Call it like you see it: K-State got jobbed in Pinstripe Bowl


It's no secret football referees at the college and pro level have made an effort to crack down on excessive celebrations in the end zone the past couple of years.

No more Terrell Owens sharpies, Chad Ochocinco playing golf or Joe Horn making a call on his cell phone after touchdowns.

All the more reason Thursday's Pinstripe Bowl, a 36-34 Syracuse victory over Kansas State in New York, had one of the more disappointing conclusions to a game that I've seen in some time.

With Kansas State trailing by eight, receiver Adrian Hilburn caught a simple pass near the sideline, made a Syracuse cornerback miss a tackle and outraced the rest of the Orange secondary to the endzone. It was only the second touchdown Hilburn, a senior from New Braunfels, Texas, had ever scored.

Shortly after crossing the end zone, the referees inexplicably flagged Hilburn for one simple salute to the crowd. Worst excessive celebration call I've ever seen:

That's all it took. A simple salute. You know, the same sort of thing Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor does after momentum-swinging dunks. The same sort of thing Denver Broncos players do after scoring touchdowns at Invesco Field at Mile High.

Ref, please.

Excessive celebration calls are not rocket science. They're obvious. That's why it's deemed excessive. If a knucklehead does anything ridiculous after scoring a touchdown that draws attention to himself, it's a 15-yard penalty. Simple enough. Fair enough.

Except the way the referees treated Hilburn was anything but fair. Hilburn told reporters after the game that the referee told him, "Wrong choice, buddy," for his salute.

Come on.

Both the head linesman and the back judge threw flags after Hilburn saluted the crowd.

“These kinds of excessive celebrations have been a priority in the rulebook for the last several years,” Big Ten referee Todd Geerlings told reporters after the game. “There’s a whole page in the rulebook pertaining to sportsmanship.”

Did anyone watch Oklahoma State rout Arizona in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night? Justin Blackmon broke free for a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter and proceeded to sprint along the goal line, as if to taunt Arizona defenders, for several yards before finally breaking the plane to the end zone. Funny thing about that? No flag.

Or how about Tennessee wide receiver Gerald Jones scoring a touchdown in Thursday night's Music City Bowl, doing a wacky dance, then saluting twice? Common theme here? You guessed it. Again, no flag.

Consider me beyond puzzled.

I'm not saying Kansas State would have won without the flag. The Wildcats, who trailed by two points after the touchdown, would have had to convert the two-point conversion, hold Syracuse for the final minute of regulation and outplay the Orange in overtime.

Instead, K-State had to attempt a two-point conversion from the 17-yard line. Odds for conversion, not so great.

The Wildcats deserved a much better chance at extending that game. They were jobbed, plain and simple.

What did you think? As always, discuss.


Brian Friess 7 years, 4 months ago

bad call.....horribly bad....but WHO CARES???!!!!!

rockchalkblock 7 years, 4 months ago

People can harp on this call all they want, but selfish Snyder did call a fake field goal when down 5 and could have made it a 2 point game and then wouldn't of needed a 2 point conversion. So I could care less about the call there are always things you could have done better to not put yourself in that situation. Just like Syracuse going for two with 10 mins left in the game.. they could have been up 9 at the end of the game and that call really wouldn't of meant anything seeing how KSU didn't kick the onside far enough in the first place... So lets not make a stink about one call the officials made at the end of the game.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 4 months ago

good points--

i don't think snyder was being selfish by not kicking the field goal. his kicker had already missed one field goal...the conditions for placekicking were horrible because the field was soaked from the snow.

snyder was playing the odds, just as any good coach would. at that point in time, he felt more confident that his o would get him the yards he needed. it backfired.

holtzymal 7 years, 4 months ago

What's going to get lost in all of this are two very important things:

1) K-State couldn't take advantage of the fact that Syracuse missed a PAT that ultimately would have made that 2-point conversion pointless, no pun intended.

2) Even if the penalty isn't called, it still only gives K-State an OPPORTUNITY to TIE the game. People other places are reacting as if the penalty cost KSU the game. NO, it only cost them the OPPORTUNITY TO TIE the game.

P.S. - What a great three days for KU football fans! We aren't in a bowl, but we get to watch our two rivals lose gutwrentching games in which they were favored.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 4 months ago

p.s.s. it's better for our conference if our rivals win these games. but i really loved seeing missouri lose.

MarkCPA 7 years, 4 months ago

Keywords: "watch" or "aren't in a bowl game"

Get used to watching bowl peaked with Fatmangino!

LAJayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Chalmer's shot only TIED the game. Yet, it's generally thought of as the game winner. That's because we had clear momentum heading into overtime. If K-State converts the two point play (possible from the 2.5 yard line, basically impossible from the 17), they would have had the momentum.

Not saying they win, and I'm not saying they couldn't have done other things to put themselves in a better position, but it was a terrible call and it ruined a good game.

In watching the replay of the salute, I was wondering if he would have done a quick salute instead of dragging it out for a few more seconds, would he still get the flag.... have a feeling that extra second or two made the difference. Either way, terrible call.

lv_jhwk 7 years, 4 months ago

I've never been one to say the outcome of a game can be decided by one call from an official/referee, and I'm not about to start now. Too many other what-ifs occur throughout a game (starting with the fake field goal call in this contest) to make that argument valid.

However, I will draw a bit of correlation with the end of the KU-UCLA basketball game, specifically the premise that a foul (flag in this case) is a foul (flag) regardless of when it occurs. By this line of thought, the officials, both of them, made, a correct call...but only if it was truly a penalty in the first place! The actions in the NC-Tenn game, as Eric points out, surely throw that last part into question.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 4 months ago

+1 re: ucla/ku game. great point. a penalty is a penalty. ksu had many opportunities to change the outcome of the game....namely, not letting syracuse run all over them the entire game.

waywardJay 7 years, 4 months ago

Any of us sports fans know New Yorkers are Quirky. They have peculiar sensabilities about them, They like respect, and F you if they think you are mocking them. They love their Yankees, Bemoan their Jets, Overhype their Giants, and unless they are good they ignore their Rangers and Knicks. They love it when their Orangemen are good, because despite the talent pool St. John's, and Manhattan are terrible.

Furthermore, the salute is a largely Military tradition. A salute in the military is meant as a sign of respect or potentially submissive behavior. If a Saulte is intented sarcastically, or in a derrogatory manner, it is considered incredibly offensive.

I'm not saying the Officials are right, but Imagine for a second some kid from Texas ( another place known for having not only aggradnizing tendancies but is huge on respect and also known for it's traditional dislike of Northerners, specifically New Yorkers.... ) said something disrespectful to you.... or did something disrepectful to you..... Would you be able to hold your tongue? If you had the power to, would you punish him in such a way ?

My point is, It's not for us fans to determine what is and what is not "excessive" or "Taunting".... What might be considered acceptable in some areas, could be considered offensive in others.....

DO i perosnally think the kid did something wrong, Yes, He chose K-state. Do I think the taunting was excessive? of course not.

"Wrong Choice, Buddy." To me means that one of these two officials were seriously offended by this action, which in some ways I could see. Could he have gotten a way with a little jig ? or spiking the football and pirohetting? or Slamming on the goalpost ? Who knows, But I don't think this kid's Salute cost K-state this game.

blackwel 7 years, 4 months ago

I promise you this salute was only meant as respectful and sincere. Manhattan KS is right next door to Fort Riley and has a military influence on some of the community.

waywardJay 7 years, 4 months ago

I honestly don't doubt it, but whatever his intentions. They flagged him for it, the officials were flipped by it.

It honestly sucks do have such a big play immediately over shadowed by such a big negative but it happens.

