published Thursday, December 8th, 2011

5 at 10: State title robbery, Braves silence, college football rantings

Don't forget about Friday's mailbag. From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...



Excessive excessive celebration calling

On his 18th birthday on Saturday, Matt Owens lived the dream. The senior quarterback of his high school football team, Owens ran for a long TD late in the fourth quarter for the winning score of the Massachusetts state championship game. As the goal line became visible and the outcome was becoming clear, Owens raised his left hand for about 7 yards of his run before finishing heading into the end zone.

The dream, however, became a nightmare. The referees called Owens for excessive celebration and the flag negated the TD. Owens and his teammates lost 16-14. Here's the video (Mass. title lost when QB celebrates winning TD).

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association issued a statement about the rules and the interpretation and the learning experience that is available here and the fact that the other team's win is being "tarnished" by the hubbub of Owens' situation. Here is the statement MIAA issued to ESPN (MIAA statement on D4A Super Bowl).

The MIAA can have its say, of course, and the 5-at-10 can have ours. And we clearly and openly say shame on the referee, the MIAA and everyone who believes the letter of the law is better more important than right and wrong or even justice being served.

Hey, blame the NFL receivers who celebrate after getting 8 yards and a first down or the safety who thumps his chest after making a tackle 18 yards down field — when their team is getting beat by three touchdowns. Blame the "Me-first" approach that has made travel ball, AAU teams, et al., more important than high school seasons. Blame coaches at any level who not only condone players showing out on the field or in practice but do a fair amount of theatrics on the sideline themselves.

But to turn what should have been the single biggest highlight/memory of Matt Owens' life into a something he'll never forget for all the wrong reasons is tragic. And it's only made worse by the ridiculousness of the claim, "It's a teachable moment." What's the lesson: Don't get excited? Don't show emotion? Don't embrace happiness or success or life's good times?

Stop. This was a blown call and a river of excuses and rationalizations. The fact that it was a point of emphasis from the start of the season and how the proper procedure was followed is all well and good. It's also semantics.

Watch the video, this is barely a celebration, and considering the moment, is light years from "excessive" celebration. And to go one step further, considering the moment and the stakes and the magnitude of this play, Owens' brief arm raise is more sportsman-like than unsportsman.

Are we really to this point? The Sharpies and cell phone calls that created laughable and circus-like choreography has begat flips into the end zone and posing on logos has begat over-energized, self-serving attention-getting antics for routine plays. And hey, if you want to stop that, fine and best of luck.

But to encourage a process that appears to be aimed at taking the passion and joy and excitement out of sports — especially high school sports — is downright laughable and is bordering on insane.

Rules are made and adopt with the expectation that the players and coaches follow them. This rule — as signified by this enforcement and the MIAA's backing of it — is obviously prepared to prevent embracing the uncontrollable joy that is fulfilling a lifetime dream of scoring a state-championship winning touchdown. And if that's even acceptable under this rule, then which is more excessive, the rule or the violation.

Congrats Matt Owens, and hope you enjoyed your birthday — without celebrating excessively like blowing out candles or something.



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    New Miami Marlins Jose Reyes puts on a team cap during a news conference at the Major League Baseball 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. The Marlins unveiled the newly signed free-agent shortstop Reyes. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Hey Marlins, we going to need some credit checks

The Miami Marlins have added Jose Reyes. You know this.

They have added left-handed ace Mark Buerhle (who is a sneaky good 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA in a career spent in the AL). You know this too.

Now they are among the front-runners for left CJ Wilson. If the Yankees were making these moves — and they have made very similar moves in years past — everyone from Buster Olney to Buster Brown would be crying that the Evil Empire is ruining baseball. Now, because it's the Marlins, not so much.

But know these four things from the baseball meetings:

— Now that the Marlins have backed off Albert Pujols, here's hoping he stays in St. Louis and gets to end his career there. That's how it should be. (And if he needs any advice, think Tom Glavine doesn't wish he had stayed in the A-T-L for a little less coin?)

