It’s time to eliminate the “excessive celebration” rule

 

I understand that I run the risk of being called a “homer” for bringing this up. This blog is based in Atlanta, Ga. The issue I am about to raise is one that negatively impacted the University of Georgia. I attended the University of Georgia. My daughter has two degrees from the University of Georgia.

 

I get all that. But you have to realize that I’m talking about the big picture here and not the winner and loser of one football game. I am raising an issue that I believe strikes at the credibility of a game that we all love.

 

I have been covering college football as a professional journalist for 32 years and, without being too dramatic here, there is a good chance that the excessive celebration call on Georgia’s A.J. Green last Saturday against LSU is the single worst officiating mistake I have seen in my three decades of covering the sport.

 

First of all, the penalty did not have to be called. I was in New York working for CBS on Saturday and because I had access to the technology, I was able to watch the play about a dozen times. Based on what I saw, there is simply nothing there that even sniffs at the word “excessive.” I’ve read the rule. I know what it says. A.J. Green couldn’t raise his arms in the air towards the crowd because too many teammates were hugging him. He looked in the direction of the crowd. He had just made one of the biggest plays of his young career. I think we can understand that a sophomore in college might just be a little excited at that particular moment.

 

After the fact the officials released a statement saying that Green had made a gesture to the crowd that brought attention to himself. If that happened then a press box full of trained observers and a crowd of over 90,000 all missed it. I asked Georgia coach Mark Richt on Sunday if he was aware of anything Green did, perhaps off-camera, that would have warranted the penalty. He said no but he also said that he had not asked Green directly about it. But if nobody saw it but the official on the play, how in the world can it be excessive?

And, for the purposes of this discussion, I’m not going to get into the other two excessive celebration calls other than to say this. The one on LSU’s Charles Scott, which came after he briefly raised his arms to the sky (exactly two seconds because I counted) after the winning touchdown, probably had to be called given the bad call on A.J. Green. And I’ll give the officials the benefit of the doubt on the Orson Charles call, although I thought Charles was trying to get the crowd fired up and not bringing attention to himself.

 

Here is the problem. It is clear that the officials are given very little, if no, discretion on this call. If a player does any gesture other than celebrating directly with his teammates, the officials feel compelled to call it. And if they don’t, they risk reprimand or even suspension.

 

I just feel the rule, which was created with the best of intentions, has morphed into something that is now hurting the game. It is called so inconsistently. Earlier this year a Florida player was flagged after a quarterback sack for simply rolling his hands like a traveling call in basketball. A little while later a Tennessee player sacked the quarterback and did several chest bumps. Nothing was called. In my opinion neither should have been called. The official on the play just tells the young man to cool it and get back to his teammates. No harm, no foul.

 

One of two things has to happen for the good of the game: My suggestion is to eliminate the rule entirely because it has become clear to me that it can’t be enforced on a consistent basis. Excessive celebration is too much in the eye of the beholder. Replace it with a taunting rule. Taunting is more clearly defined than excessive celebration.

 

Until then every supervisor of officials in the country needs to tell his guys: Let’s back off. We need to adjust the sensitivity meter on this thing. Let’s save this penalty for the most egregious violations. That isn’t hard. We know what they are.

 

 When Georgia stormed the field en masse in Jacksonville in 2007, now THAT’s excessive celebration. When a player running to the end zone takes off from the five-yard line and dives in with no defenders around, that’s excessive. When a player throat slashes with his thumb, that’s excessive.

 

When, after a great game like Georgia-LSU, Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson have to admit that the biggest play of the game was a penalty that (in my opinion) didn’t have to be called, then the rules, which are supposed to work to the good of the game, have instead worked to the detriment of the game.

 

Somebody made the argument to me yesterday and we have to put up with a bad excessive celebration call from time to time because the greater good of the game is well served by the rule. I don’t accept that. I think there is a way to keep sportsmanship in the game without totally eliminating the passion of the players, which is something that we all enjoy and, quite frankly, makes the college game much better than the pro game.

You don’t think the Georgia players aren’t going to be negatively impacted by this call for the rest of the season? You don’t think they will curb their enthusiasm because they fear the next flag might be on them? Of course they will. And that’s not right.

It’s time to put some common sense back into the excessive celebration rule.  It if we can’t do that, then it needs to be eliminated.

