Let the celebration begin

December 6th, 2007

It is about time that the NCAA football enters the 21st century.

They still don’t have a playoff format as Ohio State and the team that has not been beaten in regulation, LSU, backed into the National Championship. Also, it is somehow illegal for 18-22 year old kids to act their age and celebrate.

While the number is subject to change depending on where you go to school, I’m talking to you Chris Weinke, the fact of the matter is the excessive celebration rule needs to be reviewed.

Now, there is no fine line between celebrating a touchdown on your own and having a full 86-man roster storm the field to celebrate a touchdown, but some leeway should be allowed.

I do agree that college football should prohibit spiking the ball, jumping into the stands or pulling a cell phone from under the uprights, but what is wrong with a little bit of arm waving?

When you are dealing with rivalries that are well over twice the age of most of the players involved in the actual game, celebrations should be expected. Just this season I witnessed a player record a sack and get up to celebrate his accomplishment only to be flagged 15 yards for excessive celebration.

If he is anything like college students I know, beating his buddies in a video game would incite a larger, more extravagant celebration than what took place on the football field.

The NCAA needs to realize that kids will be kids and they are going to get excited when they score touchdowns, pick off a pass, etc. So relax on the rules a little bit.

Let’s say Ohio State returns the opening kickoff of the National Championship back for a touchdown and the return man does not hurt his ankle.

So long as the football is not spiked, there are no lewd gestures made and he does not do the Ickey Shuffle, there should be no flags assessed for his celebration.

Every other college sport allows players to celebrate as they please, short of taunting, with no risk of an infraction, but football will flag a player for smacking a few fans’ hands. Let the players celebrate with the fans a little bit. It’s part of the atmosphere.

Look at it this way – some soccer players score a goal and run around the pitch pretending they are an airplane. They do not receive a red card for these antics.

However, if Chris Wells scores a touchdown against LSU and runs around the end zone like a Boeing, you better believe that extra point will be pushed back 15 yards.

No one reading this column may live to see college football adopt a playoff format but the athletes we are watching should be able to exercise their right to pump the crowd up after a big play.

Unless Chad Johnson decides to teach a touchdown celebration class at a few schools, college football players will have no material when the reach the pros. I’m pretty sure you will never see Johnson with PhD after his name so something has got to give.

So I urge the NCAA, if they happen across this issue of the CN, to rethink the celebration penalty. Let the kids play a little, Lord knows the NFL won’t let them once they graduate.