NCAA approves biggest change yet to kickoff rule

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The kickoff is on the way out in the sport of football, and the NCAA has just taken the biggest step yet toward eliminating the play that has begun every game in the sport’s existence.

The NCAA announced today that on all kickoffs in college football, the receiving team will have the option to fair catch the ball anywhere inside the 25-yard line and have the play count as a touchback.

The NCAA was clear about the reasons for the rule change: Players get hurt on kickoff returns, and fewer returns will result in fewer injuries.

“The Football Rules Committee made the proposal to continue efforts to increase the number of touchbacks during kickoffs since fewer injuries occur during kickoffs that result in touchbacks than on kickoffs that are returned,” the NCAA said.

This rule will result in fewer kickoff returns, and once fans become accustomed to fewer kickoff returns, they’ll become accustomed to the idea of getting rid of the kickoff entirely. The kickoff is going away.

The only question is what will become of onside kicks, which are a staple of late-game comebacks. The NFL and the NCAA will both need to consider some kind of rule change that would allow teams trailing late in games to get the ball back after they score. The upstart Alliance of American Football has announced that it will do away with kickoffs but allow teams to try to get the ball back after scoring, by running one play from their own 30-yard line, needing to gain 10 yards to keep the ball.

Whether that rule gains traction or some other replacement for the onside kick is adopted, the reality is kickoffs are going away. The NCAA took a big step in that direction today.

62 responses to “NCAA approves biggest change yet to kickoff rule

  1. Am I to believe college administrators aren’t in it for the money now? Seriously

  2. Once they get rid of the kickoff, I’m done. I was actually looking forward to college ball because they have monkey’d all up… until now.

    But the NCAA is full of hypocrites, why not get rid of football if it’s so unsafe? Oh yeah, the hundreds of millions of dollars that football generates for the NCAA… that will begin to fade quickly once the sports loses it’s appeal.

  3. So the “outlandish” rules the XFL could have this time would be to have teams actually kickoff and return said kickoffs? Revolutionary…

  4. If they get rid of kickoffs how will they jam seven commercials in between the last score and the next possession.

  5. The injuries are coming to the 10 manics on both sides that get a full head of steam then ram into each other not the returner.

    So how about lining 20 guys on the line of scrimmage, the kicker and returner are the only ones off of it, the players are engaged so one would guess injuries will go down because the collisions will be eliminated…as for onside kicks I’ll let someone else take that…

  6. NFL stats show the difference between injuries on kick off and injuries on plays from scrimmage happen at just about the same rate.

  7. The 4th and 10 instead of an onside kick is too easy for the team trying to get the ball back. You get 10 yards a lot more often then you can get an onside kick. What made the onside kick so exciting was that it was such a hard thing to accomplish, like a Hail Mary. Should make it 25 yards.

  8. Maybe I miss it but i dont recall too many injuries on these plays? Why dont they just line up the kicking team (minus kicker) closer to the mid field. Do we have a stat line on injuries on these plays? I need some evidence because i just dont see it.

  9. The pipeline from college to the NFL will be diminished because several players only make NFL rosters based on their kick-off return/special teams ability. Once on the roster, they can proof their worth at other positions, but without special teams, there’s no chance.

  10. This will likely lead to more onside kicks. Common scenario: The team behind scores but it’s not late enough in the game to HAVE to try an onside but the receiving team puts in the hands team just in case. Up until now that frequently has resulted in kicking away hoping to pin them deep since they aren’t setup for a return. Except now it’ll be impossible to pin them deep so you might as well try the onside. Another likely consequence is teams making the hands team the default kick return unit as that would defend against onsides kicks with little drawback since they’re basically guaranteed the ball no further back than the 25.

  11. Getting the rid of the kickoff is a bad idea. What makes the kickoff more dangerous than a punt? In theory, its the high speed collisions. What causes high speed collisions on the kickoff? Player placement and lack of hang time. Put rules in place to make the kick off safer. Require all players except the return man to line up slightly closer to the kicking team so they have to run back further to set up for the return. Also put a touchback at the 35 instead of the 25, while extending the kickoff out of bounds penalty all the way out around the field, including the back of the end zone. So if a kicker plants one in the stands, it comes out to the 40, just as it would if it went out the sideline (for the back of the end zone, it would only apply to balls that fly out of the end zone without hitting the ground. Not rollers or bounces the receiving team let go out of bounds. Those would be normal touchbacks.

    This would cause kickers to sky the ball or pooch it, resulting in more hang time. Or squib it, resulting in longer developing returns. Either way, fewer high speed collisions while still allowing us to see very exciting players with the ball in their hands.

    Problem solved. Thanks for reading.

  12. @canetic says:

    If they get rid of kickoffs how will they jam seven commercials in between the last score and the next possession.
    Easy-peasy! They will have 3 after the score, 3 after the fair catch and the 7th one will be in split screen while the game continues.

  13. “Players get hurt on kickoff returns, and fewer returns will result in fewer injuries.”

    Players get hurt on every kind of play. This is ridiculous.

    At the rate things are going in another few years they won’t be playing football, they will replace it with competitive line dancing – “Jim look at the Bears go, they’re doing a doe-see-doe left and right !!!! And now the Packers are doing a round dance to counter !!!!”