 

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669 comments Add your comment

Frank Wren

October 5th, 2009
6:23 pm

You know, UGA could’ve kept Trindon Holliday from getting a 40 yard kickoff return shortly thereafter.

they would have if we could have kicked off from the 30. Maybe even a little thing called a touchback. when you kick from the 15 all that is out the window.

Frank Wren

October 5th, 2009
6:25 pm

At least the SEC manned up and admitted they blew it. Time to move on and take care of Tenn.

We are one of the handful of elite programs in the nation. Even if we do stumble a little this year we will still always be one of the top 10 or so programs in the country. Tech can only aspire to that.

Crimson nation

October 5th, 2009
6:26 pm

Also, don’t know if it was you but some of you need to quit with the Tebow bashing and lashing out at other programs like Bama.

Now,about your Bama bashing and your rhetorical question about when has Bama won anything. We at least won our division last year which you haven’t done in 4 years and have done only twice in 17 years of 2 division football. Your sec titles are 2 in 27 years.

And before you won the 02 sec title you hadn’t won a conference title in 20 years. So you had a little success between 2002 and 2005 and now you want to pick that particular point in time to make an argument. Why not pick alltime if you want to live in the past?

Or why not just pick a point from the inception of the sec in 1992.

Or rather than live in the past why not just count the previous year’s results as most people give one year bragging rights and include of course the present year. Of course you don’t like any of these measuring sticks because they don’t suit your particular case or point in time.

Let’s just look at the previous 10 year block since you want to include the Richt era only and 10 years is a nice round number to look at. Soooooo, lets just go back to the last 10 years from 1999 through 2008 to include the Richt era and to have a nice little 10 year block of time.

Georgia has had probably its best 10 year run in history and has 3 division titles in that span including 2 sec titles. Over the same span bama won its division 3 times 99,02,and 08. In 02 we didn’t play in the seccg due to probation but we won the division outright. We have one sec title to show for it vs 2 for UGA. Over this 10 year span it was probably the worst decade in Alabama football history.

Don’t get it yet? Let me help you. The point is that at your best 10 year run in your football history you are barely better than us at our worst 10 year run in our football history. Chew on that one for awhile.

And don’t even get me started on comparing success since the inception of the 2 division format or all time success. Those are arguments you not only cannot win but you will end up looking like a dam fool if you want to get into a comparison.

Crimson nation

October 5th, 2009
6:27 pm

my previous post is directed at you coach smith

GT For You and Me

October 5th, 2009
6:31 pm

Yours Truly: Get a life,swap teams. You will be happier!!!

Old man fan

October 5th, 2009
6:31 pm

Yes Tony’ it was a stupid, silly, call. But come on, its gonna affect the team the rest of the season? If it does, and they can’t overcome that. Then they don’t deserve to win any more games. Comments like that in your article is what makes you look like “my poor little bulldogs” lost another game due to bad calls.Thats just stupid. I’m sure you have seen alot of games over the years, but really I pray this team is better coached than that. “UGA had a bad call in the LSU game back in oct. and it ruined the season for them. R. U. KIDDING ME. GROW UP TB

SEC4Life

October 5th, 2009
6:31 pm

I knew the excessive celebration rule was garbage when it was called on Jake Locker last year and subsequently cost Washington the game. The calls on both Charles Scott and AJ Green were even worse.

I will say this though, p*ss poor tackling on Charles Scott’s game-winning TD run are just as much to blame.

ugafanatic

October 5th, 2009
6:31 pm

FACE IT DAWGS WEVE GOT TWO WINS LEFT, VANDY AND LOUISANA TECH. 5-7 IS NOT A BAD YEAR. ITS TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE AND GET SOME COACHES THAT HAVE SOME FIRE. QUIT BEING LOYAL TO THE COACHES, GET RID OF BOBO, FABRIS AND MARTINEZ. IF NOT GET RID OF RICHT. LAST YEAR THEY ASKED DAVID POLLACK WHAT THE PROLEM WAS AND WITHOUT PAUSING HE SAID COACHING.

The refs did cheat and I can prove it.

October 5th, 2009
6:32 pm

Didn’t you see the refs tripping UGA players as they were trying to tackle Holliday. They did it again when the dogs couldn’t tackle a galloping Charles Scott. I saw one ref sucker punch a dog as he was closing in on Scott to make a 10 yard tackle for a loss in the LSU backfield. The refs helped LSU on the other 70 something yards they covered on their way to a td. Didn’t you guys know that????

