The team receiving a kickoff would be allowed to make a fair catch between its goal line and 25-yard line and have it result in a touchback under an NCAA Football Rules Committee proposal.
NCAA secretary-rules editor Steve Shaw said the proposal is a counter to emerging strategy in which the kickoff team tries to execute a high, short kick to pin the receiving team deep in its territory. The opportunity for a fair catch and touchback should reduce high-impact collisions and risk of injury, he said Friday.
“Coaches have really looked at this and they want to do things to make this play safer in our game and keep it a viable play,” Shaw said.
Before the 2012 season, kickoffs were moved from the 30-yard line to the 35 and the starting position on touchbacks from the receiving team’s 20 to 25.
“The committee discussed the kickoff play at great length and we will continue to work to find ways to improve the play,” said North Carolina coach and committee chairman Larry Fedora. “We believe making one change (this year) will allow us to study the effect of this change in terms of player safety.”
The proposal will be sent to conferences for feedback before being considered by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on April 13. If approved by the panel, the change would go into effect for the 2018 season.
The committee also proposed that offensive players not be allowed to block below the waist more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Those blocks also would have to be from the front, except in the case of interior linemen.
The committee approved two pace-of-play proposals. After a touchdown, the play clock would be set at 40 seconds to expedite the extra point or two-point conversion attempt. Following a kickoff, the play clock would be set to 40 seconds to restart play more quickly.
Also, the committee approved the addition of a 10-second runoff when instant replay overturns the ruling on the field inside of one minute in either half and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock.
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