  14. It won’t reduce kickoff returns. If a receiver catches the ball on the 20 yard line, then there is no reason not to return the kickoff.

  15. It is a solution looking for a problem. There are very few kickoff returns anyway because kickers routinely kick the ball into the end zone and few players run it back out if they catch the ball inside the end zone.

  16. “…the reality is kickoffs are going away.” The reality is that when kickoffs go away, I go away from football. Football is and always has been a dangerous game. We have known this for years. While it’s admirable to try to make the game safer, it’s impossible to make football–or any game–completely safe. Perhaps I should start making my transition from the sport that is systematically taking the foot out of football and start watching the sport where the foot touches the ball constantly for 90 minutes. I plan to enjoy the World Cup all the more this summer.

  17. Kickoffs, like viewers, are going away. Getting rid of kickoffs will only serve to expedite the exodus of the latter.

  18. Football is dead as we know it, old timers.

    Young kids don’t care what happens, too busy on social media.

    Can’t wait for my dirt nap!

  19. thirdand43 says:
    April 13, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    The wussification of America.
    Or the forced liberalfication of America. They may be the same thing.

  20. You bozos really have a lot of hopes and dreams riding on the alleged comeback of the XFL.

    I hope you all have a good support network. Just in case.

  21. The kickoff is on the way out in the sport of football,

    And taking many fans with it. It’s like the NFL is purposely trying to self destruct. This is what happens when liberals run stuff. They destroy everything that’s fun.

  22. Isn’t there always a most dangerous play? Get rid of kickoffs and then the punt becomes the focus, or a running back lowering their head coming around the edge (wait what?).
    At some point we all acknowledge there is the possibility of injury. Keep improving equipment but don’t change the games.
    The players accept it, and get paid fairly well for it. Teams will lose the need for special teams players. I bet those guys aren’t the ones complaining.

  23. College players will keep running the ball back as long as return skills win them NFL roster spots.

  24. That’s pretty clever, but I wish they would have made the touchbacks outside of the endzone go to the 20. You get extra points for kicking it through the endzone.

  25. I found kick offs to suck unless Hester was returning or it was going to be an onside kick. Punts on the other hand are more entertaining.

  26. Of all the games that I watch, I see very few injuries on kickoffs. Most of the concussion type injuries come on the line of scrimmage during regular plays. Plus how is this different than punts? All this is going to do is force teams to start squibbing the ball more, which does nothing to deter “injuries”

  27. I have coached High School football for 8 years now and I coached at the middle school level for 9 years before that. There are rarely touchbacks (way more kicks going out of bounds than there are touchbacks). I can honestly say that I can’t remember 1 significant injury occurring on a kickoff/kickoff return in 17 seasons. Maybe we are just lucky.

  28. The old “boil the frog alive” strategy…let’s see if fans say “yeah…screw you, I’m done.”

  29. Nothing will ever be worse than the “Happy Days” jumping the shark episode.
    NFL: Hold my beer.

  30. I don’t really remember a ton of injuries on kickoffs. Is there some factual data showing more players suffer injuries on a kickoff as opposed to a non-kickoff play?

  31. You may as well get rid of special teams all together. If you have no kickoffs, then why have punts? Last I checked there are 11 guys coming full speed at 1 guy, just like kickoffs…actually punts are way more dangerous than kickoffs.

    Why have field goals when the kicker is putting himself in an exposed position when 11 guys are running full speed at him? Lots of kickers seem to be getting hurt. Better stop kicking.

    Am I doing it right?

  32. Kickoffs used to be synonymous with starting something exciting. You hear it in IT, and probably many other professions all the time. By turning Kickoffs into something boring, between commercials, the NFL is taking away the key reason why people sit down and turn to the NFL at 1PM/4PM EST. I wouldnt miss a possible kickoff return by Devin Hester or Brian Mitchell.

    Without the exciting opening to the game, I feel the need to turn on at 1PM, I can finish the laundry, or yard work or keep working on my car. Maybe I will turn on at 2:00 or 3:00, or just watch the highlights later.

    This is the real reason for the NFLs ratings decline. The kickoffs are boring and less people feel the need to watch the beginning of the games, so they end up watching less games.

  33. I know I’ll get downvotes, but if they do this gradually it will work. It’s just going to be super hard in this day and age with social media. It was just a few years ago that defensive backs could straight up destroy receivers and that rule change went by without everyone clamoring that the end was near.

  34. If you have a really good offense and a pretty bad defense, why would you ever kick off?

  35. The reason you watch football is for the possibility of seeing an exciting play that goes for long yardage. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a player take the ball in his own end zone and running 100 yards to score. You eliminate that possibility and the game loses something. Specifically, less variety and more of the same routine.

  36. Imagine how tough Russian special forces would be
    if they grew up playing American football.

  37. Everyone saying I don’t see that many injuries must know more than coaches and players. They consistently say it’s the most dangerous play in football. I think this is a good compromise as I don’t want to see it go away, but protecting the players should be a priority for everyone.

  38. But isn’t the onside kick in football the equivalent of the shot clock in basketball? Both reward teams for playing poorly early in the game. That’s why I had no problem whatsoever with the “four corner offense” in college basketball.

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