The kickoff is perhaps the most exciting play in football. Well, it’s also the most dangerous.
That is why the American Football Coaches Association’s board of trustees and the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee have begun preliminary discussions to remove the kickoff from college football – and sooner rather than later.
“Well, as I found out, this discussion has been bubbling up for a long time. It’s even a discussion in the NFL,” CBSSports.com college football insider Dennis Dodd told Brent Stover and Brendan Haywood, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But it really came on most people’s radar in 2012. You guys remember Eric LeGrand got paralyzed covering that kick for Rutgers, and his coach, Greg Schiano, said at the time he favored eliminating kickoffs and placing the ball at the 30, 4th-and-15, and teams could choose to punt it or go for it. Going for it would be your onside kick.
“So what has happened in the subsequent years is the overwhelming injury data has shown the ratio is higher for injuries on kickoffs,” Dodd continued. “Obviously there’s not as many kickoffs as plays, but the (injury) ratio is higher (on kickoffs). So to address that, (the NCAA is) seriously discussing preliminary talks about getting rid of the kickoff.”
As Haywood pointed out, coaches often talk about winning in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Eliminating kickoffs removes a big piece of the special teams pie. Doesn’t that cheapen the game a bit?
Dodd says yes, but we can’t always get – or keep – what we want.
“I think it’s coming,” Dodd said of kickoff extinction. “I don’t know if I have an opinion on it yet. I would miss the kickoff. It’s almost the intentional walk of football. You don’t get touchdowns all the time, but there will be that faction who say, ‘Yeah, you’re doing too much to the game.’ But it’s coming. The NFL is talking about the injuries are too much. But I just mentioned Greg Schiano’s (suggestion), which might add an exciting element to the game, which makes it more excited than the kickoff now.”
Looking elsewhere in college football, Dodd believes that BYU is the No. 1 candidate for Big 12 expansion.
“It does look most like a Power 5 program, the way they devote money and facilities and fan interest in football up there in Provo,” Dodd said. “There’s a way they can do this. People talk about, ‘Well, it’s a private school and you got that Sunday restriction.’ I think they would seriously consider a football-only membership where you don’t have to fly the volleyball team from Texas to Provo or from West Virginia to Provo. You’re just going to play football against them up there once every two years, probably, if the schedule goes like that. I think BYU, right now far and away, is the leader in the clubhouse.”
Houston could also join the Big 12, as could a handful of other American Athletic Conference teams.
“It would render that league crippled, but not surprisingly,” Dodd said of the AAC. “The difference between the haves and the have-nots grows bigger day by day, and this would just be another example of it.”