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Monday, January 3, 2011
Kansas State hoopsters support saluter

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Kansas State receiver Adrian Hilburn made plenty of headlines with his "Bronx Salute," a controversial touchdown celebration that cost the Wildcats 15 yards on a possible game-tying two-point conversion against Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Basketball coach Frank Martin voiced his displeasure at the call over the weekend, and during a win over North Florida, two of his players paid tribute to their penalized classmate.

Jamar Samuels and Wally Judge saluted the crowd during the game, drawing no retribution, of course.
"I want to talk about that," Samuels told reporters after the win. "Please man, I was watching the game and he gave a simple salute. And a penalty for that? I watched the other game (Tennessee vs. North Carolina in the Music City Bowl) too and they gave a salute. No penalty? What's up with that?

"I don't understand why (Hilburn) got the penalty."

Well, like we wrote about at length on Friday, he did break the rule as its written, but the rule's application is certainly up for debate.

The Big 12 has strict rules against coaches commenting on officiating, but Martin was assured that commenting across sports wouldn't get him a call from the commissioner.
"I understand there are rules and I get it. I don't like celebrations. I think that's as selfish as it gets. I think that's a look-at-me [type of thing] and I'm happy those rules are in place. But if saluting is a look-at-me play, that's as bad as it gets.

"And to all my friends at Fort Riley and my guy [Hilburn] that caught the touchdown — I salute them. That's a movement of respect everywhere I've been in my life."

And with that, Martin signaled a salute, stepped off the podium and walked out the door of the press conference.

Judge said the in-game tribute was his idea, and emphasized the family atmosphere within the athletic department. Hilburn, after all, played his home games at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

"As athletes we're all a family at this school so us and the football team are one. That was just something for them — let them know we're still proud of them even with the loss -- they played their hearts out.

"Obviously it didn't go the way they wanted it to but when they get back we're still going to be supportive of them like they support us. That's what the salute was for."

I loved this move from all the Wildcats. Like I've written, I agreed with the call by rule but opposed it in principle. But an already endearing basketball team known for its pregame dances became even more so when it boldly opposed one of the most controversial calls in program history.