Purdue linebacker Jalen Graham had a pick-six against Northwestern on Saturday. It just didn’t count because he had too much fun.
Graham was penalized for “high-stepping” into the end zone on the play that gave Purdue a three-score lead for a moment. Here’s the play in its entirety. You be the judge if Graham was celebrating too much.
Sooo... Purdue had a pick six erased because LB Jalen Graham was high stepping from the 30 yard line and the refs called him for unsportsmanlike conduct 😭😭
Such a lame call. 👎 pic.twitter.com/RG78iUBnQx
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) November 19, 2022
The penalty was even specifically for Graham’s steps.
Purdue interception return for a TD taken off the board, for “high stepping”. Coach Prime would be aghast pic.twitter.com/r96shnUta7
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) November 19, 2022
College football’s rules allow officials to penalize players who celebrate on their way to touchdowns. It’s a ridiculous idea that prevents players from having fun — this is a game after all — and puts too much pressure on officiating crews to determine what is and isn’t an appropriate level of celebration as a defender like Graham is enjoying something that doesn’t happen all that often.
In this case it’s blatantly obvious that the officiating crew interpreted the rule a little too literally. There have been unflagged celebrations much stronger than that all across college football this season. Thinking that Graham’s celebration crosses an unnecessary line is asinine.
Thankfully for Purdue, the Boilermakers had the lead already when Graham picked the ball off. But the penalty did cost Purdue points. The Boilermakers didn’t get into the end zone after the ball was spotted at the 35 thanks to a missed field goal. Purdue went on to win the game 17-9 and move to 7-4.