There was a mix-up in the Arizona secondary. Cornerback Robert Golden gave a half-hearted chuck to Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and let him run by.
Problem was, there was no safety to help.
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden easily connected with Blackmon down field … and then the real fun began.
Blackmon, nearing the goal line all alone, ran along the goal line, crossing the hashmarks from right to left before dipping into the end zone as defensive back Adam Hall closed in.
It was a 71-yard touchdown.
It wouldn’t be — at least it shouldn’t be — this season.
The major rule change in college football is that any taunting penalty that occurs before a touchdown will be a 15-yard infraction at the spot of the foul. In other words, no touchdown.
Under the old rule, the penalty was applied on the conversion attempt or on the ensuing kickoff.
Officials whiffed in Blackmon’s case by not assessing a penalty to his cross-field run (clearly, he was drawing attention to himself and not merely celebrating with his teammates).
In fact, officials whiffed so badly on the play that Rogers Redding, the national coordinator for college football officiating, was quoted in the Daily Oklahoman this summer as saying that Blackmon also deserved an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because he then performed for the crowd after scoring.
You know what two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties would have meant? Automatic ejection from the game.
Wildcats coach Mike Stoops said he knows one penalty should have called, for sure.
“That’s excessive. That’s taunting the other team,” Stoops said of Blackmon’s sideways jaunt. “I thought he taunted us. I didn’t quite understand that. But there are a lot of things I don’t understand.”
Understand that this rule figures to be a hot-button topic at some point in the season. The spirit of the rule is great; the enforcement of it will be haphazard at best.
What looks like taunting to one official won’t appear to be excessive to another.
“It’s like indisputable evidence,” Stoops said, referring to the standards of overturning a call on replay review. “What the hell is indisputable evidence? That can be whatever you want it to be.”
And if this new rule ends up costing a team a game … well, at least it will be good for the tumult and the shouting on sports talk radio.
“It’s a ridiculous rule in my estimation,” Stoops said.
“It’s too excessive for the situations we’re in, and kids at times do get caught up in the emotion of the game.
“There is a difference between taunting and celebrating. Taunting is one thing — you stick the ball in somebody’s face, then I have no remorse for somebody. But somebody who celebrates or accidentally spikes the ball, I don’t know if that’s necessarily showing the other team up.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 17th installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.