The NCAA made a rule change to kickoffs that will almost certainly mean there will be fewer returns this season: Any fair catch inside the 25-yard-line will place the ball at the 25-yard-line.
Which has led nearly everyone to the exact same conclusion — that the kickoff return probably is not long for the game at this point.
”I have told our coaches, ‘Before we retire … I firmly believe you’re not going to see kickoffs,’” Texas coach Tom Herman said.
It’s all about safety, of course.
”The data is convincing,” said Bob Bowlsby, NCAA Football Oversight Committee chair. “The [injury] frequency isn’t any higher. The severity is higher. There’s the talk about [how] we used four-man wedges; we got rid of that. We used to have three-man wedges; we got rid of that. We still have two-man wedges. A lot of the challenge is, you’ve got a kicking team that’s running full speed. You’ve got a receiving team that’s trying to diffuse that.”
So, wait a second: We now have a new rule designed to reduce the frequency of returns, even though the frequency of injuries isn’t higher on kickoff returns, just the severity? That made sense to someone?
That’s why these continued half measures are so dumb. If it’s been decided that kickoffs are really that dangerous, there’s only one logical conclusion one can reach:
They should have been eliminated already.
I mean, consider the practical effects of this rule. Will it eliminate the pop-up kick just short of the goal line? Probably not — teams can still try it, even if it might be thwarted by a fair catch. And, besides, there’s a pretty decent likelihood that it won’t even reduce the number of collisions.
Says Alabama coach Nick Saban: “If a guy fair catches the ball, by the time he decides weather he’s going to fair catch or not, they would have done most of the contact. I guess I would have chose a different way to do it.”
Additionally, if there’s one thing we know about coaches, it’s that every rule change will cause them to experiment and figure out how to work within the change to maximize the strategic benefit for their team. It could induce more squib-type kicks, which are not eligible for a fair catch, and thus introduce a new strategy that still will involve — you guessed it! — lots of high-speed collisions.
Whenever this kickoff is finally eliminated, it probably will be 20 years after it should have.
Thoughts on the kickoff rule change?
This poll is closed
Just get rid of kickoffs already