First, let’s make this clear right off the top. All congratulations to Syracuse for a much-deserved win over Kansas State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and congratulations to head coach Doug Marrone for having what was once a moribund football program headed in the right direction.
That team and that coach deserves a ton of credit for what they’ve accomplished in 2010.
That said, the officials blew it. Absolutely, utterly blew it. For the first 59 minutes, Syracuse-Kansas State was turning into arguably the best bowl game of the year. Then, the officials tripped over their own junk and/or egos and/or rule books.
With just over a minute to play in the fourth quarter, KSU quarterback Carson Coffman connected with Adrian Hillborn on a 30-yard touchdown pass that brought the Wildcats to within a successful two-point conversion of tying the game 38-all… but, wait. In the immediate aftermath of the touchdown, Hillborn gave a military-style salute to the crowd. That was it, just a simple salute that wasn’t of the single-digit variety. And he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The penalty pushed the two-point conversion that could’ve sent the game into overtime back 15 yards, leaving the Wildcats with little chance of converting. Of course, they didn’t, and Syracuse drained the remaining 1:13 off the clock to come away with a 38-36 win.
Again, all credit to the Syracuse players and coaching staff; this blatant display of ignorance on the part of the officiating crew did not cost Kansas State the game. It sure helped decide it, though, and that should never, ever happen, especially on such a nitpick call at the end of what was a great college football game.
Hillborn was flagged for supposedly bringing attention to himself. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what the zebras did with their lack of discretion and understanding of the situation.
So, congrats Trigger-Happy Officiating Guy. And, as a reward for your professionalism, I’m saluting you as well; guess how many fingers I’m holding up…