Saban wanted to move college kickoff point back to the 40

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Football is phasing out the kickoff, and the NCAA’s latest change to the sport’s most dangerous play would have been slightly different, if Alabama coach Nick Saban had his druthers.

According to, via CFT, Saban would have preferred moving the kickoff to the 40 yard line. Instead, the powers-that-be left the kickoff point at the 35, allowing the receiving team to make a fair catch inside the 25, while still getting the ball at the 25.

“I would have liked to have seen a different solution,” Saban said. “I understand the reason, I respect the reason — which is player safety, but I guess I’ve been around long enough to remember when we use to kick off from the 40-yard line. There were too many touchbacks, so we moved it back to the 35.

“So, for us old timers, I thought it would be an easier solution to just move it back up to the 40-yard line, because you’d get more touchbacks but you could still sky kick, onside kick — which you can still do some of those things, but you sky kick trying to give someone bad field position and they can fair catch the ball on the 15-yard line and get it on the 25.

“That takes some of the strategy out of the game, to me, with the result that we had. And you would have had the same result if you just moved it up five yards because almost everybody in college football would kick nothing but touchbacks . . . and you still would have all the strategies that you could have used in other circumstances.”

“Other circumstances” definitely are coming to college and pro football, in the form of the kickoff being eliminated completely and replaced with something else. That something else may be a fourth-and-15 play from the 30, with the option to punt, run a fake punt, or go for it.

It’s a possibility that Commissioner Roger Goodell first floated in a Time profile more than five years ago. Since then, the NFL has systematically neutered the kickoff to the point where it has become a foregone conclusion that kickoffs will be going away. The official PFT over-under continues to be 2.5 years, but it could make sense to bet the under.

15 responses to “Saban wanted to move college kickoff point back to the 40

  1. I still think the NFL needs to look at a way to incentivize the kicking team into kicking it out of play without eliminating the surprise or regular attempts at onsides kick/ squib kicks/ field position… which brings us back to the 1 point bonus of putting it through the uprights. Right now the kicking teams only incentive is pinning the return team deep or surprising them with an onside attempt, which rarely happens anyway but enough to be exciting & memorable (eagles-cowboys pickle juice game!!).
    Just think, your team kicks a late FG to go up 3 & on the kickoff the kicker collects an ever important point to go up 4, forcing the return team to go for a TD rather than a FG attempt to tie.
    By eliminating kickoffs, they will soon eliminate the kickers (and returners) because the 2 point option will be easier to justify with extra points not being gimme shots anymore. Everyone will just go for 2, then they’ll want to change that.
    Seems like a gimmick, but they are losing viewers in droves & are pushing hard against the diehards who have carried the league to the top of the mountain. I think this might be a little bit easier to adjust to after a few seasons, kind of like the 3 pointer in basketball.

  2. There is no reason to change anything about the kickoff. None.

    There have been a lot of shenanigans enacted by the league throughout the Goodell era, and none of them have pushed me to cancel my Sunday Ticket package and quit watching football. Eliminating the kickoff would do it.

  3. How about you just move everyone on the kickoff team up 5 or 10 yards except the kicker. The 10 guys running down the field will have less of chance to go FULL FORCE into the defending players who are creating the wedge. You still have a kickoff but not as violent.

  4. I am a diehard bears fan. Watched 95% of all games since 1979. But the writing is on the wall. I’m now 46 and I’ve grown as an adult. I’m beginning to see there is more to life than going to a bar and sitting and watching football for 4 hrs of my life each Sunday. I can go hike. Play Ping Pong. Go on a bike ride.
    Each year the NFL becomes less appealing.
    Get rid of the kickoff and you’ll get rid of me.

  5. The official PFT over-under continues to be 2.5 years, but it could make sense to bet the under.

    Continues to be? So maybe three years from now you will still be saying 2.5 years, yeah, if you keep moving the goal posts I’ll take the under too.

  6. The powers that be in college football (err, TV, espn, et al) wanted the hits. They wanted the action to sell it to their sports center news. Then repeat and repeat. I agree with Saban.

    They should also allow kicking teams the ability to kick the ball out of bounds inside the 10 to pin the opposition. Be fair. It’s called football, not knee ball?

  7. Devin Hester is among my top 10 favorite players of all time.
    Roger Goodell: The only man capable of single handedly neutering potential legends out of the game.

  8. Interesting that a football person has a reasonable solution to a “problem” that isn’t a complete over-reaction. Maybe the powers-that-be should listen to one once.

    College football is great, but between the new touchback rule and the inconsistencies in enforcing targeting, Saturday’s won’t be the same.

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