"Fumblerooski" Was Banned By NCAA Following 1992 Season

Published on October 31st, 2023 2:39 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Fumblerooski explained.  The meaning of the term when it comes to the game of American football.  Illustration. Following the completion of the 1992 season, the NCAA decided to ban the infamous "Fumblerooski" play.

Here is how the "Fumblerooski" works:

After taking the snap from the center, the quarterback immediately places the ball on the ground.

The quarterback will pretend that they still have the ball, and may pretend to hand it off or even step back to throw, in an attempt to confuse the defense.

While the defense is tracking the quarterback or running back, a predetermined offensive player will pick up the ball that is still on the ground and attempt to take advantage of a confused deal by running down the field.

This is the "Fumblerooski".


One of the first documented "Fumblerooskis" was executed by the University of Tennessee in 1930. Tennessee was struggling on offense, and they executed the "Fumblerooski" to perfection, confusing the defense for a long gain.

The "Fumblerooski" was used more often in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Nebraska successfully ran the play in the 1984 Orange Bowl game against Miami.

Oklahoma successfully ran the play in the 1988 Orange Bowl game against Miami.

In the early 1990s, before the play was banned, teams such as Tulane, Florida State and Nebraska all attempted the "Fumblerooski" during a game.


Following the completion of the 1992 season, NCAA officials elected to ban the "Fumblerooski" by stating that intentional fumbles were now illegal (the NFL had a similar rule that was in place since the 1960s).

Students of the game, however, point out that the "Fumblerooski" is still technically legal, provided that the quarterback fumbles the ball BEHIND himself, and not in front.

Fumbling behind themselves, however, is much harder to pull off than simply dropping the snap from the center, which is why you don't see the "Fumblerooski" attempted much anymore.


There are variations of the "Fumblerooski" which are still legal, including the "Bumerooski", which is named after Bum Phillips and involves a quarterback handing the ball off to a player between his legs.

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