They might have thought he was saluting the guy he just burned.... Who knows what they were thinking...

Dustin Engelken 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey! Take it easy on my Jaspers. We're "rebuilding" :)

Anyway, living in NY, the rest is pretty spot-on. Interesting finish to say the least..

waywardJay 7 years, 4 months ago

just calling it like i see it. Every year there is great talent in New York that does not go to Syracuse, and it rarrely if ever ends up in Manhattan or St. johns......

I mean really.... Ron Artest was the last great johnnie.....Felipe was the last great to stay home.....

jesusisajhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

That call was absolutely ridiculous! When the flag came down I thought it was going to be on the Syracuse defender for pushing the K-State guy well after he crossed the goal line. It would be one thing to me if he was saluting in the direction of the defender, but he was saluting the fans in the stands. Really uncalled for especially at the end of the fourth quarter of a bowl game with the score that close.

ahpersecoachingexperience 7 years, 4 months ago

two words. . .vegas baby!

i didn't play it but it look like the "wise guys" had their hands all over this one.

Sean Rodger 7 years, 4 months ago

It'll give ksu's d-bag fan base somthing to talk about.

OldOldHawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Big-10 officials are inconsistent, arbitrary, and capricious clowns and ruined a great game.

patrick_e 7 years, 4 months ago

If this happened to KU, I would want to kill someone.

Hawk1969 7 years, 4 months ago

ksu deserved what the call...glad they lost. Officiating didn't kill the kitties, poor coaching did.

Hawk1969 7 years, 4 months ago

ksu deserved what the call...glad they lost. Officiating didn't kill the kitties, poor coaching did.

MrPilot 7 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely hilarious! The only way it would be more awesome is if it happened to Mizzou.

johnnyphoton 7 years, 4 months ago

Problem is, Mizzou fans are accustomed to getting jobbed. This has more of a new car smell to it.

jaydee909 7 years, 4 months ago

I know it's one thing to want your rival to lose, not a problem. But come on now, if that call had taken place against us, you would be livid. Some of you need to show some class and not stoop to a level of some of our rivals. What the K-State player did should not have drawn a flag.

AirCapJay 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree. I was rooting for KSU to win. I always root for KU, WSU, K-State, state of Kansas schools, Big 12 schools in that order. (KU and WSU tie for my rooting energy I guess).

stravinsky 7 years, 4 months ago

Despite the NCAA claims to the contrary, what the blue bloods can get away with and what everyone else can get away with is so obviously completely different. Obviously they've changed their emphasis over the past few years, but how many times did Reggie Bush flip into the end zone with no call? Yet poor Pendleton gets a 15-yard penalty, is consequently eaten by Mangino, and has never been seen again (only slight exaggeration. Seriously, what happened to that guy). And even people on the inside know: one compliance director, when asked by ESPN's Bruce Feldman "If, hypothetically, these same violations were committed by players at Arizona or NC State, do you think they'd be allowed to play in the bowl game?

His answer: "Hell no.""

Obviously this is a place slightly biased against KSU, and it's true that one call shouldn't be given the blame for a loss, but the referees messed this one up. He didn't try to bribe the ref with a dollar bill or pull a cell phone out from behind a pylon (funny, the only examples I can think of are from Chad). He saluted to the fans. If that's excessive celebration, they need to start flagging just about every touchdown, because that's pretty mild. Hillburn didn't make a scene, he didn't taunt the opposing team, he didn't delay the continuation of the game -- he pretty mildly celebrated his second collegiate touchdown.

Just another example of NCAA inconsistency. Unfortunately, despite how much NCAA shenanigans irk the average fan, they have no reason to care -- we're not going to stop watching, so they have no incentive to take responsibility and change their arrogant ways.

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 4 months ago

I tell you what, I work with a lot of K-State fans and alums. I get so much crap from them for being a KU fan that after a while, I say to myself---"what comes around, goes around." When Chuckberry says he gets crap from the Kentucky Blue Faithful for being a KU alum/fan living in Lexington, I feel for him. Same thing here. Where I work, not too many KU fans around. Yea, the call was a hoser. What a bummer for K-State. Kind of like the Geico commercial where the drill sargent throws the klinnex box at his client. I am not shedding one tear. End of story.

milehighhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Garbage call.

The only possible justification I can think of is that the ref who called it came in from the side and may have thought it was directed at the Syracuse player. That's IT.

kcglowboy 7 years, 4 months ago

You're right on, Eric. Even if the call was technically correct, everything about it stunk, for the same reason that UCLA had good reason to be upset with the game-ending, game-changing foul called in AFH. Good officials in any sport are aware of game situations, and they absolutely don't want a borderline/iffy flag or whistle to decide a game.

K-State and Syracuse played the most exciting game of an otherwise dreadful bowl season, a rare lower-tier bowl game worth watching and worth remembering. But thanks to the over-zealous, brain-dead officials, this game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

And to those who blame bad coaching -- remember that at the point K-State tried the fake field goal, their defense hadn't made a stop the entire half. It was reasonable for Snyder to think he HAD to get 6. Throw in the fact that field conditions made kicking tricky, and it wasn't an "awful" decision.

Anyway, thanks Cats for giving us a thrilling game. And fellow KU fans: gloating over this is pretty pathetic, considering our season.

AirCapJay 7 years, 4 months ago

The difference with the UCLA game comparison is that a real foul did occur against Little in the UCLA game. Excessive celebration is a subjective thing. It is not cut and dried like when Little was physically fouled at the end of the game.

Sparko 7 years, 4 months ago

It was a crazy and silly call. The most marginal call I can remember in some time at such a juncture. These types of things are an affront to fans. NYC is such an expensive stop for KSU fans, and then to have a really petty call have such an impact. Wow. And the fake FG reminded me of KU in 1969 going for the first down rather than the winning kick. Still. Awful, awful officiating.

kesmithstl1 7 years, 4 months ago

such a bogus call! The Tennessee kids were doing it after every play, but nothing was called. It's another one of those yeah it's in the rule book, but that is not the time to call it. Bad way to end a good game.

haydenhawkco 7 years, 4 months ago

He got what he deserved for that hand gesture - that was not a salute. "Too many men far better than you have executed that courtesy. If you're smart, you won't try it again" LTC Frank Slade

texashawk10 7 years, 4 months ago

It's a bad rule that was inconsistently called during the game. I believe a Syracuse player earlier in the game did a "Superman" hand sign after scoring a TD and wasn't flagged for that. I'm fine with calling the penalty against KState, but if the refs are going to make that call, then call it consistently throughout the game like the SEC officials did this year. It still doesn't change my opinion about it being a bad rule, I just want to see consistency from the officials. This was probably the second best bowl game so far behind the Insight Bowl (not just because Misery lost), and had KState gotten a fair shot at the two point conversion and gotten it, this game could've gone for a few OT's and gone down as one the best bowl games in recent memory.

johnzo223 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree, texashawk10. Consistency within the game is the biggest issue.

Take a look at ESPN's video recap. Pause the screen right at 1:03 (Syracuse's first touchdown).

Had the refs flagged that, no problems or controversy. Yes, of course, other decisions were made throughout the game that contribute to the outcome just as much. However, inconsistent calling is a contributing factor that should not be added by the officials.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 4 months ago

don't salute the stands when you are losing.

wanted the pussycats to win......but they did everything they could to lose it for themselves.

TommySmithElbow 7 years, 4 months ago


Appreciated the article, even though I didn't agree with your assessment. TWO officials threw flags at the same time, and even K-State QB Coffman said: “It’s something you can’t do, we know that." Hilburn's immaturity and showboating, albeit in the action of the moment, when he should have been focused on the task at hand of winning the game, proved deadly.

