Official: Controversial calls correct

Updated: December 31, 2010, 8:57 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The national coordinator for college football officials said Friday the controversial calls in the Music City and New Era Pinstripe bowls were correct, but added the chaotic end to the North Carolina-Tennessee game will lead the NCAA rules committee to consider a rule change.

The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl went to overtime after North Carolina was penalized for illegal substitution on what looked like the final play. Tennessee had already started celebrating the victory, but game officials walked off the 5-yard penalty and replay officials put a second back on the clock. That gave the Tar Heels enough time to kick a tying field goal.

North Carolina eventually won 30-27 in double overtime.

David Parry, who oversees college football officiating for the NCAA, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the Big Ten officials handled the confusing final seconds properly.

"The issue that's going to come up is the team that made the mistake by having the illegal substitution ended up getting the benefit from the rule," he said.

Parry said NFL rules allow for 10 seconds to be run off the clock on some late-game penalties and he said college football might consider adopting a similar rule.

"It was handled correctly, but I do anticipate the rules committee, which meets in the middle of February, to have that on their agenda for discussions," he said.

Parry also said the rule book supports officials who flagged a Kansas State player for excessive celebration for saluting after he scored a touchdown late in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse.

Wildcats receiver Adrian Hilburn had a 30-yard touchdown catch with 1:13 left, cutting Syracuse's lead to 36-34. But when Hilburn got to the back of the end zone, he gave a quick salute to the fans in the stands.

Two officials from another Big Ten crew dropped flags and the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty meant the Wildcats had to go for the potential tying 2-point conversion from about the 17-yard line instead of the 2, where conversions are usually spotted.

Kansas State couldn't convert and the Orange won by two.

"It's a judgment call, but technically speaking such acts that bring attention to yourself, those are fouls," he said. "Some people would say it's a little too technical, too marginal, but as it's written, officials are covered by the rule."

Parry said a point of emphasis for several years now by the rules committee has been "good sportsmanship, clean play, no showboating, no drawing excessive attention to yourself."

He also said officials are encouraged to "error on the side of good sportsmanship."

Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, who is the chairman of the rules committee, said Thursday during a Fiesta Bowl news conference the officials in the Pinstripe Bowl got the excessive celebration call correct.

"We try to tell our kids all the time that you just can't bring attention to yourself. If we see that they are doing it we try to correct it during practice," he said.

Edsall added he'd like to see more consistency in the way the rule is enforced.

"Well, I do think that there is some inconsistencies maybe between conferences. I think we're getting closer. I think we're getting closer with the new officiating group that's a national officiating group that has been formed," Edsall said, referring to College Football Officiating, LLC, which Parry heads.

After last season, the rules committee considered making the excessive celebration penalty even tougher.

A proposal that would have taken points off the board if a player was flagged for excessive celebration after a touchdown did not pass, but there is a change coming to the unsportsmanlike conduct rule in 2011.

Next season, if a player draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the play, the penalty will wipe away the result of the play. For example, if a player high steps or necessarily dives into the end zone, the touchdown will be taken away and a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press