College football might be on the verge of eliminating kickoffs from the game in the interest of player safety.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel gave permission to the Ivy League on Wednesday to kickoff from the 40-yard line this season, hoping to create more touchbacks and cut down on the number of times kickoffs are actually returned and players are subjected to high-impact collisions. The rule will be in effect for Ivy League games only and does not effect other conferences.
Under current rules, college teams kickoff from the 35-yard line and when a touchback occurs, the receiving team starts its possession at the 25-yard line. In the Ivy League this season, the receiving team will start at the 20 following a touchback.
The Ivy League is essentially serving as guinea pig this season as it tests the new rule in an effort to see how it impacts games and overall player health over the course of the season.The number of concussions players suffer on kickoff returns is one of the areas the Ivy League will track this season.
It’s not a leap to suggest the rule could be adopted by the rest of college football at some point in the coming years with as much emphasis as there has been on greater player safety in recent years. Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports reported this week that several groups within the NCAA have been discussing the possibility of eliminating kickoffs from the college game.