|The Story Behind Dwayne Allen's Saluting Penalty|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:21 PM||
Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
#83 6-3, 255
View Full Profile’s touchdown catch against Virginia in 2009 was a memorable one, the former Clemson tight end snaring a 16-yarder from quarterback Kyle ParkerKyle Parker
#11 6-1, 200
View Full Profile and darting into the endzone for a first quarter score.
The game was designated as Military Appreciation Day and Allen, a former Army brat, paid homage to his dad and Clemson’s military history by snapping off a salute to the assembled military in the back of the end zone.
And much to the frustration and ire of Clemson fans was promptly flagged for a celebration penalty and the Tigers were penalized 15 yards. The Tigers kicked off from their own 15-yard line, and Virginia used a 34-yard return to set up the tying touchdown six plays later.
Clemson wound up winning the game, but the penalty has resonated with Clemson fans who feel like Ron Cherry’s crew unfairly targeted Allen and that the penalty, called on Military Appreciation Day, was unwarranted.
In a meeting with the ACC media earlier this week in Greensboro Doug Rhoads, who is the head of the ACC officials, brought up the Allen penalty in proving a point about the celebration rules, and I thought the first part of what he had to say was interesting.
“I knew that there were going to be people who were upset with that call,” Rhoads told TigerNet after the session. “The funny thing is that the week after the game, I went into my office and there was a letter sitting on my desk that was postmarked from Anderson, South Carolina. And I looked at it and said to myself, ‘I bet I know what that is going to say.’ And I was right.”
Rhoads said the letter– from a Clemson fan of course – questioned his hiring practices, his sanity, the sanity of the officials he hires and even whether or not his parents were married when he was born. Rhoads said because it was an actual letter and not an email, he responded back with the specifics of the call.
“We wound up exchanging several letters back and forth,” he said. “In essence, I had a Pen Pal.”
Rhoads said he understood why the fans would be mad at the call, but the officials had to make the call as the NCAA endeavored to clean up the game.
“Several years ago, the NCAA Rules Committee wanted to clean up some parts of the game, and part of that was eliminating some of those acts that they felt were not a part of the game,” he said. “Celebrating is fine – it is an enthusiastic game and the most popular game going and ultimate team sport. It’s why fans like it and you don’t want to stifle celebration.”
I mentioned that Allen wasn’t really celebrating, and Rhoads said that a gesture of almost any kind will draw a flag.
“But the rules are very specific – a player cannot have a prolonged, delayed, excessive or choreographed act by which they draw attention to themselves,” he said. “Then it went to a very specific rule – the slashing of the throat and the six-guns and all of that. As for the salute – we officiate games at the military academies and those kids salute all the time and they go to war, and they don’t salute.”
Rhoads said that eliminating gestures like Allen’s salute weren’t really what was intended when the rule was written – the NCAA was trying to clear up the throat-slashing and derogatory gestures – but that the officials haven’t had to use the rule too often over the past three or four seasons.
“Again, it is unfortunate that we had to do that,” he said. “But we didn’t have many of them. The coaches talked to the players and the players learned and the ones we did, we flagged. Remember, before that we had all of the gestures and the taunting and it helped to clean all of that up.”
There is one final piece to the story, however. Rhoads said that he received emails and letters from fans who said that he and the official who threw the flag were un-American and not very patriotic. The official who threw the flag was back judge Pat Ryan, who is a firefighter in the Washington, D.C. area of Virginia. Ryan was one of the very first responders on the scene on 9/11 when the plane flew into The Pentagon.
|Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment||