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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Time to Abolish Icing the Kicker Rule

This past weekend the Houston Texans beat the Washington Redskins in overtime thanks to the sleuthing maneuverings of coach Gary Kubiak. In the opening weekend of the college football season, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham made the same move and saw it backfire. Regardless of the outcome, the trick needs to go.

Icing the kicker.

You’ve seen it happen plenty of times before. One team is losing but setting up for a potential game-winning field goal. The other team has timeouts to burn (like taking money to the grave, extra timeouts are useless), and they decide to spend one right as the kicker is approaching the ball to attempt his kick.

Whether the kick was made or missed does not matter; the process will have to be repeated after the timeout. Some coaches will try calling a second timeout if they have ones to spare (this can backfire in the NFL and result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty). Or it can result in a “d’oh!” as it did with Utah, because opponent Pitt missed its second field goal but was spared by the timeout which allows for a do-over.

Regardless of the situation, the rule should be abolished.

Timeouts are intended to stop play and give the team a chance to re-group and sort themselves out. They can also be used to give the team a breather if the players seem to be gassed. The true intention of timeouts wasn’t so a kicker would be forced to re-attempt the same kick.

Much like spiking the football (which really is intentionally grounding), there is no place for the timeout that allows coaches to freeze the kicker.

If not simply because it’s a completely unnecessary play, then maybe the rule should be eliminated just to eradicate the possibility of seeing another Mark Dantonio-like heart attack for one of the coaches involved. There’s no place for icing the kicker in football.

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