College football needs to lighten up on taunting

College football needs to lighten up on taunting

It sounds crazy, but by far the worst call of the football season somehow did not involve the NFL and those lovable words “complete the process of the catch.”

The worst call wasn’t even in Lambeau Field, which has a 64-year streak of hosting the worst call of the season.

This year’s leader in the clubhouse of dubious calls came in the Montana Tech-Rocky Mountain College game on the Bob Green Field.

A Montana Tech defensive player was flagged for “taunting” after the Orediggers stopped the Battlin’ Bears for a 1-yard loss on third and 3 from the Tech 37-yard line.

Nobody could see why the flag was thrown. The Orediggers didn’t do an elaborate celebration. It wasn’t like they reenacted a scene from the movie BASEketball.

It had to be something the Oredigger player said, and, God forbid, we add hurt feelings to a sport full of torn ACLs, broken collarbones and concussions.

The thing that bothers me about the call isn’t that it gave the Bears a first down that directly led to a game-tying touchdown late in the third quarter.

The thing that bothers me isn’t even that a Rocky receiver was not flagged for taunting earlier in the game when he made a great catch and then demonstratively stood over the Oredigger defender.

What is offensive about the call was that they used the words “taunting.”

Nobody is disputing that the Tech player said or did something that constituted a flag under the rule book. I’m sure the officials went by the letter of the law, even though they did not earlier.

The problem is the rule-makers have the officials worrying about things they shouldn’t be concerned with at all.

Don’t the officials already have enough to be watching for with holding, clipping and pass interference?

Do we really want the white hairs in the white caps distinguishing between what is acceptable trash talk and what is taunting between 18 to 23-year-old guys? Most of the officials haven’t even seen BASEketball — or a more timely and relevant movie that I could have referenced had I not been as out of touch with pop culture as the old guy in the white cap.

We really should reconsider why we are so hard on football players for having fun in the first place.

It seems like smack talk is accepted — even encouraged — in other sports, but we try to force the young men playing the barbaric sport of college football to act like they are at church after every play.

Look at the World Series. Not only was it the best World Series since 2013, it set the record for taunting after hits. Not just home runs, either. They were taunting after singles. Leadoff singles.

Even when his late-game home run was too little, too late, Joc Pederson of the Dodgers ran around the bases like he was Bobby Thompson after the Shot Heard ‘Round the World.

You have to wonder what Bob Gibson was thinking. He probably threw his remote at the TV when the next batter – and hit him in the ribs. Same with Don Drysdale. And Pedro Martinez.

Gibson, Drysdale and Martinez, though, come from a different time, and times, boy, they have a changed. All you have to do is look at the way the players wear their hats to see that.

While there are some old-school holdovers who will still throw a punch at a player for a taunting bat flip — and God bless you Rougned Odor — but they are few and far between.

For the most part, players want to showboat every seemingly significant accomplishment like Peter Griffin when he scored a touchdown for the Patriots.

Earlier this season, the Minnesota Vikings celebrated a touchdown by playing Duck, Duck, Goose, the game popular with kindergarten children around the world.

Yes, the Minnesota Vikings. The Purple People Eaters. They played Duck, Duck, Goose, and you can only hope that Bud Grant wasn’t watching that night.

The Kansas City Chiefs pretending they were in a sack race on Sunday wasn’t much better.

Yet, a Montana Tech player can’t give a little “in your face” banter after a big tackle? You’ve got to be kidding.

Football is the one sport where players should be allowed to show some emotion after a big play. Whenever they do, though, the Fun Nazis are there to say “tisk, tisk.”

Years ago, Montana Western used an incredible hook-and-ladder play for a touchdown of about 90 yards to tie Montana Tech in the final seconds of the game.

It was one of the best plays you could ever see, and, naturally, many Western players left the sideline to celebrate the touchdown. That drew a flag, and the Bulldogs were penalized for excessive celebration, as if there could really be such a thing for such a play.

The Bulldogs only should have been penalized if they did not rush the field.

In football, after all, every play could literally be your last, so you have to play with a certain edge about you. So, you’d think that would at least allow the players in football the leeway of, say, a volleyball player.

Seriously, have you ever been to a high school or college volleyball match?

The taunting that is allowed in that sport would bring an old — or even a middle aged — football official to tears.

One team celebrates every point in a volleyball match. That’s right, if a set finishes at 25-23, the set sees 48 celebrations that would draw a 15-yard penalty in a college football game.

That means you can see 150 or more of such celebrations in an entire match.

A team could be trailing 24-3 and facing match point. Then, if the team scores a point to cut the lead to 20, the players will celebrate like they just hit a walk-off home run.

Bob Gibson would throw his remote at the TV if he saw it.

There really is nothing wrong with the way volleyball players act during matches. Actually, it’s one of my favorite things about watching the sport.

There is no way, however, that you can call such reactions anything but taunting of the opponent.

But you know what? The other team never seems to mind.

It’s just like the Astros were upset that Pederson hit a home run, not that he acted like Peter Griffin as he rounded bases.

The Orediggers were not offended when the receiver taunted the defensive back, and you better believe the Rocky player subjected to the alleged taunting words from the Orediggers would have bounced back before the punt team was on the field.

Even the No Fun League has come around by letting the professional football players have some fun. It’s time for college football to come around, too.

Let’s let football players know the joy of what it is like to score a point in volleyball or hit a leadoff single in the World Series.

Even if the celebration includes a game of Duck, Duck, Goose.

— Bill Foley, one of the better Duck, Duck, Goose players the Blaine Elementary School has ever seen, writes a column that appears Tuesday on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74


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