You're Busted!: The 10 Most Penalized Teams in College Football

Mitch Wilson@sportschatplaceSenior Writer IAugust 11, 2009

DALLAS - OCTOBER 7:  Detail of the yellow flag thrown by a referee during the Red River Shootout between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 7, 2006 in Dallas, Texas. The Longhorns won 28-10. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The officiating in College Football gets progressively worse every year. I write about it often and I'm sure this year will be no different.

Officiating affects outcomes of football games, as a single call or missed call can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Most head coaches seemed to have mastered the art of how to ride an official properly in hopes to be the beneficiary of better calls.

When most of these same coaches are asked what the biggest difference makers are, they all usually give the same answers: turnovers and penalties.

While turnovers are mistakes and part of the game which usually come from simply trying too hard, penalties can be one of the most frustrating things to watch for coaches, players, and fans alike.

As many coaches point to penalties as part of the problem and something they must overcome, the stats tell us something totally different, the most penalized teams are often the best teams.

Let's look at the top ten most penalized teams from last season.


10. BYU, 101 Penalties for 912 Yards

I never thought of BYU as a dirty team and I still don't. What I do know from watching them often is a road game usually means a boatload of penalties against the Cougars.

I watched a game at Tulsa a few years ago where it just seemed like there was a penalty on every play and every one of them was against BYU. At the time I thought the refs just wanted Tulsa to win, now I know better.

I know BYU just gets penalized an average of over eight times a game and since they don't get penalized nearly as much at home, double-digit penalties are something to figure in when prognosticating the Cougars road games.


7. (Tie) Florida State, 102 Penalties for 937 yards

It's no coincidence that Bobby Bowden always has a pained look on his face when they do those halftime interviews with the head coaches before they head into the locker room. Bowden's Seminoles are a mainstay on this list.

Last year, FSU had a pretty solid excuse as they were one of the youngest and least experienced teams in the country. Top it off with running a complicated offense in a loud stadium and it's a tough combination for anyone.


7. (Tie) Oklahoma, 102 Penalties for 905 yards

Maybe the officials still have it in for Bob Stoops for how silly he made them look when they blew the onside kick call a few years ago against Oregon. No matter what the reason, last year's runner ups were among the top ten most penalized teams in the country.

Of course, the Sooners did have a conference championship game which means they played one more than most of the country.

While penalties may be drive-killers for some, I think they just gave the Sooners more yards to rack up as they gained enough during Sam Bradford's Heisman season.


7. (Tie) Florida, 102 Penalties for 838 yards

So much for penalties being the difference. Last years National Champions were penalized plenty.

Because of the low yardage for the number of penalties, we can safely say that many were motion penalties and the like as Florida's offensive scheme just has a lot of moving parts.

Since both members of last year's BCS Title Game each had 102 total penalties, maybe some coaches should put that number out in their goals for this season.


6.USC, 103 Penalties for 948 yards

No bias against the West Coast teams on my lists, the Trojans weigh in at number six in 13 games. That's one game less than both Florida and Oklahoma.

Pete Carroll's bunch loves to celebrate and always just seem like a happy bunch of kids, maybe they get a little too happy sometimes.

This list seems to be loaded with the best offensive and defensive units so it's no wonder USC is on it as they are solid on both sides of the ball.


5. Florida International, 105 Penalties for 799 yards

The Golden Panthers have three things that distinguish them from all other teams in the top ten in penalties: They are the only ones not to make it to a bowl game, they have the fewest yards penalized for, and they did it in the fewest games, 12.

With all of this being said, FIU made pretty big strides in the right direction last year winning the most games in school history. They also showed signs that the local talent, even the leftovers, are as good if not better than anywhere else in the country.

In looking at the company FIU is keeping on this list, they look to be an up and comer and a team to watch out for.


4. South Florida, 111 Penalties for 882 yards

Coach Jim Leavitt started his program in a trailer and now has a team usually ranked among the top 25. While the Bulls are now winners, they haven't always got the benefit of calls in their favor.

Here's a theory. If you have a scrambling QB like Matt Grothe who is always looking to make things happen, you are going to have a lot of penalties.

I think holds and illegal men downfield are just by-products of a QB who knows the play isn't over until the ref blows the whistle.


3. Georgia, 112 penalties for 938 yards

Two years ago, at the Cocktail Party Georgia Coach Mark Richt's Bulldogs took one of the most blatant celebration penalties of all time when the entire Georgia bench left the sidelines and celebrated a touchdown in the end zone. Last season, Richt would have done anything to avoid the flags.

Let's just say Matt Stafford wasn't the best leader and and he was a big part of the problem. He often looked confused and this couldn't help but wear off on his team mates.

Georgia needs to play better against the Florida's and Alabama's of the world, and if that means less or more penalties, Dawg fans are probably willing to do whatever it takes.


2. TCU, 115 Penalties for 1000 yards

Like many of the great defenses of all time, one of the only ways to move the ball against the Horned Frogs is by penalty. I love hard hitting and watched TCU plenty. I saw many of the out-of-bounds hits they were laying on their opponents.

Part of a wrecking crew defense is the intimidation factor and the Frogs played the role well last season.

They set the tone early in games and while many people confuse it with taunting or being cocky, it's just part of being fired up and sending the other team a message.


1. Hawaii, 122 Penalties for 1097 yards

This one doesn't have much of a logical reason as to how they ended up here but maybe the Rainbow Warriors were upset that more than half the country was asleep when they played some of their home games. Whatever the reason, Hawaii was the king of the penalty last season.

We can only guess that the coaching change and offensive changes along with a few different QB's contributed to this number. While Hawaii started very low last season, they managed to go to a bowl despite the four digit yardage allowed number in penalties.

Visit Mitch anytime at The Sports Chat Place


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