A paralyzing injury suffered during a kickoff by Rutgers Scarlet Knights defender Eric LeGrand helped convince coach Greg Schiano to recommend replacing kickoffs with punts in the interest of reducing injuries. Credit Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt among those willing to look past the way we always done it and weigh player safety over excitement and tradition.
While Schiano thinks a scoring team should be given the ball facing a fourth-and-15 from their own 30 -- thereby also turning onside kicks into actual football plays instead of measured scrums -- Richt wonders whether simply placing the ball at the 23 would be the best idea. Schiano's idea sounds like a win-win, in that it would actually produce better football while also being safer, but at least Richt doesn't dismiss the need for progress.
Richt recalled Georgia CB Decory Bryant's career-ending 2003 spinal injury, suffered during a kickoff against the UAB Blazers. That mishap led to a legal battle between the player and the school that wasn't resolved until last year.
I could see a west coast conference eventually trying out a compromise that limited kickoffs only to the beginning of each half. The play is unnecessary and not worth the level of risk it adds to an already violent game, but too many are going to complain about the sport's wussification -- nevermind that we're talking about a sport that's been introducing more and more safety rules for a century now.
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