— Johnny Braves Fan has to be worried about the Marlins now. If they add Wilson, to Buerhle and a healthy Josh Johnson, that's a nasty 1-2-3.

— Bobby Valentine tried to embrace himself to Red Sox Nation by saying he hates the Yankees on Wednesday. That's all well and good, but he better have better material when he forgets to run for Big Papi in the eighth inning of a tied game sometime this season. One-liners and fake glasses and mustaches are not going to gut it in that market.

— Did Frank Wren even attend the winter meetings? The silence from the Braves is overwhelming.



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    Matt Molina, of the Fiesta Bowl Committee Florida, hangs a banner at Florida's practice field at Scottsdale Community College Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Florida will take on Ohio State in the BCS Championship football game on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

More on the BCS

Boise State caoch Chris Petersen says he's tired of the BCS. Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby says the plus-one model "inevitable."

OK, we get it. Everyone hates the BCS right now. Every team other than Alabama got hosed. Every bad thing in the world today can be blamed on how college football crowns a national champ.

That said, there will not be a change until the university presidents want a change. No matter how many coaches or ADs bellyache and bemoan the current system. No matter how many talking heads pop off because of the "outrage." No matter how many fans... wait, when do the fans factor into anything related to big-time sports any more? Nevermind.

Until the presidents will make the call to move and until they see a financial reason to make those moves, here's saying the BCS is going nowhere.

(That said, when the change is made — and it will be — and the college football regular season feels hollow and unfulfilling compared to what we have now, here's hoping all the "Playoff now" crowd are screaming the loudest.)



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    Boise State head coach Chris Petersen looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wyoming on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 in Boise, Idaho. BSU went on to win 36-14. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

This and that, college football coaches division

— Arizona State reportedly offered June Jones its head coaching job, he accepted it and the Sun Devils pulled the offer because the deal was taking too long. OK, maybe Jones the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and coach who led Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl in 2007 was not the right guy. Maybe a better candidate became interested. But to pull the offer because the negotiations were taking too long seems silly and destructive for each side. ASU is committed to finding the right football coach as long as he gets back to them in a timely fashion? Plus, June has to return to SMU and convince his fan base and his players that he really wants to be at SMU. How long will he get to convince them?

— Larry Fedora accepted the UNC gig, leaving Southern Miss after last week's stunning upset over Houston. Fedora and the Eagles denied the Cougars a BCS spot and ultimately cost Conference USA about $10 million with the win over the Cougars. Now, Fedora leaves for an intriguing opportunity with the Tar Heels. UNCS could be in position for a quick turnaround because former coach Butch Davis recruited NFL talent. That said, UNCS is waiting on its NCAA fate because as Davis was recruiting NFL talent he was in some ways treating them line NFL players.

— Penn State appears to be interested in Boise State coach Chris Petersen, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

— Among the high-profile coordinator jobs now open is the defensive coordinator gig at Auburn, where much-maligned Ted Roof left for the DC job at Central Florida. Yes, it appears to be a pre-emptive move by Roof — and here's saying he was not begged to stay after have a record-setting (in a bad way) defense at Auburn in 2011. Here's saying the Tigers should make former star player and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who's now with the Tennessee Titans, say no.

— Now that the shakes are starting to ripple, the 5-at-10 is always interested in who gets those next-tier jobs. Who's going to replace Fedora at Southern Miss? Who will replace Kevin Sumlin when he leaves Houston? Or how about Louisville when the offer comes for Charlie Strong, who we still say is the best mid-level guy on the market right now?



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    LSU's Tyrann Mathieu (7) got mobbed last Friday after a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown against Arkansas, one of three touchdowns the Tigers produced during a six-minute stretch of the second quarter in their eventual 41-17 win.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Today's question

Who you got in the Heisman?

We've stood by Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in that order.

