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Film: Necessary Roughness

Necessary Roughness is a 1991 film starring Scott Bakula as Paul Blake, a former high school football star who gave up his dreams of playing college ball and probably going on to the pros to return home and run his family farm. When the Texas State University football team, the Fighting Armadillos, becomes involved in a scandal resulting in almost the entire team being expelled or disqualified, the new coaches must assemble a team from the ragtag group of goofballs willing to join... and the now thirty-plus Blake, lured to college and the team by the idea of finally putting to rest his dreams of what might have been.

It falls on Blake, as quarterback, and Coach Eddie "Straight Arrow" Gennero (Hector Elizondo) - a former big-time college coach lured to Texas State with the promise of building a program from the ground up, with no booster interference - to try and turn this strange group of nobodies into a Band of Brothers, while the entire time the team is under the baleful eye of Dean Elias, who hates college sports teams and wants any excuse to destroy the team and get rid of football forever. (Yeah, in Texas. As you can imagine, he's quite the popular guy.) Along the way he falls for one of his teachers, journalism professor Suzanne Carter, who he turns out to have a past with of which he was completely unaware.

The film averts one of the major underdog sports movie tropes. See, turns out that assembling a ragtag team of weirdos who have never played football doesn't suddenly rocket you to success and send you to the finals. The Armadillos have an absolutely terrible season, and in the end the final game isn't about winning the championships... it's about winning their pride and dignity instead.

Not to be confused with the USA network show of the same name.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ain't No Rule: There really isn't a rule that says a woman can't play college football — and there actually have been a few female kickers at the college level in Real Life.
  • Actor Allusion: The Armadillos' announcer is played by Rob Schneider. At one point he calls a fumble, and gives the player responsible nicknames relating to the word "fumble", like his famous nicknamer character from Saturday Night Live.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees - Coach Gennero's appearance on ESPN is played like he's been exiled from coaching. In reality, plenty of coaches who have been fired or quit - in every sport - take up broadcasting for at least a year or two. And many tend to take up broadcasting as a post-athletic career.
  • Berserk Button - You can insult Blake. You can call him names. You can even pour beer on him. But don't insult his center.
    • Said center has to be held back by the entire team when an opposing player cheap shots Lucy.
  • Big Word Shout: The announcer shouting "SHIIIT!" after the team's 8th loss.
  • Bodyguard Crush - Manumana for Lucy.
  • The Big Guy - Manumana, Blake's giant Samoan center. According to him, it means "runt of the litter", and the other men in his family are even bigger. He's also given the Ironic Nickname "Manumana the Slender".
  • Black and Nerdy - Sinbad as Andre Krimm, a former player who gave up the team to focus on academics. Blake lures him back. He has a hell of a tackle.
    "Andre does not eat raw meat. Because Andre is a vegetarian."
    "Eat whatever the hell you want, Andre."
  • The Cameo - Several NFL legends (including Dick Butkus, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, and Earl Campbell, just to name a few) and a pro boxer (Evander Holyfield) appear as inmates when the team plays a "scrimmage" against a local prison.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back - Lampshaded.
  • Dean Bitterman - Dean Phillip Elias. Believes sports have no place at college. Fine in itself, but he's willing to use every dirty trick in the book, including breaking all conceivable ethical guidelines, to get rid of college football.
  • Expospeak Gag - Gennaro is hospitalized, and later is told what happened in technical terms... but it's just indigestion.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Genius Bruiser: Andre, a massive, powerful lineman who went to Texas State on a football and chemistry scholarship. He ended up quitting football in favor of academics, and by his third year in college he's teaching classes.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball - The scene where the referee gives up trying to tally all the penalties Samurai racked up when he punched out half the opposing offense: In reality, the other team would only be allowed to take one of the penalties, not all of them (not to mention Samurai would've been ejected from the game before the ref even started talking). Averted in the "take one of the penalties" sense, in that the ref finally gives up on the long list and ends with "15 yards, first down!" ...which is what the infraction would have given in real life (though, again, Samurai would be ejected.)
    • Averted with Blake. Since he never went to college, his eligibility clock never started. Several Real Life older football players (Chris Weinke, Brandon Weeden) have had successful college football careers (this was usually after they had given up being professional baseball players; though this would make them ineligible to play baseball in college, they can still play football just fine.)
  • Glory Days - Blake's high school football years are this, but his father died and he gave up college years before to run the farm.
  • Groin Attack/Ironic Echo: A big player on an opposing team knocks Lucy down after the game and dismissively says, "Welcome to football!" She kicks him hard, angrily saying, "Welcome to foot...ball!"
  • Hero of Another Story: The story of Charlie Banks, the only player on the original team not to be banned from football, and how he not only persisted in the sport despite his obvious athletic shortcomings, all the way to catching the winning reception, would have made a fine movie in and of itself.
  • Honor Before Reason: He's called Eddie "Straight Arrow" Gennero for a reason.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After the bar fight:
    Sheriff: "Brawl? There ain't no brawl."
    Dean Elias: "First of all, it's 'there isn't any brawl'. Second, what do you mean there ain't no brawl?!"
  • Jerk Jock - Most of the Armadillos avert this, either by being good people or not being jocks. (Or at least, football jocks.) Their rival team, however, is made up of this. Their star linebacker, "Flat-Top", could probably provide the trope page image.
  • Meaningful Echo - When Blake is practicing throwing passes in the beginning of the movie, he uses an old football target with the jersey number 88. Later, when he throws the game-winning extra point pass, guess what number Charley Banks, the receiver, wears?
  • No Colleges Were Harmed: Texas State is basically the University of North Texas (where the movie was mostly shot) with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. However, the backstory for TSU is basically that of Southern Methodist University, the only school in NCAA history to receive the "Death Penalty"note  for football. Meanwhile, the Armadillos' rival Texas Colts are an expy of what most people probably think of the Texas Longhorns.
  • Opposing Sports Team - The Texas Colts
  • Precision F-Strike - During an attempt at a Rousing Speech.
    • The announcer shouting "SHIIIT!" after the team's 8th loss.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh... - Blake gives Flat Top a one-two punch in the face after the latter insults his center. Flat Top is barely fazed (like he just got splashed with a faceful of cold water), prompting an utterance of "oh, Lord" from someone off-camera just before the ensuing bar brawl.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Armadillos
  • Reality Subtext: An allegory to the troubles that befell Southern Methodist University in 1987, having their football program shut down for illegal recruiting.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure - Fred Thompson as Chancellor Purcell
  • Redemption Quest - Both for Blake (to prove to himself he had what it took to be a big time college QB) and for Coach Gennero (who was chased from his last job by boosters who hated him). Charlie Banks also gets a nod, since he was the only player from the previous team who didn't get banned from the sport. He ends up on the receiving end of the pass that wins the game.
  • Smooch of Victory - Lucy kisses Manumana on the cheek after they win the last game. Manumana collapses in joy.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Lucy in the shower room (to the joy of Kathy Irelandnote  fans).
  • Tragic Dropout: Blake never got to go to college because he had to run the family farm.
  • Underdogs Always Win: Averted until the very end.
  • What the Hell, Hero? - After Coach Gennero humiliates the entire team in front of a group of boosters, Coach Riggendorf blasts him for turning what should've been a Moment of Awesome into a Humiliation Conga.
  • Who Needs A Tie? - In the climax, after a few of the players get hurt, it looks like the Armadillos are going for the tie, but they run a fake PAT with Blake hitting Charlie Banks in the endzone for the 2-point conversion and the win. (This was before the NCAA adopted overtime.)

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