OU @ Washington, Saturday night on ESPN

Last week’s home game against Cincinnatti was much nicer than the Drenching in the Trenches from week 1: in addition to a lovely 52-26 Sooner victory against a team that never gave up (Cincinnatti scored a touchdown as the game ended and went for 2 on the untimed conversion, but did not succeed), there was no rain! The sun was out with occasional shade from the clouds, the stadium was packed with Sooner fans, and The Pride of Oklahoma did their thing with a show for the fans on the east side of the stadium with three popular hits: Dirty Little Secret by the All-American Rejects, Ocean Avenue, and First Time.

And did I mention that Meredith Sigler twirled three batons that were on fire? On both ends? Yeah, that too. That’s why she’s a champion!

The non-conference schedule picks up again on Saturday with the Sooners’ first road trip—to Seattle, to face the Washington Huskies on their home turf. Most of you probably remember (vividly) the last time OU visited the Pac-10 for a football game

, but there’s been a new controversy this week: last Saturday, Washington scored a touchdown late in the game to pull within one point of visiting BYU, but when quarterback Jake Locker threw the football in the air in celebration, the referees threw the flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting try was therefore spotted from the 17-yard line, not the 2-yard line, making it about a 35-yard attempt—and it was blocked.

Washington fans (and several rabble-rousing sportswriters, as if there is another kind) are convinced that the flag should never have been thrown. Unlike the OU-Oregon debacle of almost exaclty two years ago, though, the Pac-10 says the referees got it right, which has only intensified the controversy.

You can read the 2007 NCAA Football Rules in PDF format here, but the rule in question did not change for 2008. On page FR-122 (page 123 of the PDF file), Section 2, Article 1, section “a” lists “specifically prohibited acts and conduct”. Subsection 2 of that section reads (with emphasis added):

  1. After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot. This prohibits:

    1. Kicking, throwing, spinning or carrying (including off of the field) the ball any distance that requires an official to retrieve it.

    2. Spiking the ball to the ground [Exception: A forward pass to conserve time (Rule 7-3-2-d)].

    3. Throwing the ball high into the air.

    4. Any other unsportsmanlike act or actions that delay the game.

PENALTY—Dead-ball foul. 15 yards [S7, S27] from the succeeding spot. Flagrant offenders, if players or substitutes, shall be disqualified [S47]. If a player or an identified squad member in uniform commits two unsportsmanlike fouls in the same game, he shall be disqualified.

So, basically, the argument is that conduct “specifically prohibited” by rules that explicitly define the offense is somehow not something specifically prohibited and should not have been flagged because other people have broken this rule and gotten away with it. It’s kind of easy to see why the Pac-10 isn’t buying that argument.

Nonetheless, we have the unusual situation of the Sooners visiting a Pac-10 team where both teams are convinced that the Pac-10 referees screwed up and cost them the game “last time” (last week for Washington, last time OU visited the Pac-10 for Oklahoma). You couldn’t get me to officiate that game if you gave me all of McCain’s, Obama’s, Biden’s, and Palin’s houses combined.

The Pride of Oklahoma shall be represented by a 140-member pep band, so look for them on ESPN (and ESPN HD) at 6:45 PM CDT for the national telecast. They should be easy to spot: they’ll be wearing the all-red uniforms debuted during last year’s Macy’s® Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you’re in Seattle, you can catch the pep band at 3:00 PM PDT as part of the OU Alumni Association’s “Boomer Bash” at the UW Baseball Field.

If you’re in the Puget Sound area, we hope you can show up to cheer on the Sooners as they play in a tough venue, and to support The Pride. If not, pull up a chair in front of the teevee at 6:45 PM. BOOMER SOONER!