Kevin McGuire gave a good break down of the rule changes coming to college football in 2012.
These rules are changed to protect the players. Anything done with players safety in mind is a good thing, and I agree with most of them. However, I believe that the rule changes to kickoffs are bad for the game.
First off, teams will kick off from the 35 yard line. As we saw with the NFL, that does not necessarily prevent more returns. How many 105+ yard returns did we see in the NFL?
So, to give the receiving team more incentive to down the ball for a touchback, the ball will be placed at the 25 yard line, rather than the 20.
For a returner receiving the ball in the end zone, it seems like a no brainer now to down the ball. Not only is the kicking team 5 yards closer, giving less time for blocking to be set up, but you get 5 extra yard on a touchback.
However, kicking teams are going to do everything in their power to prevent touchbacks. I can guarantee that teams will be practicing to get kickoffs inside the 10, but outside of the endzone, if they do not do so already.
I personally feel that the change in the touchback spot is a horrible idea. Ultimately, I believe it was too much and won’t make a significant difference in player safety.
I believe much of this is in response to the horrible injury suffered by Rutger’s Eric LeGrande. However, if you recall, that kickoff was taken from right at the 5 yard line. So, even with the kickoff 5 yards up, still would have been returned.
I commend the NCAA for putting players safety first, but I feel that they missed the ball on this one.