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The PAC-10 and ESPN need to get over it: BYU BEAT Washington

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Last Saturday I witnessed the worst coverage of college football I’ve seen in a long time.  After not finding the BYU-Washington game on my local Versus or The Mountain channels, I checked my TV guide to find that FSN was covering the game as part of their PAC-10 package.  Recognizing that the commentary would likely have a Washington slant to it, I was still amazed at the bias I heard throughout the game.  Constant jabs at the Mountain West and BYU got very annoying.  It came as no surprise then that the blame for Washington’s loss was placed singly on the referee who threw a flag on Jake Locker for unsportsmanlike conduct after a last second touchdown.  What really surprised me was the reporting that followed on ESPN and among the college football world generally.

Immediately after the game, FSN’s postgame coverage had a banner across the bottom of the screen that read “Bad Celebration Call” and had a picture of Jake Locker next to it.  One of the analysts was obviously furious, admitting that he was “steaming” over the call.  I have a better idea for the producers there at FSN.  Why not have your graphics guys draw up and post an image of the extra point being blocked after BYU’s defensive front surged through the line?

I have to admit, I hate celebration penalties just as much as the next college football fan.  I think they should be taken from the game except in extreme cases.  However, I can’t even hear the argument for the pouting that came from Mark May and the other cry babies who somehow saw a different angle as Locker simply “flipped” the ball over his shoulder.  Wow!  I’ve never seen a “flipped” ball get 2.5 seconds of hang time.  Mark May’s and Lou Holtz’s evaluation of what happened can’t be explained any other way than by speculating that they must have nephews on the Husky team.

The reaction to one simple (and correct according to the rules) call leads me to think that somehow BYU wasn’t supposed to win this game.  Leading up to the touchdown, I was already frustrated at an obvious hold (one of BYU’s defensive ends was dragged down from behind while Locker hit a receiver with a 20-yard completion) and the dreamed-up “intentional grounding” interpretation of Locker’s fumble a few plays before.  Even if the officials had gotten the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty wrong, which they didn’t, they obviously kept Washington in the game to make it a close one.

Maybe the experts need to shown the numbers.  BYU had 138 yards more offense than Washington.  Expect for an official signalling a touchback before checking to see who recovered a fumble in the end zone, BYU should have been ahead by two touchdowns in the final seconds of the game.

The outcry over one little (correctly called, I should emphasize again) penalty seems pretty dubious.  What does the press have against the humble Cougs?  Maybe the angst is generated from the awful realization that a team full of mostly white, Eagle Scout, former LDS missionaries could come into Seattle and knock of a PAC-10 team.  I don’t really get all the wrath.  Washington hasn’t been any good in a long time, and it’s not BYU’s nor the officials chore to give them a win just because Ty Willingham’s coaching staff is on the bubble.  Get a load of this statement, reported in a Seattle newspaper by a fellow named Steve Kelley:
    “This is a make-or-break season for this coaching staff, and a call that bad can affect the long-term future of the program.
    I’m sure the guy who made the call had that perspective rolling through his head while he watched to see if and when the “flipped” ball was going to land.  Maybe the Huskies should initiate a lawsuit against the ref and seek punitive damages.  If they had a PAC-10 jury, I’m sure they’d be able to collect something, maybe even overturn the score.

     At least this scandal might take some of the heat off of Sarah Palin.  It seems like maybe the same group of people are behind both investigations.  I’m just interested in hearing what Steve Young has to say…about BYU’s win.