Jim Weber runs LostLettermen.com, devoted to keeping tabs on former players and other bits of nostalgia. Today he reminisces on the simple, forbidden pleasures of the fumblerooski.
Even in the age of the spread, the Wildcat and Boise State's bottomless bag of big-game tricks, there's one gimmick we haven't seen in college football for almost two decades, and won't see anytime soon. In fact, the last time most people saw it was in the 1994 movie "Little Giants," where it was affectionately dubbed the "Annexation of Puerto Rico." (Technically, it was also in Adam Sandler's remake of "The Longest Yard," but really, who saw that?).
But by any other name, college football's long lost pinnacle of deception just isn’t as sweet. Of course, we're talking about the "fumblerooski."
Here's a quick nuts-and-bolts refresher: When the ball is snapped, the quarterback intentionally fumbles it forward, leaving it on the ground at the feet of one of his offensive linemen, completely unprotected while most of the offense sprints to one side of the field in what appears to be a stretch play. After the defense has taken the bait, an offensive guard who stayed at home scoops up the ball and sprints the other way in his best impression of a charging wildebeest.
Created by John Heisman himself, the fumblerooski first gained national recognition when Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, trailing Miami 17-0 with the national championship on the line in the 1984 Orange Bowl, called on 'Husker guard Dean Steinkuhler on a crucial third-and-five play in the second quarter: