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"The Call" Heard Round the Nation

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Days after the Pinstripe Bowl, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty flagged on Adrian Hilburn continues to be the talk well beyond the Wildcat Nation.

The penalty came at the end of a 30-yard touchdown reception by Hilburn against Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl that narrowed the Orange's lead to 36-34 with 73 seconds to play. Hilburn offered a brief salute to the K-State crowd and was penalized 15 yards for what was viewed as excessive celebration.

The two-point conversion try was moved back to the 18-yard line, and K-State's attempt failed giving Syracuse the two-point victory.

Dave Parry oversees officiating for the NCAA and said via an Associated Press story, "It's a judgment call, but technically speaking, such acts that bring attention to yourself, those are fouls. Some people would say it's a little too technical, too marginal, but as it's written, officials are covered by the rule."

Parry added that it's been a point of emphasis for several years that players play with "... good sportsmanship, clean play, no showboating, and no drawing excessive attention to yourself."

He also said that officials are encouraged to "error on the side of good sportsmanship."

While one can point to equal displays of celebration in every game that were not called, to the letter of the football law, Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, who is the chairman of the rules committee, agreed that the call was correct.

Edsall did add, however, ''I do think that there are some inconsistencies maybe between conferences."

While the rule today is only an unsportsmanlike penalty of 15 yards, in 2011 the rule will be strengthened to take the touchdown off the board.

For example, if a player high-steps, or unnecessarily dives into the end zone, or salutes the fans, the penalty will wipe away the score and a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.