By KEVIN PRICE
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a major change last year in how the penalty for taunting in college football games is enforced.
In the past if a player was called for taunting an opponent as he was scoring a touchdown, his team would be penalized on the ensuing kickoff.
That penalty did little to curb any of the “enthusiasm” players were showing in the game, high-stepping or diving into the end zone.
The panel changed the rule last year but decided to wait a year before beginning to enforce it.
Beginning this season, if a player is deemed to be taunting an opponent before he crosses the goal line, then the 15-yard penalty will be enforced from the spot of the foul and the touchdown will be taken off the scoreboard.
If the penalty is called for something that takes place in the end zone, then the 15 yards will still be marked off on the kickoff.
There is certainly a need for the change in the rule. It has gotten to a ridiculous point all the stuff that goes on as players score.
However, there has to be a major concern how this rule is going to be enforced.
Giving the referees yet another judgement call does not inspire a lot of confidence.
As was seen with the call against Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green in a loss to LSU a couple of years ago, the enforcement of this rule varies widely not only from conference to conference but from also within a conference.
Good field, no hit
Is it too early to be concerned about the Braves, who have started the season 7-8.
On one good note, a weakness so far has proven to be a strength. It was thought going into the season that the Braves would struggle to field the ball with Martin Prado moving to left field to make room for Dan Uggla at second base.
During spring training, the Braves averaged right at one error per game. However, during the first 13 games of the regular season, the team has made just six.
Not only have the Braves not made errors, but there has been spectacular play from shortstop Alex Gonzalez and first baseman Freddie Freeman.
But as good as the defense has been, that is how bad the offense has been.
Going into Saturday’s games, the Braves were hitting .223 as a team, 14th in the 16 team National League. What is even more disturbing is the .282 On-Base Average.
Only San Diego at .210 and Washington at .209 were worse.
At the top of the NL batting was Philadelphia at .289. It is probably no coincidence that the Phillies led the Braves by four games.
Brian McCann was hitting .340 and Chipper Jones was at .304 to lead the way. But after that, it is putrid. Jason Heyward was hitting .237, Gonzalez was at .234, Nate McLouth was at .222, Freeman .214 and Uggla .160.
Freeman is a rookie and as long as he plays first base like he has, he can be given a pass.
Heyward, Gonzalez and Uggla will likely find their way into the .260 range before the season is over.
The Braves’ pitching has been solid with a 3.42 ERA. That pitching will allow the Braves to overcome so many mediocre hitters.
A big question is how long the Braves are going to stick with McLouth in center field. Yes, he has a huge contract the Braves would have to eat since it is unlikely McLouth has any trade value at all.
The Braves don’t have enough offense and McLouth’s defense is not good enough for the team to be able to afford to have him hitting .222.
Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, firstname.lastname@example.org