Kickoff-less College Football
Posted by: Anthony Yaylor
Sportsbook users who engage in NCAA Football betting might like to know that the sport is seriously considering the removal of kickoffs in an effort to combat concussions. For several years now the idea has been tossed around, but now the movement is really gaining some momentum. At first glance the removal of kickoffs might not seem like a game changer, but it certainly is. Consider that last year’s champs, Alabama, would not have won last year’s National Title were it not for the kickoff. The Crimson Tide had two plays that were instrumental in their victory accomplished by their special teams. A kick returned for a touchdown and a recovered on-side kick were what put the nail in the coffin for Clemson. If kickoffs are removed who knows how the National Championship game would have turned out. One thing is for sure, the result of this rule change will have dire consequences for NCAA Football betting.
The majority of college football coaches are not in favor of a rule change, and the reason is obvious. If kickoffs are removed there would be no way for teams to perform an onside kick. Without onside kicks football wouldn’t have had all those memorable 4th quarter comebacks that make football, well football. Even the implications of field position are enough to keep kickoffs within the sport. There’s a lot to be gained, or loss, from the performance of special teams and removing kickoffs all together would rob a lot of teams of late game comebacks.
There is no question that the safety of the players comes before anything else, but is there enough data to make the removal of kickoffs unquestionable? Unfortunately the NCAA has refrained from publicly releasing data on injury kickoffs and the lack of clarity leads to further obscurity for those on the outside. The Ivy League however does have some figures that it has made public. With research performed over the last three seasons they have found that kickoff returns account for 23.4% of concussions during the season. This figure is even more remarkable when considering that kickoffs only account for 5.8% of all football plays. In order to further their research the NCAA has sanctioned a ‘conference only’ experimental rule to allow schools within the Ivy League to place the ball on the 40-yard line when kicking off, instead of the current 35-yard line. The rule will also affect touchbacks, placing them on the 20-yard line instead of the 25-yard line. The rule change will help clarify exactly what effect kickoff returns have on player safety.
The concept of moving the kickoff forward is much more favorable than the removal of kickoffs altogether. While it might be easier for the opponents to perform touchbacks, the kicking team still has the ability to perform onside kicks. Ultimately this rule change will affect not only NCAA Football betting, but all of football betting. If the NCAA decides to adopt rule changes in hopes of keeping players safe, there is no doubt that there will be pressure on the NFL to follow suit. Five years ago the NFL decided to move kickoffs to the 35-yard line instead of the 30 and next season they have added a change to touchbacks. Touchbacks will now be placed on the 25-yard line in an effort to limit kick returns. While the results of these changes are yet to be determined, it is clear that both the NFL and NCAA are adamant about player safety.