MORGANTOWN - What is it about the NCAA and the folks who gather together every year to tweak the rules governing the games kids play?
For the most part, the ones who get together and talk about basketball, well, they get it. On the football side? Well, not so much.
For instance, the men's and women's basketball rules committees met last week and decided that elbowing has become a problem. If their recommendation passes, referees next year will call flagrant or intentional fouls when some kid spins around with a rebound and elbows another kid in the head.
The football committee? Well, they decided that eye black has become a problem.
In basketball, the women can experiment with a longer 3-point line in exhibition games. It could be the first step toward eliminating the spider's webs that now adorn some courts with a women's line at 19 feet, 9 inches and a men's line at 20-9. Lord help you if you ever see a court with NCAA men's and women's lines, an NBA line (23-9 across the arc and down to 22 feet in the corners) and international lines (FIBA is at 20-6 now, but will extend that to 22-2 this fall for major international competition and the same in two years for domestic play). Whew.
Anyway, back to the NCAA football rules committee. They decided that it isn't enough to penalize a guy for taunting during a touchdown run by penalizing his team on the PAT or the kickoff. Beginning next fall, if somebody turns around and holds the ball out before crossing the goal line - or, we assume, leaps into the end zone - it will be a live-ball foul. No touchdown. Mark it back 15 yards from where the guy celebrated.
Boy, now these are real game-changers, aren't they?
OK, so maybe the taunting rule isn't purely and unabashedly ridiculous. I think it's pretty classless to be waving a ball at a trailing defender or pointing fingers. The leaping-into-the-end-zone, somersault thing? I've got no problem with that, but apparently someone thinks it's taunting, so that's banned.
(By the way, the real controversy over the taunting rule won't be the rule itself, but the interpretation by individual officials. Think of all the taunting calls you've seen in recent years and how you disagreed with probably half of them. Now consider that some of those will now take points off the board. Ouch.)
At any rate, show some sportsmanship. Act like you've been in the end zone before. But if you don't, what's wrong with the 15-yard post-play penalty? With very few exceptions can I think of coaches who won't take it upon themselves to correct that problem after they have to kick off from their 15 a time or two.
But eye black? Has that really become an issue?