The situation: Washington's stud QB Jake Locker had just run in for a touchdown with two seconds left to bring the Huskies to within 28-27. Locker got up in the end zone, flipped the ball up the air in celebration and chest bumped a teammate (see beginning of the celebration here). The rest of the offense piled on in jubilation. It's the kind of celebration you see on virtually every score in college football and there was nothing showboating or offensive about it.
But the ref (from the Pac-10) threw a flag for "excessive celebration," setting the Huskies back 15 yards for the point after. The gimme kick from the 20-yard line became a longer attempt from the 35; it was blocked and BYU held on.
It was an abysmal, undefensible call yet the head ref did defend it:
"After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty," Larry Farina said in a statement given to Washington officials. "It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call."
Following the rule certainly didn't make it easier for the Huskies to accept.
"It's one that they almost have to call," coach Tyrone Willingham said. "It really should be a no-call, but it's one they have to call when they see it."
I'm sorry, but that's BS and spin by the ref. Keep the flag in your pocket and let the players decide the ending. The penalty is supposed to be for "prolonged and excessive" celebration and covers a player throwing the ball high in the air; Locker did neither. ESPN rightly slammed the call during its college football coverage and if there is justice, this ref will be suspended for a game for an appalling lack of judgment.