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September 9, 2008
Saturday afternoon, I saw one of the worst calls I ever have seen in college football. An official threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct with two seconds left on a quarterback who had just scored a touchdown. After assessing a 15-yard penalty, a 35-yard PAT attempt was blocked, giving BYU a 28-27 victory over Washington .
It was a horrible call.
I'm not just making a knee-jerk reaction to a 15-second video clip I saw on TV, either. I was there broadcasting the game for Westwood One Radio (audio clip).
After Washington quarterback Jake Locker dove across the goal line, he got up off the ground and in one quick, excited instant, tossed the ball over his shoulder. He did not do one thing that could have been construed as unsportsmanlike conduct.
"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," Pac-10 referee Larry Farina said. "It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It is not a judgment call."
That's a bunch of baloney.
Officials make judgment calls all the time. If they didn't, we would have holding penalties on every single snap.
There was no unsportsmanlike conduct by either of the teams the entire game. There was no trash talk, finger-pointing or post-tackle celebrations. In fact, the only unsportsmanlike conduct I saw all day was from the official who threw that last flag.
SKIP HOLTZ IS MOVING UP IN THE POLLS
After pulling the biggest upset of the opening weekend, against Virginia Tech, the Pirates followed it up Saturday with an even bigger upset against West Virginia. With the element of surprise removed, it takes an incredible effort to upset two highly ranked teams in a row.
Now, with the rest of the schedule looking less formidable than what they already have faced, the Pirates will have a target squarely on their back.
And look for an even bigger target on Holtz's back at the end of the season as other schools come looking for someone to turn around their program.
FROM YEAR 1 TO YEAR 2
But it was the Hurricanes who made the biggest impression on me. No team I have seen this season looks to have made more improvement from last season than Miami.
UM gave the Gators all they could handle for three quarters. The 'Canes showed a level of talent, speed and effort that more closely resembled the championship teams of old than the one that I saw at the end of last season. Miami still must find a way to get more big plays out of its running backs and wide receivers, but if you ask me, the 'Canes are a lot closer to being back than a lot of people think.
USF IS THE REAL LOSER
South Florida outlasted UCF 31-24 in overtime to win the final game between these up-and-coming programs. But because of its refusal to schedule UCF in the future, the biggest loser in this short-lived rivalry is USF. Although these public universities sit little more than 100 miles apart in Tampa and Orlando, USF does not feel it serves its purposes to continue the series and has vowed not to play UCF anymore.
Maybe it's time to get the Florida legislature involved to make sure that everybody understands that these universities and their football teams serve the people of the state, and those people are better-served when these two teams play football. In the 1950s, it took the political leaders of the state to force Florida to play Florida State, and it might be time for those boys to get involved again.
Terry Bowden is Rivals.com college football analyst. For more information about Terry, visit his official web site. Click here to view previous articles. You can also send Terry a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.