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Old Sun Nov 04, 2012, 04:21pm
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illegal formation help

Hi, I was hoping for some help by the folks on this forum. I consider myself pretty well-versed in the rules of both college football and the NFL. I, however, cannot for the life of me, find anywhere online a complete listing of all of the illegal formation rules in the NFL (or college).

I'm aware that you have to have at least 7 men on the line of scrimmage (and that WH's often refer to this foul in several ways...6 men in the backfield; not enough men on the line of scrimmage, etc.)

I also think (please correct me) that the person on the end of the line on both sides must be an eligible receiver...this is where you get the issue of a WR not "covering up" a tackle...when the WR lines up off the line, making the tackle the last man on the end, and this is this correct?

I also believe that there is some rule that pertains to the actual numbers on the field, and subs - is that correct?

Anyone who could clear this up for me, i'd appreciate it!!!

Thank you all in advance!!
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Old Sun Nov 04, 2012, 05:39pm
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APG APG is offline
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Posts: 5,890
For the NFL:
  • Must be 7 on the line of scrimmage
  • Players on the end of the line must be an eligible receiver
  • All players between players on the end of the line must be ineligible receivers
  • All players must be inbounds
  • All players eligible by number (1-49 and 80-89) must be in eligible positions (at the end of the line or in the backfield) and all players ineligible by number (50-79 and 90-99) must be in positions that wouldn't make them eligible (unless a player reports as eligible or ineligible).
  • If the offense shifts, they must present a legal formation at the end of every shift.

You can find the rule book and case book at

  • All players inbounds
  • All players are either linemen or are in the backfield
  • At least 5 linemen numbers from 50-79 (except for a snap from a field goal or punt)
  • No more than 4 players in the backfield
  • If there's a snap from a field goal/punt, then there can be less than 5 players with numbers 50-79:
  • All linemen not numbered 50-79 on the line are ineligible receivers. They must be on the line and not on the end of the line. All players remain ineligible throughout the down unless the ball touches an official or defensive player.

You can find last year's rule book at NCAA Publications - Playing Rules and it's a free download in pdf format as well.
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Last edited by APG; Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 09:29pm.
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Old Mon Nov 05, 2012, 08:38am
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Here are the NCAA rules for the current year.
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. - Will Rogers
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