Rudy Was Offsides: The Controversial Call That Changed Football Forever

The Background Story

The year was 1975, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were playing against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a highly anticipated football game. The score was tied at 3-3 with just a few seconds left on the clock, and Notre Dame was about to attempt a game-winning field goal.

The tension was palpable as the ball was snapped, and Notre Dame’s kicker, Bob Thomas, launched the ball towards the goalposts. As the ball sailed through the air, something strange happened – Georgia Tech’s defensive end, Rudy Gamble, jumped up and blocked the kick.

The Controversial Call

As the ball bounced off Rudy’s fingertips and fell to the ground, the referees blew their whistles and called the play dead. The reason? They had determined that Rudy had jumped offsides, meaning he had crossed the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped.

Notre Dame was awarded a 5-yard penalty and given another chance to kick the field goal. This time, Bob Thomas made the kick, and Notre Dame won the game 6-3. The call was controversial, to say the least, and it has been debated among football fans and analysts ever since.

The Impact of the Call

The call had a significant impact on college football and the way the game is played. Before this game, there were no strict guidelines or penalties for offsides calls. The referees had a lot of discretion in making these calls, and it was often a judgment call.

However, after the controversial call in the Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech game, the NCAA decided to enforce stricter rules for offsides calls. They introduced clear guidelines for what constituted an offsides call, and penalties became more consistent across the board.

The Legacy of Rudy Gamble

The call also had a significant impact on Rudy Gamble’s life. While he had been a talented football player, he would forever be remembered as the player who jumped offsides and cost his team the game. He received death threats and hate mail from angry fans, and he struggled to find his place in the world after the game.

However, in recent years, Rudy has become somewhat of a folk hero in the football world. His name has become synonymous with the idea of “giving it your all,” no matter what the odds are, and his story has inspired countless players and fans.

The Lessons We Can Learn

The story of Rudy Gamble and the controversial offsides call has a lot to teach us about life and football. It reminds us that sometimes, even the smallest mistake can have a huge impact on our lives and those around us.

It also teaches us the importance of perseverance and determination. Despite the hate and criticism he faced, Rudy never gave up on his dreams, and he continued to work hard to achieve them.


The story of Rudy Gamble and the offsides call that changed football forever is one that will be remembered for years to come. It reminds us that even the smallest moments can have a significant impact on our lives, and it teaches us the importance of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity.

So, the next time you watch a football game and see a player make a mistake, remember the story of Rudy Gamble and the lesson it has to teach us all.