ESPN’s Rod Gilmore didn’t exactly call Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky an idiot Saturday night, but he came awfully close.
Wishnowsky ran a fake punt and picked up 19 yards on a fourth-and-17 from his own 27 In the fourth quarter of the Utah-Washington game. The punter celebrated by spiking the ball to earn a 15-yard penalty.
Gilmore responded by saying,“Do you remember the time Peyton Manning called his kicker an idiot?”
Sportscasters don’t usually call college athletes idiots. ESPN staffers avoided words like that Saturday when talking about the Kansas players who refused to shake hands with Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield before that game — or Mayfield’s somewhat obscene words and actions later in the game.
Sportscasters are more blunt about pro players. But calling a college athlete an idiot is not the norm.
And it prompted more idiocy. Including sideline reporter Quint Kessenich’s rather offensively joking that Wishnowsky is a “25-year-old Australian. I don’t think he knows any better.” Which elicited laughter from Gilmore and Mark Jones, who was calling the game.
Jones strenuously argued that Wishnowsky should not have been flagged because his action was “spontaneous.” Even after the replay clearly showed the punter spiking the ball, Jones rather idiotically argued, “That was a mini-spike. Not even a spike.”
Jones referred to the penalty as a “bad call.” Which it was not. Spiking the ball is illegal in college football. Refs are paid to enforce the rules.
Jones could have argued that it’s a bad rule. It wasn’t a bad call.
And Gilmore didn’t budge. Wishnowsky could have celebrated — “I’ve got no problem with him jumping up, pounding his chest” — but the spike was illegal. A rule is a rule, after all.
Jones brought up the 2008 BYU-Washington game in which Huskies QB Jake Locker celebrated scoring a TD with 2 seconds remaining by throwing the ball up in the air — and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Which was “required by rule,” according to the ref. BYU blocked the longer-than-usual extra point attempt and won 28-27.
“The Huskies ended up losing the game because of that,” Jones said.
That makes for a better story, but it’s not accurate. For that to be true, you have to make one of two unprovable assumptions — UW would have converted on a 2-point try and won 29-28 or BYU would not have blocked a “regular” extra point and UW would have won in overtime.
But Gilmore agreed with Jones on this one.
“That was a bad call,” he said. “This was a good call.”
That’s idiotically inconsistent. Gilmore argued that refs should follow the rule in one instance and not the other. He argued that throwing down the ball in celebration is a penalty and throwing the ball up is not.
And then there was the second-to-last play in Saturday’s game, which Utah lost 33-30 on a last-second field goal. Gilmore said he believed Utah DB Julian Blackmon interfered with and/or held UW receiver Dante Pettis.
“There is no question that Blackmon had his hands all over him and was slowing him down, impeding him from getting free,” Gilmore said. “But, you know, I have no problem with letting them play and not deciding the game by a penalty.”
So he’s OK with the ref ignoring that violation, which arguably was hugely more important than flagging Wishnowsky for spiking the ball? Despite the penalty, Utah scored a TD on the drive that Wishnowsky kept alive with the fake punt.
Seems sort of idiotic.
By the way, Manning didn’t call his punter an idiot for anything that happened on the field. Manning referred to Mike Vanderjagt as the Colts’ “idiot kicker” in 2003 after Vanderjagt had criticized Manning in an interview.