Last night. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl in it's inaugural debut. Played at Yankee Stadium. Yep, that Yankee Stadium. The Kansas State Wildcats vs the Syracuse Orangemen. It was a back and forth battle, with neither defense able to consistently contain the opposing offense. In the closing minutes of the game, K-State was behind 36 to 28 - eight points behind. A touchdown and a two point conversion. With 1:13 left, Carson Kaufman, the Wildcat QB, lobbed a pass to Adrian Hilburn, Wildcat WR - which you see in the video. By the bye, that end zone was where most of the K-State fans were congregated. Hilburn's brief salute was considered excessive celebration:
"Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player attempts to focus attention on himself (or themselves)."
Fifteen yard penalty, enforced on the PAT attempt. The Wilcats didn't succeed in the two point conversion. Syracuse took over and ran the clock out.
The referees were Big 10. They also covered the Music City Bowl, Tennessee Volunteers vs the North Carolina Tar Heels. Tennessee players routinely made throat cutting motions after plays at the Tar Heel bench and saluting. Were they called out by the same conference refs?
After the game, I heard one of the color commentators, who was a former referee, field a question from his broadcast partner. He was asked if the penalty was appropriate. The former ref said he would have warned the player rather than throwing the flag, considering the circumstances.
Now, if K-State had dominated the game, this would not be an issue. They had plenty of opportunities to take control and failed to do so - because Syracuse was a well matched opponent. Conversely, Syracuse had similar chances to put the Wildcats away and couldn't do it, either. And it's impossible to say whether the Wildcats would have scored those two points to put the game into overtime if they didn't have to overcome the fifteen yard penalty, much less win in overtime.
However, to change the game with a judgment call that definitely displayed excessive, finicky pickiness against a "visiting" team in a bowl game instead of letting the players settle it between themselves?