Bad judgment in Pac-10; Pirates raid Top 25 Print
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Sunday, 07 September 2008 10:55
NCAAF Headline News

 The Pirates raid another Top 25 team. JoePa rallies his troops, or at least what's left of them. Arkansas State goes Kobe on Texas Southern.
Week 2 of the college football season - aka the week before Ohio State plays Southern California - is in the books. Without getting too excited, and risk being flagged by some Pac-10 official, let's review:
The Big Story
Every call is a judgment call.
So don't believe Pac-10 referee Larry Farina when he says that he had no choice but to flag Washington quarterback Jake Locker for unsportsmanlike conduct after the quarterback spontaneously tossed the ball away while celebrating a potential game-tying touchdown against BYU on Saturday. The penalty pushed the extra-point attempt back to 35 yards and the Cougars blocked it to preserve a 28-27 victory.
``It is a celebration rule that we are required to call,'' Farina said after the game. ``It was not a judgment call.''
Sorry, that doesn't work. Just ask David Parry, national coordinator national coordinator for college football officiating.
While Parry was in no way critical of the call or the official who made it - there's no doubt Locker broke the rule - Parry said Sunday that all calls are judgment calls.
``I think what he meant is this was so obviously against the rule and flagrant you have no option but to throw a flag,'' Parry said in a phone interview.
The rules covering sportsmanship and impermissible celebrations were emphasized before this season to college football officials. A video was sent out ``stressing major points,'' Parry said.
But even Parry conceded, ``I think it's safe to say on emotional moments officials might become a little more lenient.''
Bottom line: terrible call.
The idea behind the celebration rules are to keep players from upstaging or demeaning an opponent. Locker's actions did neither.
The Huskies got a raw deal, but let's interrupt the pity party being thrown for Tyrone Willingham's team for a moment to remind everyone that kicker Ryan Perkins couldn't convert a very makable 35-yard kick to force overtime. No official was responsible for letting BYU star defensive end Jan Jorgensen get a big mitt on that kick.
Feel bad for Locker, who played great and was left apologizing for being justifiably overjoyed. But let's not cry too much for Washington.
Pirate Booty
Conference USA has never had a BCS buster, but after East Carolina trounced West Virginia 24-3, the Pirates are in line to be this season's darlings. They entered the Top 25 on Sunday at 14 and have a very manageable schedule. Their remaining nonconference games are at North Carolina State and at Virginia. Get past those (very doable) and ECU should reach November unbeaten with road games against UCF and Southern Miss presenting the biggest challenges. The dream (and not far-fetched) scenario for C-USA: East Carolina and Tulsa meet in the league title game with unbeaten records.
Making a Statement
With every player who gets in trouble off the field, the perception grows that Joe Paterno lacks control of his team. Of course, victories cure almost everything in sports, and the Nittany Lions responded to the suspension of three players this week, including star defensive end Maurice Evans, with a 45-14 victory over Oregon State. What problems?
Not a Misprint
M to open the season, but clearly there was no let down against an FCS opponent. ``Most teams would come out and be relaxed against a team like this,'' Arkansas State running back Reggie Arnold told the Jonesboro Sun. ``We tried to develop the killer instinct that we need to finish off teams during the season and not take these guys lightly.''
Heisman Worthy
Michael Crabtree could gain permanent residence in this space. After a quiet opening week, Crabtree had seven catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in Texas Tech's 35-19 victory over Nevada.
Best Game You Didn't See
Rice 42, Memphis 35 - Rice's Chris Jammer returned a 69-yard interception for a touchdown with 11 seconds left to lift the Owls. The interception return came just over a minute after Chase Clement scored on a 9-yard run, then completed a 2-point conversion pass to James Casey to tie the game at 35.
Notre Dame opens the season with a 21-13 victory against a San Diego State team that started its season by losing to Cal Poly. Conclusion: Notre Dame could win a Great West Conference title.
Quick Kicks
-Nothing like a sloppy victory over Tulane to remind Alabama fans that their team is still, you know, sort of rebuilding.
-Miami will be good again soon. In fact, in this Atlantic Coast Conference, maybe this season.
-Bill Stewart still making you feel all warm and fuzzy, West Virginia fans?
-With everyone picking on the ACC, the Big East's bad start has gone somewhat unnoticed.
It's all about Ohio State and Southern California for the next six days. The game of the century (2008 edition) took a bit of a hit when Ohio State mailed it in against Ohio U. Don't let that 26-14 victory against the Bobcats ruin a good thing. The Buckeyes should have Beanie Wells ready to go when they get to Los Angeles, and we'll have a much better idea about what teams will be playing for the national championship in January when it's all over.
Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Contact him at

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