The Playing Rules Oversight Panel for the NCAA has made some changes for the 2012 college football season, and they're for the better.
Greg Johnson of NCAA.org reports that kickoffs will be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line, touchbacks will now be placed at the 25-yard line as opposed to the 20-yard line and, if a player loses their helmet, they must sit out the next play.
Touchbacks on punts rolling into the end zone or fumbles into the end zone will remain at the 20-yard line.
Other rule changes deal with blocking and leaping.
The rules panel also approved new wording in the football rules book regarding blocking below the waist. Offensive players in the tackle box at the snap who are not in motion are allowed to block below the waist legally without restriction. All other players are restricted from blocking below the waist with a few exceptions (for example, straight-ahead blocks).
There will also be a new rule prohibiting players from leaping over blockers in an attempt to block a punt.
These are all great changes for college football. The purpose is to help with player safety, as the report states NCAA data showed that "injuries during kickoffs occur more often than in other phases of the game."
The NFL recently moved the kickoff to the 35-yard line, which resulted in a ton of touchbacks this past season. They did not, however, move the touchbacks to the 25-yard line, which was a brilliant move by the NCAA.
Kick returns are a very exciting part of the game, and they will still occur. Meanwhile, if a strong-legged kicker does boom it out of the end zone, the opposing team now gets five more yards, which has to please everyone.
While some would like kickoffs to be removed from the game altogether, that just isn't going to happen.
Not any time soon, at least.
Less injuries should result from these changes, as more touchbacks are bound to happen. Just like we saw in the NFL last year, though, look for some players to try to test their luck from deep in the end zone.
With so many dynamic game-changers returning kicks in college football, there shouldn't be a significant drop off in breathtaking returns.
The NCAA is looking out for the players and trying to avoid serious injuries by making these changes. It's a great move for college football, as safety should always be the top priority for young student-athletes.