Nick Saban weighs in on whether kickoffs should be eliminated
Nick Saban arguably has the most powerful voice in college athletics, and when he speaks on major issues, folks take note and listen.
As part of ESPN’s “Car Wash,” Saban sat down for the first time with Paul Finebaum following the Media Days dustup, and things were comical to start.
— Alex Byington (@abyingtonTD) July 19, 2016
One of the biggest topics in college football right now is talk of whether to eliminate kickoffs. Saban was asked about that very topic on College Football Live.
“Well, I think that anything involving player’s safety, you have to respect,” Saban said. “I’m a traditionalist, so I would hate to see them change, or take out the kickoff or change rules that would significantly impact the game. But when it comes to player’s safety, I think that trumps all of the above. Maybe move the yard line where you get more kicks kicked out of the end zone (…) There is strategy involved in kickoffs and kickoff returns that is pretty significant to the game, but again, player’s safety trumps it all. There may be other ways to solve the problem so you can still kick an onside kick or do something that doesn’t change the strategy of the game as much.”
CBS Sports reported Monday that talks are starting to happen.
Both the American Football Coaches Association’s board of trustees and the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee have at least had informal talks about the possibility.
The reason: player safety.
“I don’t think there is any doubt it is the most dangerous play in the game,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, chairman of that oversight committee. “How much that’s the case and how we can fix it is unknown.”
Both entities are reviewing injury data to gauge the impact of kickoffs. Preliminary indications are that injuries occur at a higher rate on kickoffs, according to sources.
It will be interesting to see where talks end up on this topic.