College Bowl Game Controversies

College Bowl Game Controversies
The inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and Kansas State will be known for reasons other than being played at Yankee Stadium. Kansas State WR Adrian Hilburn scored a possible game-tying touchdown with under two minutes remaining in the game. Great play for K-State. However, Hilburn spontaneously saluted towards the crowd after his touchdown, which lead to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration. I’ve watched the play at least five times and I must say that I completely disagree with the call. To check my perspective, I polled quite a few people and we all came to the same conclusion - this was a terrible call! Hilburn got caught up in the moment. He didn’t taunt another player, no explicatives were spoken; he just saluted.

The officials who made the call were definitely caught up in the moment and took the rule book entirely too literally. They concluded that Hilburn drew attention to himself. I was instantly reminded of the NCAA Rule Book which outlines all the possible penalties for excessive celebration, where many of the rules are attributed to “The U” of the 1980’s and 1990’s. I understand what’s on the books, but, come on...a penalty for a one-second salute? These types of calls are extremely subjective to say the least and are not applied consistently. Further, with the game on the line, the penalty definitely should not have been called. For the most part, game officials do a great job and I am not saying that all officials make terrible calls. We will never know if the excessive celebration penalty, which pushed K-State back 15 yards for the ensuing 2-pt conversion, actually causes the Wildcats to loose the game, but, it’s very likely it was the ultimate reason. I feel bad for Hilburn because he will unnecessarily be connected to this game in a negative way forever.

Star Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor and four other teammates sold memoribilia in return for tattoos, earning each of them a five-game suspension at the beginning of next season. Interesting, because the Buckeyes actually have a bowl game coming up in a few days - the Allstate Sugar Bowl. A reasonable person would think that the suspension would start with the very next game - the Sugar Bowl, but it doesn’t. If these players violated NCAA rules, then why weren’t they punished immediately? Well, it all comes down to money, as usual.

Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan allegedly lobbied Ohio State and asked them to delay the punishment of these five players in order to preserve the integrity of the game. Ohio State buckled and defered to the money. It’s amazing that players get in trouble for taking money and jeopardizing their amatuer status, yet it’s ok for the NCAA, their member schools and corporate sponsors to do whatever possible for the money. How’s that for preserving the integrity of the game.

Again, rules and penalties are applied subjectively, depending upon who you are and/or who you represent. While I’m not completely convinced that these young men should have been suspended for their actions because they chose to partake in a bartering-type transaction that many people and businesses conduct on a daily basis, I truly hope that these young men don’t get caught up in any other questionable activities and keep their integrity in tact, unlike the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Ohio State, and the NCAA.

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