- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2011

Maryland punt returner Tony Logan punctuated perhaps his finest moment last season - a touchdown against Duke - by firing the ball through the end zone and drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his celebration.

It was an issue Logan had no desire to repeat in the first place. But with a tweaked rule that permits officials to wipe out touchdowns if a celebration begins before the player crosses the goal line, there’s even more incentive to avoid such a predicament.

Instead of learning from a coach or teammate, Logan found out about the change from his father.

“He said ‘You know you can’t celebrate anymore; they’re going to bring the touchdown back,’ ” said Logan, whose Terrapins opened their season Monday against Miami in a game that ended too late for this edition. “It’s a rule they put in. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.”

Logan’s issue is primarily tied to a desire to celebrate with teammates, a common sentiment among players who may not necessarily be thrilled rule 9-2-1 now states “infractions for these [unsportsmanlike conduct] acts by players are administered as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls depending on when they occur.”

Coincidentally, Maryland’s new coach had a say in getting the reworded rule passed. Randy Edsall was a member of the NCAA’s football rules committee when it recommended the change.

“It really just gets back to you can celebrate,” Edsall said. “You can have fun. But do it with your team, because if you get in the end zone, it’s not because of what you did. It’s because of what other people did to allow you to get there. It wasn’t a situation where we said ‘Guys can’t enjoy the game,’ but when no one’s around and you take a flip into the end zone, that’s only calling attention to yourself.”

The rule didn’t have a major impact in the first week of the regular season. Doug Rhoads, the ACC’s coordinator of officials, said there were no applications of the adjusted rule in his conference before Monday’s Maryland-Miami game.

Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties have drawn attention sporadically in recent years. Then-Washington quarterback Jake Locker was flagged for tossing the ball high in the air after scoring in the final seconds of a 2008 game against Brigham Young. The Huskies’ 35-yard extra point attempt was blocked, and the Cougars escaped with a 28-27 victory.

In last year’s Pinstripe Bowl, Kansas State’s Adrian Hilburn earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after scoring a touchdown to pull the Wildcats to 36-34 late in the fourth quarter against Syracuse. Kansas State failed on the ensuing long two-point try and lost .

Both situations generated controversy, but wiping out a score at any moment - let alone an end-game scenario in a close contest - surely would draw more attention to the rule.

Nonetheless, Miami coach Al Golden pointed out an easy way for a team to avoid such a headache.

“I always say the NCAA can make all the rules they want, but if you go and find a player, a teammate, to celebrate with every time you make a big play, you’ll never get in trouble,” Golden said. “So you can say I didn’t know the rule or I thought it was this or I thought it was that, but the reality is the expectation for a Miami Hurricane is they find their teammates when they make a big play.”

A similar standard is in place at Maryland. Edsall, who said it would be interesting to see if any penalties occur as a result of the changes this season, said he reinforced the tweak last week by showing the Terps a video explaining all of this year’s rules changes.

For his part, Logan probably didn’t need the reminder.

“I don’t think there should be a rule against guys celebrating, especially if you’re celebrating with your teammates,” Logan said. “That’s the rule they put in and I’m definitely cognizant of it. I definitely won’t be celebrating with Edsall [around] regardless. I haven’t been on his bad side ever yet. He’s never yelled at me or had anything negative to say, so I don’t want him to ever have to see me be selfish.”



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