Tim Rupert

October 5th, 2009
6:33 pm

TIDE RISING…. The made up celebration did help Holliday on his runback and the refs absolutly did help Scott on the td run, they did not see Rennie Curran get mauled (Tackled) on the scott td run.

Look at the reverse angle of the play and then tell me that the refs did not help. A olman tackles a LB on the biggestplay and it was not called, happens all the time right. The refs missed a face mask bya lsu ol also, two missed calls and a fantom call allin the final five minutes, why would anybody complain about that, happens every game right?

p

October 5th, 2009
6:37 pm

Ref is a GT a-hole, he should be FIRED.

Your Tackle is My Pancake

October 5th, 2009
6:37 pm

@TimRupert

Curran got “told” on that block. Pancaked. Nuff said.

Tim Rupert

October 5th, 2009
6:41 pm

Yes he did, he did get pancaked from behind. If you think a linebacker being tackled from behind is a pancake block, you would probably fit in as a SEC official. The replay shows the truth.

GT For You and Me

October 5th, 2009
6:42 pm

P: Stop whining and go to the bathroom>>>>>this way to the boys room!!

GTfan

October 5th, 2009
6:43 pm

It may have been a bad call, but there is no way it was a worse call than the ACC referee refusing to stop the clock for GT against UNC. There is no subjectivity there. You go out of bounds — the clock stops. You get a first down — the clock stops. Tony, how can you say this unsportsmanlike conduct call was worse than the call from GT/UNC?

GetReal

October 5th, 2009
6:47 pm

I always liked the quote “When you score a touchdown, act like you’ve been there before”.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
6:48 pm

What has UGA done to feel the wrath of the SEC officials? I really hate that the dawgs have been targeted all these years but for the most part they have overcome this blatent effort to push them into the pits of the SEC. I bet Jan Kemp had something to do with this, she put the program back by holding the athletic departments accountable. Maybe the SEC is upset with Pres. Adams not sure what he has done but he11 he is such an a$$ could be him. Or maybe this whole thing is just the whining of the idiot fringe of the UGA nation. The call good or bad happened. You cover the lanes and the return man does not get the yardage and if you stay onside and they don’t get an extra 5 yards. LSU gets the same penalty and you only get an 8 yard return. You did not deserve the win because you were out played and out coached. Get over it and move on to next week. Then when Tenn. whips your a$$ you can blame the SEC officials conspiracy to take down the dawgs.

GT For You and Me

October 5th, 2009
6:51 pm

GetReal: Nice quote,but do you think GA will ever act that way? NADA!

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
6:57 pm

Paper Tiger
Your own team has a idiot fringe of whiners.

not a homer

October 5th, 2009
6:58 pm

Tony you are right…you are a homer…Dawgs take your lumps link your wounds

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
6:59 pm

GT for me and your Mama
I know the Nerds aren’t talking about whiners
after all the Chan Gailey years and having to
beat Georgia vicariously through Florida.

Dawg Days

October 5th, 2009
7:00 pm

Rogers Redding told the Athens Banner-Herald Monday…

“My sense of it is that the official reacted to what he saw, he didn’t make this up,” Redding said after reviewing video. “He reacted to what he saw, but on the other hand the video that we looked at does not support the call that was made on the field.”

My question is how does Roger Redding know the ref didnt make this up? He needs to make the ref accountable, and indicate on the film what he saw A.J. do to draw the flag. Absent that, he made it up, and the next question must be why? for 5-0 FLA/LSU matchup, CBS payola…or Fla celebration retaliation?

coach smith

October 5th, 2009
7:01 pm

Tide Rising

and others saying “The Refs didn’t stop UGA from tackling Holiday” or “LSU got a flaf too”

Do you have no idea of CONTEXT and TIMING of a penalty and how that can affect the MENTAL and PHYSICAL aspect of what happens next

When that flag is thrown, UGA goes from the HIGHEST of HIGHS with everything going their way, to the LOWEST of LOWS realizing that LSU needs only a field goal and that by the time they catch the kickoff, LSU will be in field goal range

It wasn’t just the flag, it was WHEN it was thrown and WHAT the timing can do to the emotion of the game

Because of WHEN it was thrown, it critical and it was a back breaker

By the time UGA got the ball back, the air was out of the balloon. You were basically asking UGA to make a mirical comeback TWICE in a minute or two after they had earned the victory on the field and had the opportunity to defend that victory taken from them

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:02 pm

Hey 518, no penalty AJ and there is a rekick because the dawgs were offside. I forgot the SEC has it in for the dawgs. GET OVER IT.

coach smith

October 5th, 2009
7:03 pm

GTfan

please! That was a call at the end of the FIRST HALF in a game you were up 10-0

There was time to overcome it.

