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April 17, 2010

Roundtable: How about the new taunting penalty?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport. This week, we'll have two roundtables, one today and one Sunday.

Thursday, the NCAA passed a change to the taunting rule for the 2011 season. If a player is penalized for taunting on a scoring play, the penalty will be marked from the spot of the foul and the touchdown goes away. (If the penalty occurs in the end zone, the TD still counts). Your thoughts?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
On the surface, that proposal has some merit if putting an end to taunting is the top priority. But we've seen far too frequently in the past few years that officials cannot be counted upon to use common sense on these calls. Yes, if a player starts a Deion Sanders-like strut into the end zone or somersaults across the goal line, those should be easy calls to make. But invariably a touchdown will be disallowed because a player pumps his fist in excitement. A game or even a championship could be lost because an official makes a ridiculous call, such as the one against Georgia's A.J. Green against LSU last season -- or the one on Washington's Jake Locker against BYU in 2008.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think it's a horrible rule because of how it's applied. Taunting is taunting, no matter where it happens on the field. I don't think a touchdown should come back if a player taunts before he reaches the end zone. How is it any different than if he does the same taunting act in the end zone? A team is punished less severely if the player has the "discipline" to wait to taunt in the end zone? Absurd. I think the infraction should be penalized as it already is: on the extra point or ensuing kickoff.

David Fox's answer:
If you thought coaches were mad when extra points turned into 35-yard field goal attempts, just wait until points -- and wins -- are taken off the board. NCAA coordinator of officials Dave Parry says a penalty would only be called for a gross and obvious taunt. That's a comforting thing to say, but officials don't always know the difference between "taunting" and "excitement." Just ask Georgia's A.J. Green or Washington's Jake Locker. I bet this rule will be around just long enough to cost someone a win and maybe a coach's job, then be repealed the following year.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Thankfully, it doesn't go into effect until 2011, which means the rules-makers can see this fall how unfairly the penalty is applied in some leagues. Watch a lot of football on any given Saturday, and you will notice that refs in some leagues (especially the SEC) apply the rule vastly different than refs in other leagues. Until there is uniformity in how the rule is called, it's going to be a disaster. Maybe the powers-that-be will realize that this fall and either repeal the rule or make sure it's called the same nationally. If there is no guarantee that it will be called the same, do away with the rule entirely. On the same day this rule was passed, the NCAA also passed a rule banning the use of words or symbols on a player's eyeblack starting this fall. Think about that for a minute: There actually are NCAA types sitting around worried about a player's eyeblack! Is it any wonder the NCAA is such an object of derision?

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm surprised the NCAA found a way to make the stupidest rule on the books even more ridiculous. This rule already was a joke because it's such a judgment call on exactly when a celebration has crossed the line into taunting. Remember the 15-yard penalty on Washington quarterback Jake Locker against BYU a couple of years ago? Instead of having a chip-shot extra point to force overtime, Washington had to kick a 35-yard attempt that was blocked. This rule probably should have been eliminated. Instead, it now comes with a stiffer penalty. Maybe I'm missing something, but it doesn't seem to me as though taunting has been a major problem in recent seasons anyway. If you want to continue to punish taunting -- even though each official seems to have a different definition for what constitutes an offense -- just make it a 5-yard penalty. Don't make it the type of penalty that could have a major impact on a game's outcome.



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