Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson spoke with The Oklahoman last week and was asked about Justin Blackmon's infamous detour across the goal line before scoring a 71-yard touchdown against Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.
“There's nothing wrong with a player running horizontally, there's no rule that says you always have to be moving vertically on the field,” Anderson said.
Anderson pointed to the fact there could have been a strategic reason for Blackmon's decision to run along the goal line. He also noted that the Biletnikoff winner did not gesture toward his opponent during the play.
Well, that won't be the case next year, straight from the mouth of somebody who would know. Dave Parry, the national officiating coordinator told CBSSports.com that Blackmon's touchdown would definitely come off the board next season.
"That will be shown in February," Parry told the site. "I've already told them to pull that play. Next year, with the rule as it's written as we speak, that would not be a touchdown."
Blackmon wasn't flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the game, and the troubling inconsistency between the NCAA and conferences aside, I sense this will only be the first of a handful of frustrating conversations that have to occur between now and the end of next season. Starting in 2011, if an unsportsmanlike penalty occurs in the field of play, before the player crosses the goal line, it's treated as a spot foul and the touchdown is taken off the board.
That means a penalty like Kansas State's Adrian Hilburn committed with The Bronx Salute, won't erase the touchdown, but can be applied to the extra point, conversion attempt or kickoff, the same way the rule was enforced this season.
If it were up to me, I'd have one rule: Don't direct a celebration at an opponent or taunt them. Otherwise, I support complete anarchy in the end zone. You score, you earn 15-30 seconds to put on a show. Props, group celebrations, choreographed dances. Do what you want.
But then again, I like football because it's entertaining. My apologies.
Sportsmanship, shmortshmanshmip. Is it a "classier" gesture to hand the ball to the official after a score? Sure. Is it as entertaining? Surely not. Outside of a retaliatory cheap shot, I don't see a lot of harm in letting players have fun if they earn it with a big play.
I understand the desire of the coaches who help shape the NCAA rules to remove celebrations like Blackmon's from the game, but as a fan of the game, I'd love to see them stay.
Instead, everyone will get to fight about the new rules the first time somebody crosses the too-conservative line and gets a touchdown erased. I'm sure everyone's looking forward to that.