NCAA Approves New Kickoff Rule That Results in Touchback When Fair Catch is Called Inside The 25-Yard Line

By James Grega on April 13, 2018 at 3:46 pm
Ohio State football

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved an alteration of football's kickoff on Friday afternoon. 

Originally proposed in March, a kickoff will result in a touchback if a player calls for and makes a fair catch inside the 25-yard line.


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.

The new rule is the latest in a series of changes the committee has made in recent years in hopes of making the play safer. Before the 2012 season, kickoffs were moved from the 30-yard line to the 35. The committee also changed the starting position on touchbacks that year so that the receiving team started its drive on the 25-yard line instead of the 20.

Other rule changes that were passed on Friday include a rule that pertains to blocks below the waist and the play clock being set to 40 seconds following a touchdown in order to "expedite the extra point or two-point conversion attempt. Additionally, following a kickoff, the play clock will be set to 40 seconds to restart play more quickly."

The NCAA also made minor adjustments to the replay review process. 

  • The addition of a 10-second runoff was approved when instant replay overturns the ruling on the field inside of one minute in either half, and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock.
  • The panel approved the continuation of an experimental collaborative decision-making model for instant replay that is not limited to the press box in the stadium. For example, officials involved in the replay process could be located in a conference office.

Among the new rule changes, the kickoff rule appears to effect Ohio State the most. Urban Meyer's "coffin corner" philosophy on kickoffs has been in place since he came to Columbus. The Buckeyes routinely attempt to kick the ball into the near side of the field between the hashmark and the sideline, in an effort to cover the kick faster and pin opponents deep. 

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