Irish receive clarification on glove penalty

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In the third quarter Saturday, T.J. Jones made a 26-yard touchdown catch, leaped into his teammates' arms, then promptly stuck his thumbs and index fingers together to show off to the crowd Fighting Irish logo his gloves could form.

He was then flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, bringing coach Brian Kelly out to the field to argue with the officials.

It turns out that the penalty should not have been called.

Kelly said he received a clarification Monday from Big Ten officials saying that the gesture is not, in fact, a penalty.

"Now, if he does that and puts it in somebody's face or jumps into the Michigan State band, then that would be an unsportsmanlike penalty," the second-year coach said Tuesday.

Kelly was referencing former Irish receiver Golden Tate's spontaneous leap into the Spartans' band after scoring a touchdown two years ago.

Notre Dame received its new gloves from adidas in the offseason, and Kelly said officials went over the rules at the beginning of the season in attempt to make it clear what players can and cannot do with their gloves.

"We went over this," he said. "We literally went over this specifically, because our gloves have the Fighting Irish on the inside. So when you put your gloves together, the fighting Irishman is on the inside of the gloves. So that's my job immediately, because I saw that."

Still, gloves designed in such a way have at times become a source of confusion for players and referees alike.

Wearing throwback jerseys designed by Nike for last year's win over Michigan, Ohio State players were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty three times after putting their hands together to form an "O" after touchdowns.

"I don't think we'll be wearing those gloves ever again," then-OSU senior Justin Boren told the Plain Dealer afterward.

Kelly, meanwhile, figured there would be some trouble from the start when his squad received the new gloves.

"That's like giving your 8-year-old a lighter, you know what I mean?" he joked. "I knew this thing was gonna be something that we're gonna have to deal with. And certainly we brought it up and got the green light, so there was miscommunication along the way."