NCAA approves new fair catch rule that will drastically change kickoffs
On Friday, the NCAA announced that the Playing Rules Oversight Panel had approved a major change to kickoffs in the name of safety.
According to a report on NCAA.com, kickoffs can now be fair caught anywhere between the goal line and 25-yard line and be treated like a touchback, putting the ball on the 25 for the offense.
The report stated that fewer injuries occur on kickoffs that end in touchbacks:
The Football Rules Committee made the proposal to continue efforts to increase the number of touchbacks during kickoffs since fewer injuries occur during kickoffs that result in touchbacks than on kickoffs that are returned. All other aspects of the kickoff play will remain the same.
How this affects in-game strategy this fall remains to be seen, but it will surely change the way teams approach kickoffs for the future.
Taking the ball at the 25 may become a near-default option for teams in the coming years, though, as the risks of a return are starting to vastly outweigh the rewards.