ILH Deserves Another State Berth

Hawaii is enjoying another terrific high school football season statewide. Every now and then we see a situation that screams out for change, and this year is a classic case. The Star-Advertiser‘s poll has Punahou, Kamehameha and Saint Louis as the best three teams in the state, yet only one of them make the state tournament under the current format.

Those who understand the landscape here know how that developed. The public schools feared that they would be underrepresented and insisted on a mathematic formula. While that was a noble goal, it doesn’t seem to make sense that a state tournament designed to find the best team bars the second- and third-ranked teams from competition.

One solution would be an at-large berth (or two) that could expand the field and be more inclusive. That wouldn’t guarantee another spot for the ILH, in practical terms it most often would come from that league. * There already have been dramatic finishes, strange results and odd calls in this young football season, but for serious weirdness, look no further than the Sept. 14 matchup between Arizona State and Wisconsin. In a tight back-and-forth game in Tempe, Arizona State takes a 32-30 lead with about two minutes left to play. Wisconsin begins to move the ball up field, arriving at the ASU 13 yard line with 18 seconds remaining.

Here is where it gets bizarre. Instead of spiking the ball and bringing on the field goal unit, the Badgers coaches order quarterback Joel Stave to run the ball from the hash to the center of the field. He trips on one of his line-man’s feet and touches the ball down on the field as his knee touches the turf, and steps away from the ball. An Arizona State defender thinks fumble and dives on the ball, staying on it for a full seven seconds. Players on both sides are pointing, and another ASU defender steps to the ref and begins discussing the situation with him. The official is in no hurry, as Wisconsin has its offense going off and field goal unit coming on like its Grand Central Station at rush hour. The clock runs out, Arizona State swarms the field and the officials run off. Wisconsin coaches are searching in vain for someone to complain to. Game over. ASU wins.

Last Tuesday, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced the crew that worked the game was in error and would be reprimanded. The ASU player delayed the game by refusing to get off the ball, and the officials did not properly restore the time to allow Wisconsin to try the field goal. The reprimand was small consolation to Badgers first-year coach Gary Andersen, who had to be annoyed that he didn’t just spike the ball initially and have time for his field goal unit to come on and kick. Very odd indeed. * The new rule against targeting, which now results in a player ejection, is somewhat controversial, not only because whether or not targeting occurred is a tough call, but also because the ejection can be overturned by video review, but not the penalty that precipitated the ejection.

If there was no targeting, there should be no penalty.

This rule is in serious need of review!