Regardless of all of the different perspectives on this call, when you said "Worst excessive celebration call I've ever seen", I've got an example that was FAR WORSE than this. You might remember it, but it was Jake Locker of Washington scoring at the end of the BYU game in 2008. While you can argue both sides of Hilburn's actions, this one was ridiculous. Here's the video clip:

Just when you think you've seen just about everything!

Again, thanks for the article, Eric!

bg_duck1 7 years, 4 months ago

It's obvious isn't it? BigTen refs doing a game with a Big12 team and they are going to make calls against the Big12 team b/c of the conference realignment fiasco from this summer and all the bad/negative publicity nebrasska got for leaving so the BigTen took it out on Kstate. Terrible call and as Eric pointed out with this article how do you flag the kstate guy but not Blackmon or the Tennessee guy?

actorman 7 years, 4 months ago

"Even if the call was technically correct, everything about it stunk, for the same reason that UCLA had good reason to be upset with the game-ending, game-changing foul called in AFH."

That's by far the most ridiculous comment here. There is simply NO comparison between the two. The only similarity is that they both occurred at the end of the game. As AirCapJay pointed out, UCLA did commit a foul, as most people would agree; it wasn't a case of a judgment call like a celebration penalty.

The biggest argument people have made against the UCLA call is about when it was made, not the call itself. On the other hand, the problem with the celebration call was not because it was made at the end of the game, it was that it was an unfair call that's not enforced consistently.

To KCglowboy, I'll ask what I asked in the thread after the UCLA game: when is the "appropriate" time to call a foul that actually was a foul? Would it have been okay to call it with 5.2 seconds left? With 13.9 seconds left? Is there some arbitrary line in time after which it is impermissible to ever call a foul, even when it actually happens? And ilf so, why bother to even have refs out there at that point in the game? I'll never cease to be amazed at the complete lack of logic by those who say that a call shouldn't decide a game. Either something is a foul or it isn't, end of story.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

I hate KState and Im glad it happened.

jmkenny 7 years, 4 months ago

Whatever happened to "when you get in the endzone, act like you've been there before"? Get in there, hand the ball to the ref, celebrate on the sideline. Problem solved.

bad_dog 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, he had only been there once before...

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 4 months ago

Jmkenny--- That's pretty simple!!!!! Someone said to me, "How do you not get a speeding ticket?" Answer: "Don't speed!"

jayhawkintx73 7 years, 4 months ago

I remember in the Orange Bowl when Aqib Talib was flagged for highstepping into the endzone on his pick 6. We still won the game. K-State, that one play didn't cause you to lose. Maybe it was the fact you couldn't stop them from scoring?

jayhawkintx73 7 years, 4 months ago

The timing of when something like that occurs is irrelevant. The rule is there, and our team has been flagged for diving into the endzone and other times. Just don't do it, and you won't get flagged. The rules are there, so don't do it.

fansincewilt 7 years, 4 months ago

If it is a rule, why are the calls not consistent? This tells me that this rule is subjective - quite unlike a face mask or the sort. Refs are obviously given leniency in this area. It is best to not do it. However, since this was the only call of its kind in the bowl games as far as I know, I think it had more to do with conferences than the act. What was the NCAA thinking when they put Big 10 refs in a Big 12 contest? I felt sorry for Coach Snyder who has done another masterful job at K-State this year. He is quite the man.

Greg Lux 7 years, 4 months ago

As Forrest Gump would say .. Stupid is as stupid does .. Why push it .. Why take the chance .. just plain stupid and If you agree or disagree with the call.. Hilburn had control and he took a chance with a stupid salute that cost his team because he took a chance and didn't think first. Most coaches will tell their players if theres a chance don't do it ...

My opinion is we need to can the whole politically correct $hit and get back to playing the game with respect for both teams .. celebrations are part of sports .. nothing wrong with it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.