The NCAA Football Rules Committee is taking a hard look into more efforts that would make college football safer. Its latest proposal would add a significant tweak on kickoffs with the intention of reducing the number of hits a return man takes.
On Friday, the committee proposed that any fair catch made inside the 25-yard line by the receiving team on a kickoff would result in a touchback, which would bring the ball out to the 25-yard line.
The recommendation will be discussed by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel in April.
"The committee discussed the kickoff play at great length and we will continue to work to find ways to improve the play," committee chair and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said in a statement. "We believe making one change will allow us to study the effect of this change in terms of player safety."
In practice, the proposal would reduce the number of kickoffs intentionally kicked high and short, just as it would better protect any player who calls for a fair catch on kickoffs that don't go into the end zone. It's just the latest idea to dilute the kickoff's impact. In 2012, kickoffs were moved up to the 35-yard line and touchbacks were moved up to the 25-yard line.
There may come a point when kickoffs are eliminated altogether, and there's a fundamental debate within football as to whether that should happen. For now, the NCAA is exploring ways to make kickoffs less harmful.