I was watching the Pinstripe Bowl the other night as Kansas State was battling to come back against Syracuse in a game played in Yankee Stadium in New York. Being an Auburn fan I have absolutely no dog in this fight.  But I saw something that was wrong, and I continue to see the same behavior and no one else is being penalized.  (Of course, I do like the fact that K. State’s song is the Wabash Canonball where the name “Daddy Claxton” comes from.)


With 1:13 remaining in the game, K. State quarterback Carson Coffman threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Hillburn.   He entered the end zone, put the ball down and then put his hand to the brow of his helmet and saluted the crowd.   He then headed off to join his team.  They were now two points down and were going to go for two to tie the game. 

But two referees threw unsportsmanlike conduct penalty flags because of his salute.  As Hillburn headed toward his team mates he says one of the refs said to him: “Wrong choice, buddy.”

The crap officiating led to K. State having to try for its two-point conversion from the 18 instead of the three-yard-line.  K. State threw a pass and it was not caught.  Essentially, GAME OVER.

According to the Kansas City Star:

The excessive-celebration penalty refers to Rule 9-2-1d: “Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player attempts to focus attention on himself (or themselves).”

“It was the salute, which was the judgment of the calling officials, which were the head linesman and the back judge,” said Todd Geerlings, the referee of the Big Ten crew.

Two officials threw the flag, both judged it to be drawing attention to themselves, and that’s what the flag was for.”


Perhaps there should have been a penalty flag thrown at the two refs, say like, 15 yards for drawing attention to themselves. Since that call I’ve seen several other players in other games doing the same things.  No salutes but one of the Alabama players did some kind of deal with his hands and gloves all over himself when he scored the first TD in the Capital One Bowl.

No, we don’t want spiking the ball, stupid dances and all that going on, but the refs in the Pinstripe Bowl clearly had their heads up their butts.  These kids are out there having a good time and playing their hearts out.  Many of them will never suit up for football again.  There’s lots of excitement.  And instead of going up to Hillburn and saying, “Hey kid, calm down and get back over to your sideline,” these two clowns in Zebra suits decided to insert themselves and change the course of history.  No one will ever know what would have happened if these two refs hadn’t decided to make so much of themselves.  It’s just a shame that adults have to do things like this that so adversely affect kids.

What’s worse, is that in these other games I’ve been watching, like the clip of a Florida Gator who just ran into the end zone, jumped around twice and then began to do the gator mouth to the cheering crowd, the results have been far different.  The ref watched him carefully, but NO FLAG.

The NCAA needs to take a look at this.  Will it ever fix what travesty was caused in the first Pinstripe Bowl?  Sadly, no.  That damage is done.  Maybe they also could let these two refs who obviously don’t have any common sense to go referee in little league.  They’d fit right in.   And I’m sure there’d be plenty of parents around to tell them when they’re making dumb-assed calls.  It’s just that the consequences might not be as significant.

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  1. Chuck W

    Totally agree with this post. I am a Clemson fan and the exact same thing happened to Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen against UVA last year after he scored a TD. Hard to see on the video link below, but you can see the official throw the flag like a pansy.

  2. Donny Claxton

    I agree, that was another crap call. It think that rule needs some review. Along with that 10-second roll off concept. Whether UNC used that to hurt TN or not is debatable, but it’s worth considering.

  3. Keenan Zielke

    I am a diehard KSU fan and I always have been. Every year that they have been so close to greatness, but sadly very rarely achieved it. Hopefully the game called the “Pinstripe Bowl” will set the precident to either start calling the game more closely, or have those two ignorant refs fired. I’m not saying that KSU would have won or that I hate Syracuse because the odds of getting a two-point conversion are not high. But a two-point conversion has a much smaller chance of success from the 18-yardline. I honestly wonder if those two refs were paid or had money on the game or SOMETHING to justify their actions. Hilburn stood in the endzone and saluted the small group of fans that made the long travel to New York to watch them play. I have seen much worse go on in the endzone and the refs just turn a blind eye. Those refs have targets on their backs, and not just mine.

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