Will Tyrann Mathieu cut into Richardson's southern base? With RG III and Luck split the quarterback-leaning voting base? Can NEwt make a run and what to make of Herman Cain? Or even Joe Kane, the QB1 of the fictional ESU Wolves in "The Program" as a choice?

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

Jay--Haven't the Bravos always been pretty silent at this stage, springing surprises late in the game?

Things are looking up for Johnny Volsfans for next year. The Pantone folks have decreed that 2012's color of the year is tangerine tango. Pantone's decree determines what colors show up prominently in fashion, home decor, even cars. They say tangerine tango "marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow to form a magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy." Reminds me of the verbiage you sling around. So orange will rule. Still, Derek's trousers have to go.

December 8, 2011 at 10:20 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Fair point about the Braves waiting in the weeds, and it's not like we expected them be in the Pujols sweepstakes. (BREAKING NEWS: The Pujols sweepstakes is over after he signed a 10-year, $250-million contract with the Angels of Anaheim. Yes, that's $25 million per year, which means in he's in CJ tax-bracket territory.)

As for the tangerine tango, that's great. Although that would be better if Johnny Vols Fan was rooting for chewing gum rather than football teams.

FYI — "Reminds me of the verbiage you sling around." That's well-played indeed right there, my friend.

— 5-at-10

December 8, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Wren is hatching up a plan to get Ryan Braun, Yovani Gollardo and Rickie Weeks for Darrell Evans, BJ Surhoff and Dave Martinez, with Buzz Capra and Biff Pocoroba thrown in. But no Bill Nahorodny.

Ted Roof was a great college player. As a college defensive coordinator, he was a great college player.

December 8, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

Alber Pulos...an Angel...wow...just wow. I watched the "celebration" video and it made me sick at my stomache. What a blown call and it takes me back to the flag against Green (you know the one im talkin about...i've referenced it maybe once or twice). Something has to be done about this rule. It needs to be clearly defined and outlined. No ref should EVER take a victory away from a player for being excited about scoring the game winning touchdown! Now if he starts taunting thats one thing, but just being excited?!? Cmon! Not really concerned about the Heisman as we have seen too many times in the past, its not always correct. The SEC has been shunned one too many times so i dont even care who wins it.

December 8, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Tangerine Tango about to replace Lambada as the next forbidden dance.

December 8, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

That would be a sweet deal, but parting with Capra would be tough, although he has had a Wonderful Life.

And yes, Ted Roof was on fire as a college player. As a college coach, not so much. But all they need at UCF is a Chan Gailey sighting, a Bill Lewis hiring and get Joe Hamilton as a QB coach and you'll have the Ga Tech all-stars down there.

As for the dance, isn't the Macarena the real forbidden dance, as in you forbid your friends form doing it. (And if anyone starts bad-mouthing the electric slide, it's go time.)

Oso —

Glad to see you around. Which Green celebration to which are you referring? (Kidding. Kidding.)

As a ref/ump, want your opinion on this: It's great the state association has the ref's back, but the "teaching tool" and life lesson mumbo-jumbo is crud. Want a real life lesson: When you make a mistake, admit it and move on. Don't wrap yourself in technicalities and semantics.

— 5-at-10

December 8, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

I see what you did there, 5, and I like it.

The mere mention of Bill Lewis has cost me my appetite for lunch. Not even a baldinos half No. 16 (the sausage Italiano) could remedy that.

Also forbidden - the chicken dance. Except under duress. Or a lot of alcohol (see reception, wedding).

December 8, 2011 at 11:20 a.m.
eljefe said...

So, I read yesterday's column late and it has camo's and hobos and all mixture of mirth and merriment and now, somehow we are talking about dancing? What's worse is Jay-Bird is now J-Lo ready to throwdown at the hoedown if someone pops off about the "e-slide."

Another slow news day indeed. That said, adios and adieu to Mr. Roof. I could not agree more with offering Rocker the job. In fact, Auburn landing him as the DC has just surpassed Larry Lucchino personally calling me to tell me the whole "Bobby V. thing was a prank" as the top spot on my Christmas wish list.

