College Football: Unnecessary Roughness

This week’s college football rules quiz question is here: How many times in the 211-page NCAA Football 2013 and 2014 Rules and Interpretations does the phrase “Unnecessary Roughness” occur?

1)  17;

2)  3;

3)  62;

4)  All of the above.

If you guessed #2, you are correct.

I was surprised that the phrase occurred so few times, as I hear it frequently during the football season.  I was not, however, surprised that Pages 89-95 defined many acts of unnecessary roughness.  (The first sentence of Rule 9, Section 1 also allows officials to exercise individual discretion about what constitutes unnecessary roughness.)

Football is by nature a rough sport.  Some speculate that football is too rough to continue to exist as a sport as we understand it.

I only experienced its roughness first-hand for one season during 8th grade at Valley View Junior High School.  Mike Caniglio (sp) and Brad Rauch both nearly killed me in practice, and that was about enough for me.  Of course, they each weighed roughly twice what I did. (I should have instead challenged them to a Wits Clash.)

Given officials’ discretion to call unnecessary roughness penalties, at what point does the “roughness” become “unnecessary”?

I suppose the answer is somewhat akin to what my Constitutional Law professor told me was the proper way to write a law school exam:  “Exactly like your professor wants it.”  That is, what an official says is unnecessary is unnecessary, whether or not anyone else agrees.

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