You should want to slap Larry Farina and his Pac-10 officiating crew. They're those annoying hall monitors who narced on you in middle school. They're every cop who stopped you for going four miles over the speed limit.
You should want to smack the Pac-10 itself, which can't get out of its own way when it comes to making the right call.
|Dodd's Power Poll|
|4. Ohio State|
|13. East Carolina|
|15. Texas Tech|
|16. Arizona State|
|19. Wake Forest|
|20. Penn State|
|21. South Florida|
|22. West Virginia|
|23. Michigan State|
|25. (tie) Illinois|
By the letter of the law, though, they were all right on Saturday. By the letter of the law, Jake Locker was wrong. Washington's exuberant quarterback flipped the ball in the air after scoring with two seconds left Saturday against BYU.
The NCAA rule book states any player who scores is prohibited from: " ... throwing the ball high into the air."
By now you know what happened next if you've tuned it to even a couple of seconds of the vitriol that has followed. Down 28-27 after Locker's touchdown, Washington was penalized 15 yards and BYU blocked Ryan Perkin's 35-yard, game-tying extra-point attempt. Ballgame. The Cougars stayed alive for a BCS bowl berth. Ty Willingham continued down a slippery slope toward possible unemployment, in part because of Rule 9.2 (c).
"It was not a judgment call," Farina, the game's referee, said in a statement.
Except that it was definitely a judgment call. Half of football is judgment calls. Not a judgment call? Define "high". Not a judgment call? Why, then, is almost a third of the NCAA rule book taken up with a section called "Interpretations." With the game, two seasons and a job in the balance, the officials shouldn't decide the outcome.
Here's how to correctly assess the moment: Ask yourself if anyone on either side would have said a word if line judge Steven Kovac kept the flag in his pocket.
This is not pity party for Washington. Willingham deserves noogies, too. He should have known and communicated to his team that the NCAA made unsportsmanlike conduct a point of emphasis this season. The NCAA sent out a video in the offseason to drive home the point.
If you thought Saturday was a travesty, things could get worse this season around the country. Keeping watching. Any act other than handing the ball to an official after a score will be scrutinized. Officials can toss flags and be backed up by the black and white in the rule book.
|BYU benefits from the excessive celebration penalty on Washington. (Getty Images)|
After the confusion over the flag, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall calmly surveyed his coaches and decided to go for the block.
It will be up to Emmert. Did Willingham get outcoached?
"I asked (assistant coach) Paul Tidwell if there was any chance they would have the nerve to fake it and he said, 'There's always a chance.'" Mendenhall said. "So I said, 'All out rush.' And the players nodded like they believed they could block it. They were smiling."
No one seems to be innocent here. Judgment call? Washington fans no doubt will remember that the Pac-10 made a judgment call last season when it didn't consider Farina and his crew for postseason assignments. That was the crew's penalty after Oregon State beat Washington 29-23 in a game that was marred by six personal fouls, ejections and a botched replay. The replay crew was suspended after that game. At the time commissioner Tom Hansen called the replay errors "egregious."
Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, from Oklahoma which is coming back into the Pac-10 this week for the first time since the mother of all officiating snafus two years ago at Oregon.
A Pac-10 spokesman said Sunday he thought that the entire Farina crew that worked the Washington-BYU game on Saturday was the same one that worked Washington-Oregon State last season.
"The referee was the same so I assume the rest of the crew was the same," the Pac-10's Jim Muldoon said.
Judgment call? Oregon State coach Mike Riley made a judgment call after the 2005 season when he reportedly "rested" Farina from doing Beavers games. Between seasons Pac-10 coaches are given the option of barring particular officials from working their games. Muldoon could not confirm that Farina was rested from Oregon State games in 2006 saying about the practice, "It rarely happens (though) it's possible."
After last season's Washington game, Riley told the Portland Tribune that he never received the proper form prior to the 2007 season then forgot about it. Farina then worked the Oregon State game.
Judgment call? It was a judgment call for Dave Cutaia in 2006 at Oregon. Cutaia was the referee in that infamous Oklahoma-Oregon debacle that ended two years ago with OU officials considering whether they would return to Washington on Saturday. Amazingly, Cutaia was allowed to work the next week in a game involving Stoops' brother, Arizona coach Mike Stoops.
Oklahoma will show up at Washington this week in an ironic confluence. Jobbed '06 vs. Jobbed '08. Cutaia? Stoops will be glad to know he is now the Pac-10 coordinator of officiating. Someone had to make a judgment call there, too. The former supervisor Verle Sorgen was quietly kicked upstairs after 2006. Moved to Pac-10 director of instant replay, Sorgen didn't placate any Beavers after the Washington game last year when he said, "It wasn't that egregious unless you're an Oregon State fan."
Don't expect the Pac-10 to say a word about what happened Saturday at Husky Stadium. There will no suspensions or reprimands. By the letter of the law, their official made the right and proper call. There's no gray area. It's all black and white.
But even black and white has shades of gray. Ask Cutaia. He was a Pac-10 official for 24 years, a former police chief for eight years and has spent 31 years in law enforcement.
In the parlance of Cutaia's profession, Locker got caught going four miles over the speed limit.
Did he deserve a ticket?