It was just a simple salute. As he raced into the end-zone, finally making the clutch play that the Wildcats needed, Adrian Hilburn lifted his hand up to his forehead and with that quick motion he put his team in a very bad position. 15 yards back to be exact. For the moment it was just a simple movement directed towards the stands but once that yellow flag hit the ground Hilburn's salute became infamous.
Don't let the hype fool you though folks. Was the excessive celebration call, well, excessive? Yes, it was a bad call. It reminded me of the same penalty against Washington's Jake Locker last season. It's a completely subjective call and like K-state quarterback Carson Coffman said after the game, 'They (Syracuse players) were throwing up 'the rock' when they scored. But they got us, we know we aren't supposed to do it...but I think it was a bogus call.' But was that the only reason Kansas State lost to Syracuse? Not a chance.
That simple salute apparently wiped away the short-term memory of every media member and fan in attendance and anyone watching on tv. Did everyone just conveniently forget that horrific fake field goal call? And what about K-state's defense? I distinctly recall Tysyn Hartman getting absolutely owned by Orange running back Delone Carter. And directly after Hartman was unable to bring down Carter by himself, Syracuse ran a flea flicker and racked up a 52 yard touchdown. How about the onside kick where there were not one but two penalties on the 'Cats? Kansas state gave up over 500 yards of offense against Syracuse. That loses a game, not an excessive celebration call.
To me, the reason why this game was so great is because of the future we saw with the Wildcats. Wichita native and Oregon transfer Chris Harper had 5 receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. With his fellow Wichitans, Arthur Brown, Bryce Brown and Demarcus Robinson, the Cats look to have some solid pieces returning for next year. Of course, Kansas State does lose a whole lot more than just this bowl game.
Daniel Thomas. Aubrey Quarles. Adrian Hilburn. Josh Cherry. There are a lot of seniors who just finished their careers with a heartbreaking loss. Frustrating was the word that the players used the most. Bitter. Emotional. Adrian Hilburn's infamous salute gaffe may be what people would like to believe lost the game for Kansas State, but these 'Cats players knows they have only themselves to blame for this one.