Pinstripe salute prompts reevaluation of excessive celebration rule

10 Jul

The Topeka Capitol-Journal reported Saturday that one topic of discussion at a recent Big 12 officiating clinic was that of Kansas State football player Adrian Hilburn’s late-game salute to fans in 2010 Pinstripe Bowl. As Wildcat fans – many whose blood will boil at the mere memory of this incident – will recall,
Hilburn scored a touchdown with about two minutes to play against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium. The play brought the score to 36-34, but a penalty for excessive celebration pushed the Wildcats back to the 18-yard line to attempt a two-point conversion. Not surprisingly, the game ended with that same score.

It would be ignorant to say this one call by officials cost Kansas State the game because – as in any game – there are always opportunities, of which teams are responsible for taking advantage. However, deeming a spur-of-the-moment salute an excessive celebration certainly had an irreparable impact on the Wildcats’ efforts in the waning minutes of the bowl game.

As a result, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has reviewed the excessive celebration rule. Now, the idea is that referees should only penalize celebrations that appear to be prolonged or premeditated. Under this umbrella, Hilburn’s salute would not have qualified. Of course, it doesn’t matter for the Wildcats now, but hopefully this common sense application of the rule will prevent future mishaps.

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