15 was a little too "high," then the score is negated and his team loses.
I'm fed up with subjective penalties. There's absolutely no room for them. There's no room for subjective law. It's either legal, or illegal, no frikkin gray areas! I want to see the NCAA rules committee strictly outline everything that is ok, and everything that isn't.
Parry himself says that if the flip ends in the endzone, they'll consider it a dead-ball foul because they'll be lenient. But then, he says if you start you forward roll at the three, it'll be punishable. So what are we to take from that? Is it now ok to flip into the endzone provided that you aren't talented enough to do it from nine feet away? Oh, and let's think about three yards. Does Parry realize how fast some of these guys cover three yards? We're talking about tenths of a second here. So, if you're a few tenths of a second early, it's costing you 15 yards, and six points.
Parry also predicted that the call will be made "very rarely." What does this mean? Is the committee going to tell referees, "Hey, there's this new rule that we're very serious about enforcing because we want to be sure these kids aren't hurting each others' feelings. Oh, but don't call it often. Seriously. Call it as rarely as you can."
That's PREPOSTEROUS! Sportsmanship is an area of emphasis. That means this penalty will be called as often as they can possibly call it. It wouldn't surprise me if they call it on a player for taking a knee and pointing to the sky, or if they call it when a kid points to the student's section as he's going in for a score. When the refs are told something is a point of emphasis, they go flag-crazy. If the point of this rule change isn't to call the penalty, but instead to do it only in "extreme cases," then the committee should outline exactly what those extreme cases are IN the rule. Do they do that? No.
Rules of the game should be equal for all players in all situations. There is no room for bias, which can be RAMPANT given this new set of circumstances. You can't possibly expect me to believe that in a big game, if a referee has ANY bias, that he couldn't just call that penalty for the hell of it. He could. Why? There's no review. He gets away with it. Then, in the aftermath, he issues an "apology" and it's all ok. Nevermind the fact that the outcome of the game was changed, that an entire team's season and possibly championship hopes could be gone. It's a bad rule, and shouldn't exist. But, none of us have any power to change it. Instead, we can simply bark and holler and whine about it, and when our team suffers as a result of a bad call of this bad rule, we can say "See, I knew that was a terrible rule from the beginning."
I have a theory that this watering down of football is happening because the people who are running these NCAA committees are the guys who got their heads flushed in toilets by football players in high school. I can't be certain of it, but it wouldn't surprise me.
**** I've read Tony Barnhardt's ideas about the rule, and I agree and disagree with him in part. I do believe that if a rule is going to exist, it should be called consistently. However, I do not agree that this rule should exist at all. This rule and the "exessive celebration" rule are both ridiculous. It's football. This is a violent, barbarian sport. It is often compared (quite foolishly) to war. The men who play this game have to be tough physically AND mentally. If they aren't, they won't often succeed. The way I see it, you can't intentionally hurt someone physically, but if you can put a chink in their psychological armor, that's an advantage for you. When I was playing, that was part of the game - getting in the head of someone you had to play against. It was just part of the game. The other fella had to deal with it. Football is backsliding into civility, and I can't take it.
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