Tuck: Kickoffs Safer. Kickoffs Better?

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

College football introduced a new rule this year.  The kicking team now kickoffs off from the 35-yard line as opposed to the 30-yard line.  The hope is to create more touchbacks, less returns, and therefore less devastating collisions that lead to injuries, especially those concerning the head and neck.

The receiving team also benefits though.  The touchback now results in the ball being placed at the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line.

So, what have the results yielded so far?

According to ESPN Stats and Info, there are a total  of 810 touchbacks in 2012 in college football through 3 weeks of the season.

There were 330 in 2011 through 3 weeks.

Touchback percentage has jumped from 16.6% to 39.2%.

Pretty amazing.  I do wonder if it was worth it though?  Or did you even go far enough to fix the “problem?”

You are still getting 61% of kicks returned, and if you believe that “that play” is particularly violent, why even allow it?  Or why not move kickoffs to the 40-yard line like high school?  Or kickoff from the 50?

Bill Belichick has suggested a day that we outlaw the play altogether.  Is it far-fetched?  I am not sure.  As kids we rarely played with kickoffs.  We just scored and gave the other team the ball at the 20.  But in organized football, you need a kickoff for the onside kick to exist.  If you eliminated the kickoff, you’d eliminate the last gasp play so many teams rely on week to week.

I don’t think I could envision the sport being played without kickoffs, but I could see more changes made to minimize the play, and the resulting injuries it causes.

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