What makes this call 1000x’s worse is WHEN it was thrown

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:06 pm

Coach smith, that is BS and you know it. A good football team does not lay down when there is adversity. They turn that adversity around to a positive. I hope the coach in your name is a metaphore and not an occupation.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:07 pm

Coach, sing your logic LSU should have laid down and let the dawgs score after they were penalized.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:09 pm

Sorry coach, that should be with

GT For You and Me

October 5th, 2009
7:09 pm

Mike T.: I hear your coach call! He want’s you to bring him the rest of Chan Gailey’s playbook. He didn’t like the first 3 years of plays in the book. He want’s you to bring him the last 2 years. He thinks that might help,since nothing else is working. Now run along!

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:14 pm

Mike T, all teams have the idiot fringe. Dawg Days, if what you are saying is true then the SEC is not the elite conference that is being published. If what yhou say is true then the NCAA should shut down the SEC immediately because my friend that is cheating.

coach smith

October 5th, 2009
7:15 pm

Paper Tiger

Georgia DIDN’T lay down, they fought the WHOLE GAME, took the lead in the 4th quarter, saw LSU re-claim the lead with under 3 minutes to go and answered the bell by driving down field (not a cheaply given short field but 75+ yards) and score what should’ve been a winning TD

The PLAYERS on both side made plays to decide those events BUT THEN a REF (admittedly now by the SEC) takes it upon himself to call a flag on something that didn’t happen

There has to be a defeated sense of “What in the hell do we have to do? We earned it fair and square and now some ref is going to screw us”

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:15 pm

He’s not saying they laid down, they were rattled,
ever played sports? IT HAPPENS!Should they pulled their
self together? Yes. If there had been any time left on the clock.Remember last year when FL blocked those two
punts, Kentucky was rattled.It happens, even to the bunch
you pull for.

jumbeauxtiger

October 5th, 2009
7:20 pm

This is unbelievable. I thought you guys whined alot when we leapfrogged you into the NC game 2 years ago but this takes the cake.

You better worry about Tennessee. Lane is gonna have his players believing they can beat you.

You need to face reality that this is a rebuilding year for the Dawgs. 9-3 would be a good year for you considering you lost 2 stud players.

Geaux Tigers!
Go SEC!

T

October 5th, 2009
7:25 pm

This should be called The Sore Loser Blog ….

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:25 pm

One thing Mark Richt don’t need is anything from Chan Gailey.Get ready to say by by to Johnson, Notre Dame beckons.

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:31 pm

jumbeauxtiger

Hey who pulled your chain, A few turn of events and your
bunch would be crying Cajun French all the way to the NCAA. Us worry about Tennnessee? ya’ll better worry about
how bad Florida gonna whip ya’ll with or without Tebow.
Ya’ll ain’t gotta face em alone. we hope ya’ll score on
them.

GT For You and Me

October 5th, 2009
7:32 pm

Mike T.I like your compliment to our coach! A lot of teams would like to have him,including UGA!

D.Ellis

October 5th, 2009
7:37 pm

Actaully the biggest play of the game was one that didn’t happen.

If Joe Cox hits AJ Green in stride in the second series of the game he goes for a 95 yard TD and the LSU score is the tieing and not the winning score. That turned out to be the biggest “non” play of the game

Did the penalty affect the game. You bet it did. With 2 timeouts and the ball at the UGA 40 something they could run it and run down the clock and kick the game winner.

