While much of the national media focuses on oversigning and plans to pay players, another potential change to college football is gathering steam. And it just so happens that less talked about proposal is more important than oversigning and a more realistic change than paying players.
This offseason, the NFL voted to change its kickoff rules to cut down on the number of kicks that will be returned next season (whenever the season starts). The league is serious about cutting down on concussions and other serious injuries. The most dangerous play in football is the kickoff. Therefore, cutting down on kickoff returns should cut down on a lot of injuries.
Last month, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano suggested the NCAA dump kickoffs altogether in an effort to protect its players, too. And now Georgia coach Mark Richt is giving a little bit of support to Schiano’s proposal. According to Seth Emerson of The Columbus Ledger, Richt said today:
“I think if it went to a vote, I would vote for no kickoff also. I would just place the ball on the 23-yard line, or whatever it is, whatever the average has been. I’m sure defensive coaches would it on the 18, and offensive coaches would want it on the 30.
Being up in the booth (as an assistant coach) you just can’t sense the speed and the violence of the hits. Then when I became the head coach at Georgia and now I’m standing on the sideline, and I’m watching it from me to you, it is violent, it is very physical. You’ve got a bunch of guys that can run strong. They’re fast, and they’re not afraid. It’s kind of a manhood thing: No one’s gonna back down.”
Get ready for change, folks. Unlike paying players, this issue is a simple fix. And proponents can point to player safety as a reason for the move.
We’ve all grown up watching kickoffs. They’re exciting. But they’re also dangerous. If more coaches like Schiano and Richt come out in support of this proposal, then it’s a safe bet that kickoffs will someday go away from the game.
For those who say such a move would “wussify” the game, you might feel differently if it were your son running full speed into a 250-pound man who is also running at full speed.
For those who say the game couldn’t make such a large-scale change, remember that players once donned leather helmets with no facemasks and that clothesline tackles were once legal.
Football would still be football without kickoffs. It would just be safer football.
We at MrSEC.com aren’t fully in support of this measure, but we understand the rationale behind it and, therefore, we defer to the coaches who know what’s good and bad about their game. If major college coaches say kickoffs have become too dangerous, who are we to argue?