Senor Pujols, aye aye aye! Was this a teachable moment? Was the lesson "You should leave a storied organization with a rich history where you have equalled or surpassed the legendary status of none other than Stan Musial for the Angels of Anaheim?"

As I type this, those crafty Angels also signed C. J. Wilson. Here's guessing the over/under on Nolan Ryan punching someone in the face is 1.2 seconds.

December 8, 2011 at 11:50 a.m.
Redlegs11 said...

Heisman has got to go to RGIII...and I think the voting won't be as close as soem think. I know the Bama mafia did its best, but I think they chased in too many chips just to get backsides handed to them in the BCS title game. Besides....I know you constantly say Richardson is a beast, but my contention is still that he is NOT the best player on Bama's team and that should count for something. His stats would be the worst for a tailback to win a Heisman since Archie Griffin won his second one...RGIII is the best player on his team and what he did to elevate Baylor this year shouyld serve him well in the voting. RGII, Luck and Richardson is third.

December 8, 2011 at 11:50 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Wedding dancing is in the "No-heckle" zone. All bets are off.

And we think you're over-selling your ailments — the No. 16 at Baladinos can cure anything this side of cancer, so Bill Lewis is no match for it.

Jefe —

Somewhere Robin Ventura just cringed, because you're spo on that Nolan Ryan is looking for someone's fanny to whip.

The life lesson here is Albert gots to get his. And so does C.J. It's sad, but true. Dude could have retired a legend in St. Louis, but now he's A-Rod minus the needle. Or worse yet, he's this generation's Frank Robinson, who had world-class numbers but not the rep or the panache of a Stan Musial or Mantle or some of the guys that stayed in one city forever.

Heck, Albert will have numbers twice what Chipper or Ripken posted and he won't be remembered as fondly. But hey, $250 million means you can pay a lot of people to tell you they love you.

Auburn fans everywhere would like for T-Rock to be in the stocking — not necessarily in stockings, per se, not that there's anything wrong with that. Let's just move along.

Redlegs —

Fair points all around. Although we believe that Trent is Bama's best player, there's no debating that RGIII is the best player on his team and maybe the best player in Baylor history. Plus his numbers are off the chart — although numbers have taken a backseat to hype in regard to the Heisman, otherwise Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, who averages almost 3 TDs per game would be getting more love.

December 8, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.
memphisexile said...

Honey Badger!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4zbJPowJX8

That being said, I think Montee Ball from Wisconsin should be ahead of Richardson. Ball 1759 yards and 32 (32!!!) TDs. Richardson 1583 yards 20 TDs.

Overall, I think Mathieu has had the best season given his stellar play on defense, forced turnovers, defensive TDs and punt returns.

December 8, 2011 at 1:22 p.m.
memphisexile said...

And yes, I am viewing this through purple/gold tinted glasses.

December 8, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Exile —

The shade of your glasses does not matter here. We're a Crayola box — all colors are welcome.

Honey Badger was HUGE in big moments, there's not doubting that. There's also no doubting that according to the NFL folks we know, he's the third-best DB on LSU's team. And yes, that has to make every LSU fan sleep better at night that a Heisman finalist is the Tigers' third-best DB.

— 5-at-10

December 8, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

As a fellow official I am thoroughly embarrassed! You have one man's opinion coming into play and a break down of the four man system! The other three officials SHOULD have stepped in there and said not excessive! That's the most disturbing part! NOBODY stepped up and said "No way that's not a penalty". The ball was dropped and the MIAA needs to step up and admit it! That's the difference between these jokers and professional ref's, at least when they mess up they do admit it sometimes. (referencing the baseball ump who blew the call at first to ruin the perfect game)

December 8, 2011 at 1:31 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

Well said. Thanks for fielding the question.

— 5-at-10

December 8, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.
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