NCAA panel approves drastic rule change for kickoffs

The NCAA is changing the kickoff rules to allow players to fair catch the ball inside the 25-yard line

- A number of changes were approved by the NCAA's rules panel Friday that will be enforced beginning in the 2018 football season.

If any player on the receiving team signals for a fair catch inside his own 25-yard line, it results in an automatic touchback - the same as if the a player kneeled in the end zone on a kickoff. Previously, players calling for fair catches on kickoffs inside the 25 would be setting their team back, with the ball placed wherever they made the fair catch.

The spirit of the new rule is to reduce the number of collisions on kickoffs. Well kickoffs will be, but kick returns on the other hand...

With kickoffs being potential game changers, they are also viewed as one of the more unsafe plays in football.

"The committee discussed the kickoff play at great length and we will continue to work to find ways to improve the play", said Larry Fedora, the North Carolina coach who is chairman of the committee, last month.

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That's because the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Friday approved new kickoff rules.

The NFL also made the same changes, though they were first moving the kickoffs to the 35-yard line and followed the NCAA's lead on touchbacks in 2016.

The panel also approved rules regarding blocks below the waist and pace of play.

The most noticeable change pertains to offensive blocks: The offense will not be allowed to block below the waist when the block occurs more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Oen approved rule will run a 40-second play clock for extra points and two-point conversion attempts after a touchdown is scored.

The NCAA has taken another step in discouraging kickoffs in college football. For example, officials involved in the replay process could be located in a conference office. A timeout can be used to avoid a 10-second runoff.

"Leaping rules on field goals and extra points were adjusted to mirror similar rules regarding leaping the shield on punting plays".

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