Here is this week's mailbag:
From Katherine in Orlando: I hate taunting, but don't you feel like the NCAA would be going completely insane to take away touchdowns any time someone celebrates? This is football not FIGURE SKATING!!
I completely agree, Katherine. From the reaction I got when I broached the topic with my Tweeter buddies, it was almost universally ripped, as folks used the words "absurd" and "awful" a lot. Longtime SI writer John Walters, now at AOL Fanhouse, wrote in to say "They'd have had to call back Tracy Porter's game-winning INT in the Super Bowl." He's got a point. It is ridiculous or it would become that.
Now, that's not to say that a lot of people don't think the NCAA needed to examine taunting. But the problem here is the distinction between taunting and celebrating. One is doing something with the intention of being disrespectful to your opponent. The other is rejoicing in your performance and fits with the spirit of the game. Too often I feel like the NCAA rules folks and many officials equate celebrating with taunting, but maybe this is generational. I'm not 20 any more, but I did grow up as a fan of Deion Sanders and I certainly didn't mind Jim McMahon or Brian Bosworth or any other colorful characters. And I'm a big Jared Allen fan now. The example of Washington QB Jake Locker getting flagged after scoring against BYU was exactly the kind of thing the NCAA needs to guard against.
This proposal, as announced Thursday by the Football Rules Committee (which would have to be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel), says that players who draw flags for taunting gestures on their way to a touchdown would have the penalty assessed from the spot of the foul, taking away the score. (Penalties that occur in the end zone would continue to be assessed on the extra-point attempt, two-point conversion try or ensuing kickoff.)
"Taunting and prolonged individual acts have no place in our game, and our officials have generally handled these rules well," said former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, the committee chair. "This is just another step in maintaining our game's image and reflecting the ideals of the NCAA overall."
Think about guys who vault into the end zone to score as Reggie Bush has done numerous times, and as I believe an Ole Miss player was flagged for doing in the Cotton Bowl, which replays showed seemed pretty dubious. Those would be coming back. Keep in mind, it's not like punishing teams on the kickoff doesn't still have a big impact. It does. Look at what happened after UGA star A.J. Green was flagged after he scored a go-ahead touchdown pass late in a game against LSU. Those 15 yards assessed on the ensuing kickoff helped LSU get into position to drive for the winning score. And the SEC later admitted there was no video evidence to support the flag on Green. So does the NCAA really want to go this far now?