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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Nick Saban wants college football to move kickoffs up five yards

Nick Saban

Alabama coach Nick Saban has an idea to make kickoffs safer for players while also ensuring that the play retains some strategy.

The NCAA recently passed a rule change that will now allow for players to call for a fair catch on kickoffs which would result in the ball automatically being placed at the 25-yard line. The aim is to enhance player safety.

Saban gets it, but he also thinks this kills a lot of strategy and has his own ideas.

“I would have liked to have seen a different solution,” Saban said, via Michael Wayne Bratton of Saturday Down South. “I understand the reason, I respect the reason — which is player safety, but I guess I’ve been around long enough to remember when we use to kick off from the 40-yard line. There were too many touchbacks, so we moved it back to the 35.

“So, for us old timers, I thought it would be an easier solution to just move it back up to the 40-yard line, because you’d get more touchbacks but you could still sky kick, onside kick — which you can still do some of those things, but you sky kick trying to give someone bad field position and they can fair catch the ball on the 15-yard line and get it on the 25.

“That takes some of the strategy out of the game, to me, with the result that we had. And you would have had the same result if you just moved it up five yards because almost everybody in college football would kick nothing but touchbacks… and you still would have all the strategies that you could have used in other circumstances.”

Saban’s wish for strategic kickoffs isn’t coming true, and there might not be any kickoffs at all within the next decade or so. The NFL is already headed in that direction, and this rule change is an indicator that the college game may do the same.

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