Seattle is a gloomy place this morning. Their saint in purple has been vilified by the almost universally despised Pac-10 officials. All of Husky nation feels cheated. This according to a couple guys I ran into at Starbucks this morning (I made nice after one guy booed me for wearing my Duck sweatshirt).
Let's be clear, I will never cry a tear for the Huskies.
The rule regarding unsportsmanlike conduct is pretty clear, and specifically mentions "throwing the ball high into the air." Get past the Huskie Homer interpretations of Locker's post TD actions. He threw the ball high into the air.
If you only watched the ESPN highlights, you don't get the full effect as to WHY Locker threw the ball high into the air.
Admittedly, I was still watching the Duck game on O-zone, had my TV volume down and was only watching UW's final drive is short glances. But here's how it looked...
BYU scored a TD to take a 28-21 lead with about 3:30 left in the fourth, this after trailing as much as 21-14 in the third. Locker then takes the Huskies 76 yards, overcoming penalties, ridiculously dropped passes by wide open receivers, a sack or maybe two, and a couple great plays by BYU. Locker gets 1st and goal with about 24 seconds, misses on a couple fade routes, then punches it in from a couple yards out on a typical Jake scramble to make it 28-27 with 0:02 on the clock.
Locker has just scored arguably the biggest TD of the Willingham era...the score that potentially helps save a coach's job...the play that lifts the weight one frickin' big monkey off a program's collective shoulders, at least until Oklahoma comes to town. So he celebrates by tossing the ball high over his shoulder and celebrating with his teammates.
He broke the rule and one Pac-10 official felt obligated. The rule sucks.
What I don't understand is why the NCAA cannot do a better job of writing these rules to specifically target showboating, which Locker did not do. There was no posing, no gangsta-style gesturing, not even so much as a glance in the direction of a BYU player. Just a celebration.
Some plays cannot have "judgement" involved - either the receiver caught a pass inbounds or he didn't. When refs fuck that up, we can go to replay. That will never be the case with unsportsmanlike conduct. It is almost impossible for the rule makers to fully remove any amount of official judgement for a penalty that involves player conduct. But it wouldn't be very hard to include language in the rule to give officials better lattitude for their judgement. Was there taunting involved? Did the player interact with opposing players? Did the player interact with people on the sidelines or in the stands? Did the player dance like a little girl? Or my personal favorite, did the player strike a Peter Pan pose, flex his muscles, tug at his jersy and act like a dick?
It can't really be that difficult to distinguish between being an asshole and celebrating a huge play with teammates. Can it?
Like I said, I'll never cry a tear for the Huskies. There's only one group of fans I can say I truly and deeply hate, and I live among them.
The refs used bad judgment. They should have let Locker's enthusiasm go unflagged. Then BYU would have blocked a run-of-the-mill PAT from the 3 yard line and all of us could've had yet another good laugh over how pathetic the Dawgs are. How dare those officials ruin it for the rest of us by giving the Huskies an out.
BTW - Any sense of irony, with more questionable Pac-10 officiating as a precursor to Oklahoma making a return visit to the Northwest?