NCAA approves radical rule change on kickoffs

Aubrey Yates
April 15, 2018

Last month, the NCAA Football Rules Committee proposed a significant tweak to kickoffs, calling for any fair catch made between the goal line and the 25-yard line to be treated as a touchback.

"The Football Rules Committee made the proposal to continue efforts to increase the number of touchbacks during kickoffs since fewer injuries occur during kickoffs that result in touchbacks than on kickoffs that are returned", the NCAA said in a release. Ensuing drives will begin at the 25-yard line. "I think the kickoff is still an exciting play in football and we think we have some really good returners, but when you have really good returners that's what they're going to do to you and maybe you've got to fair catch it, take the field position, and go from there".

This rule change was likely motivated by teams adjusting to the previous rule change of placing touchbacks at the 25 instead of the 20-yard line.

The NCAA announced Friday the adoption of several rule changes, including changes aimed at moving games along.

The spirit of the new rule is to reduce the number of collisions on kickoffs. Before the 2012 season, kickoffs were moved from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line and touchbacks were moved up five yards to the 25-yard line. Interior offensive lineman are the only players allowed to block below the waist from behind.

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With kickoffs being potential game changers, they are also viewed as one of the more risky plays in football. After a touchdown, the play clock will be set at 40 seconds to expedite the extra point or two-point conversion attempt.

-Any 15-yard penalty on made field goals can be enforced on the kickoff.

-A 10-second runoff when instant replay overturns an official's ruling inside the final minute of the first or second half, and a correct ruling would not have stopped the clock.

Leaping rules on field goals and extra points have been altered to mirror those on punts.

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