“Where’s the stats?”

There seems to be some resistance in the coaching ranks to eliminating kickoffs.  I almost hate to say it, but Bobby Petrino has a point.

“They always come out and say it would help with concussions but nobody shows you the statistics,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “Does it really help? One year we didn’t like that the ball was being kicked out of the end zone so we moved it back so we’d get more returns. It’s kind of who’s the special interest on it. It’s always been a big part of the football game, but if it is causing injuries and it’s something that we need to take away to improve that, we could get away with it. But is it really?”

We know why the chatter’s there.  The NCAA is finally waking up, not out of some idealistic concern about players’ well being, but because the lawsuit threat is gaining serious traction.  Petrino’s right to insist that a knee-jerk reaction to that isn’t the best way to address the problem.  It’s just that it’s all the NCAA’s got right now to show the world — okay, plaintiffs’ lawyers — that it cares.

I hate to drag the NFL into the discussion, but if the schools want to show they’re truly getting serious, maybe the conferences ought to take a page out of this book and start fining the crap out of programs that don’t adhere to strict concussion policies.  Money seems to be the one language that every school understands these days.


Filed under The Body Is A Temple

23 responses to ““Where’s the stats?”

  1. TheCasey

    I hate agreeing with Petrino too, but I do. I’m still not 100% sure that the occasional big head shot on a kickoff does more long-term damage than, say, linemen take with multiple smaller hits to the head over the course of a game.

    But I’ve also wanted to see numbers like “% of Kickoff plays leading to a concussion” v. “% of Scrimmage plays leading to a concussion”. It bugs me that they won’t put that out there, since it would make a compelling argument. That makes me think that there’s no difference, but the hits on kickoffs look worse, so you get a bigger PR bump than, say, mandating better helmets.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. JCDAWG83

    First, they moved the kickoff from the 40 to the 35 to create more returns. When kickers got stronger/better, they moved the kickback line of scrimmage from the 20 to the 25 to encourage fewer touchbacks and more returns. Now, they say kickoff returns are a major cause of injuries and concussions and should possibly be done away with.

    Here’s a crazy idea. How about we move the kickoff back to the 40 and the touchback line of scrimmage back to the 20?

    • JCDAWG83

      Touchback line of scrimmage, not kickback.

    • I would agree with this except you might as well just put the ball on the 20 with no play. Good high school soccer players (I mean kickers) consistently kick the ball into the end zone from the 40 now.

      I don’t want to lose the excitement of the kickoff return. It can be a momentum changing play, but without the data, how can anyone make an intelligent decision about it?

      I would be interested in seeing the data by division. I would have to assume that the lower divisions likely have a higher injury rate because the kickers aren’t as good to kick the ball into the end zone consistently.

  3. Russ

    Give the kicking team 1-2 points for a kickoff through the goal posts, and the receiving team gets the ball on the 25. That would encourage more touch backs and retain a little excitement in the play.

  4. Macallanlover

    Being on the opposite side of Petrino makes my position even more ingrained. Should eliminate kickoffs immediately, before September, or move the kickoff to the 50 yard line so the only kicks in the field of play are onside kicks, or maybe pooch kicks with less speed built up before collisions. The downside of the current system is much greater than any upside, I see no reason to continue them.

    • JCDAWG83

      What specific statistics on injuries on kickoffs are you basing your position on? Will you want pass plays banned next? It seems to me there are a lot of injuries on pass plays. What about knee injuries to running backs on sweeps? Should runs outside the tackles be banned?

      Football is a sport with risk of injury. The only way to make it completely safe is to stop playing it altogether.

      • Macallanlover

        I will ignore the silliness of all your questions except your initial one. There is, and never will be a way to measure this statistically as you cannot know the number of head shots that are taken on a given play, you can only know the ones that stay down. Concussions are generally a cumulative effect injury, rarely a single shot to the head; and this is more what the lawsuits are about. Of course you cannot legislate all injuries out of football, and few have that as the intention. But the current design of the kickoff play is the only one designed to put athletes in a full sprint towards each other, from opposite directions, for up to 65 yards apart. Violent collisions occur sporadically throughout a football game, but only this one is set up to insure it. The value of leaving it is disproportionate to the risk, imo.

        • Macallanlover

          And I should add, concussions are not the only injury that is involved. Shoulder separations, knees, and ankles are at greater risk in full speed collisions from opposite directions. With more teams using 1st teamers on kickoffs, the risk is simply unnecessary to both athletes and the team.

        • JCDAWG83

          If there is no way to accurately measure the number of injuries, how can any conclusion be drawn to create a rule? if concussions are cumulative effect injuries, there should be a rule that a player can only play for so many snaps a game if the intent is to reduce concussions. Until the “no kickoff” crowd can come up with some sort of evidence that more injuries occur on kickoffs than on other plays, their idea of doing away with kickoffs is silly.

          I think a better argument could be made for doing away with punts. On a punt, a player stands in the field of play, alone, waiting for the ball to come to him while several opposing players descend on him at full speed. This seems much more dangerous than a player receiving a kickoff with his whole team in front of him blocking.

          Football cannot be made “safe”, it is a collision sport and collisions sometimes result in injuries. The only way to make it safe would be to eliminate the collisions and then, it would no longer be a sport with any fan appeal. Even improved helmet design cannot eliminate concussions. The physics of a concussion could exist even if helmets were the size of small cars and filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts.

      • Uglydawg

        Maybe we could have “walking speed only” kickoffs and punts. All 22 players are required to walk through the play. Think of it…a defensive player getting stiff-armed by a runner while walking.

    • Otto

      You never know how a squib kick on side kick, or dropped ball can change a game. They should leave it alone or move it back to the 40 with the touchback being the 20.

      They should have enforced the existing spearing rules years ago rather than have a knee jerk reaction to a problem slack officiating, and the following poor technique in tackling created.

  5. Debby Balcer

    Hate to agree with Petrino but I do too. Knee jerk reactions often create problems just as bad as the ones they supposedly solve. After they get rid of this play that causes the mosy concussions they have a new number 1 cause of concussions to go after. Make the game safer but but don’t change it from football.

  6. Uglydawg

    Have ‘flag football” on kickoffs. Everyone puts on a belt with two flags and when the player with the ball has his flag pulled, he is down. Then we can do the same with punts. Make it “two hand tag, below the belt”…then on passes over the middle, where the most injuries seem to happen, it can be “one hand touch anywhere”.

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    Fishfry is happy nobody is talking about knee injuries.

  8. Bright Idea

    This making the game safer from concussions conversation has been going on for awhile now with targeting and other rules being added or modified. It is now starting to sound like the need to keep attacking football without analyzing anything to see if the game has indeed gotten more safe. Eliminating kickoffs will change the game considerably without saving a significant number of head injuries IMO. If we are striving for zero injuries in football to avoid lawsuits that is impossible.

  9. GATA

    After watching CMR’s abysmal kickoff game the last several years I know why he was driving the no kickoff bandwagon. Interesting to see his kickoff game down at the U

  10. DawgPhan

    change the rule to the ball can fly no farther than 20 yards in the air, move the kick off line to 40, and make it where the ball is live after 5 yards. Also treat the kick off more like a regular play. No movement before the kick towards the line of scrimmage for the kicking team.

    • JCDAWG83

      Other than the 20 yd thing, I could live with all of that. No way I want a ref deciding when a ball goes 20 yards when they can’t keep up with a lineman going 3 yards downfield.

      • DawgPhan

        there isnt nearly as much wiggle room in 20 yards from the kick off. The ball starts at the 40 and has to hit the ground before it gets to the other 40. If not, penalty or spot the ball and keep it moving.