Disconcerting Act Foul and Penalty Reclassified [7-1-9 (NEW), 7-1-9 PENALTY (NEW)]
Prior to the 2020 rule change, the rule book said that, "Using disconcerting acts or words prior to the snap in an attempt to interfere with A’s signals or movements"
was an unsportsmanlike foul and was assessed 15 yards. I was the umpire in a playoff game in Commerce with Referee Steve Brennan. The defensive line were making loud vocal sounds as the opposing quarterback was calling his signals. I told the defense after a play early in the game that they would have to stop because Mr. Brennan would not let that fly. The next play they repeated their vocalizations and the offense had a lineman jump into a false start. The false start was penalized, but Steve stepped toward their defense and told them that any future disconcerting acts would be penalized. The players were absolutely livid, but they stopped doing it.
I don't remember if it was at halftime or after the game but the home team coach, whose team had been given the warning, uttered one of the more cliche coaching statements of all time. "We've been doing that all year and no other crew penalized it." Why weren't other crews penalizing it? Can we arbitrarily disregard a rule because we think its silly? The National Federation of High Schools concluded that officials weren't making the call because it was a 15 yard penalty and an unsportsmanlike foul to boot. As of 2020, disconcerting acts or words by the defense has been reclassified from a unsportsmanlike foul to a disconcerting act foul, and the penalty changed from 15 yards to 5 yards.