Kicking off from normal distance….barring the same return…….means that LSU now must throw ball to get in range at some point in the drive. Could LSU have done it in the air? Sure why not. But UGA also had 6 sacks on the day and was putting a very good amount of pressure on Jefferson all day…who by the way Jefferson played a very good game in my opinion. But UGA with 6 sacks on Jefferson stood a better chance attacking a young LSU line with Kade Westin who was dominating the young LSU true fresh guard. ( Notice the great run by Jefferson was from right to left avoiding the pressure from the left side of UGA line that was killing LSU right part of line)

Bottom line is LSU is a very good team that is going to give UF all they can handle. Congrats to LSU and their fans for a tough hard fought SEC road victory. IT was a great game to watch and LSU deserved the W every bit.

DAWGS and DAWG fans. We have a HUGE HUGE game to get ready for in KNoxville. Get behind your team. UGA still controls their own destiny so let’s take care of this week. Last week was last week and it;s over with. Let the other teams fans have their fun. IF we sucked they wouldn’t care.

UT is a wounded team looking for their first SEC victory and they are at home. What better way then to upend a UGA team fresh off a last second defeat. Get ready for another fight DAWGS

GOOOOOO DAWGS

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 5th, 2009
7:38 pm

worst call in 32 years?

yeah, no bias from Tony.

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:38 pm

Well I’am ex Navy, I liked him when he was at Annapolis.
He’ll be a good Catholic.Let’s hope he don’t lie like O’Leary did. You know you actually have to fill out a job
application at Notre Dame.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:40 pm

Notre Dame and Johnson, now that is a joke. First I don’t think he would go and second ND is not looking for a coach. You guys cannot bring the facts so you start throwing stones at other programs. You live in the past because you are concerned about the future. Look at the now and to the future…sorry, that is not very exciting today is it.

Lew

October 5th, 2009
7:43 pm

If they must have a celebration penalty, why not penalize the player by kicking him out of the game, with no penalty to the team (other than the loss of his services). I think this penalty would cause more player to consider the consequences before trying to light up the crowd, but it also won’t change the potential outcome of the game!

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:44 pm

Bottom line is LSU is a very good team that is going to give UF all they can handle.

Red China could have a team, coached by Bin Laden and play Florida and I’d pull for the Chinese, but I’ll tell
you right now, Florida is gonna rip LSU a new one right in the own back yard.It’s gonna be bad and ugly and they
might ought not let women or children in the stadium.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:48 pm

D.Ellis, I am not sure the rest of the dawg fans saw that play. I know my heart sunk when Cox released the ball but an over throw made me feel pretty good. Let’s talk about tha kick off after the penalty. If he kicks from the 30 and there is not return…UGA will have to kick again from the 25 because they were offside on the kick off. We defeatd you, bad calls happen…we kicked off from the 15 and you only gained 8 yards because you failed to block a man running down the hash marks. I will not apologize for the victory and for your fans to think the SEC is out to get the dawgs or they wanted to insure a strong match between fla and lsu next weeks is totally stupid.

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:49 pm

ND is not looking for a coach
well they keep going to overtime to beat teams with losing records and it won’t be long.

so you start throwing stones at other programs.
Isn’t that your purpose for being on this blog?
Alot of ya having taken your time and probably
gone out of your way to throw stomes at UGA.

D-one

October 5th, 2009
7:49 pm

Man. we should have celebrations after ever play. What we should be doing is having compitition to see who can do the biggest celebration. Don’t even need a football. Why even have a game with officials? Let the fans give it up for the best celebrater..

GT For You and Me

October 5th, 2009
7:50 pm

Paul Johnson as head coach and Richt as offensive coordinator. A match made in heaven, for you UGA fans.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:57 pm

Mike T., I have not thrown stones at any program. This was a blog about gettin rid of a rule that happened to upset the dawg nation. Hey, my team won and I am happy. My disappointment is the way the dawy fans on this blog take that call and come up with a conspiracy against uga. Uga always is upset with Tech but I think that now it is a little worse because of PJ. He is turning that program around. Yes we beat them down in the bowl but we were angry and they were still on the 45-42 high. They make a lot of mistakes but still moved the ball well. I have found it hard to have an intellegent conversation with a dawg fan because they think they were cheated and shoud have won the game. Tough.

Mike T.

October 5th, 2009
7:57 pm

Paul Johnson as head coach and Richt as offensive coordinator. A match made in heaven, for you UGA fans.

Maybe Jim Donnan as HC and recall Chan Gailey as OC for
you Nerds when PJ bolts for South Bend.

Paper Tiger

October 5th, 2009
7:58 pm

Sorry for all the typos but I am on my laptop and I hate this keyboard.