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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Richt favors eliminating kickoffs

Mark Richt is another coach who supports eliminating kickoffs, although he doesn’t fall fully in step with the proposal by Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.

And one of Richt’s own Georgia players is in complete opposition to the proposal.

Schiano recently proposed that the kickoff – considered to be the most dangerous play in football – be eliminated altogether. Schiano suggests that it be replaced with a fourth-and-15 situation from the 30, with teams being given the option to punt or go for it.

The motivation for Schiano’s proposal stemmed from his player, Eric LeGrand, being paralyzed on a kickoff last year. Richt, who also had a player suffer a serious injury on a kickoff, is of a like mind.

“I think if it went to a vote, I would vote for no kickoff also,” Richt said Tuesday, while attending a media day for football coaches in the state. “I would just place the ball on the 23-yard line, or whatever it is, whatever the average has been. I’m sure defensive coaches would want it on the 18, and offensive coaches would want it on the 30.”

Richt recalled that when he started coaching he was in the booth and wasn’t involved in special teams. It was only when he moved down to the field that he saw how potentially violent a full-speed kickoff could be.

“Being up in the booth you just can’t sense the speed and the violence of the hits,” Richt said. “Then when I became the head coach at Georgia and now I’m standing on the sideline, and I’m watching it from me to you, it is violent, it is very physical. You’ve got a bunch of guys that can run strong. They’re fast, and they’re not afraid. It’s kind of a manhood thing: No one’s gonna back down.”

The wedge block – where essentially two players block one – has already been outlawed, a move Richt called “wise.”

Richt said he hasn’t spoken to other coaches about the issue. But he remembered back to Decory Bryant, whose career ended in 2003 after a neck injury on a kickoff.

“We had a young man get hurt on that also, which ended his playing career. So I’m not all that excited about it,” said Richt, who also acknowledged how hard it would be to get people on board with the change. “It is an exciting play. It’s probably gonna be a bigger story than it should be. I don’t think it’s gonna happen anytime soon, I don’t. It’d be a major, major rule change, no doubt.”

So major a rule change that it would certainly have a lot of opposition – including from Christian Robinson, the defensive captain for Georgia.

“I think that would just take away a lot of plays that are game-changing. It’s a dangerous sport,” he said. “Excitement. The first play. Everybody wants kickoffs. You don’t just line up and play. That first kickoff when the crowd’s going wild. And if you eliminate that you’re eliminating a part of the game.”

Robinson, a junior, pointed out that plenty of players who get to play on kickoff who wouldn’t otherwise. He played on the unit his first two seasons at Georgia.

“If they eliminate that, that’d be very disappointing,” Robinson said. “That’s how I got a bunch of my tackles. Coaches tried me on kickoff and I got more time on defense. So that’d be disappointing if they got rid of it. Because I know that’s where a lot of players get their confidence and get their start.”


Chris said...

Have comments been disabled? What happened to this blog??

watcher16 said...

Punts are just as dangerous

Scoreboard said...

Tyrone Prothro had his career ended receiving a pass. Should we outlaw the forward pass as well?

Russ said...

One word - stupid.

Anonymous said...

Just more American wussiness. Greg Schiano – the Rutger’s coach, started this idea because of his player who was paralyzed last year on a kickoff play. It’s the only kickoff play paralysis I can remember. I can name three other terrible paralyzing injuries off the top of my head that were not on kickoffs. Daryl Stingley – injured as pass receiver. Chucky Mullen – injured tackling a fullback – he later died. Mark Buonticonti – injured tackling running back. Looks like running plays should be banned. Let’s just make it flag football. Of course, most paralysis injuries occur in auto accidents, so let’s ban cars, right?

Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog said...

Tackling seems pretty dangerous, too, don't you think?

Maybe defenses should be limited to requesting ballcarriers to kindly, please, fall down.

Like the British cops armed with whistles rather than guns when dealing with desperate criminals, maybe linebackers can yell at running backs "Halt, or I'll toot!"

William said...

I dont mean this to sound unsympathetic but maybe while richt is at it he can talk to some folks about get the outfielders in baseball not to be able to chase after the ball there is a case to support that too

conn3134 said...

I hate to say this, but this attitude from Mark Richt is one more example of a playing afraid mentality. Guys, this is a violent sport! Not for the meek and timid. leads to practicing afraid (see where that got us) playing afraid, (look at the last two seasons) playing not to lose instead of playing to win!! I'm sorry, but there are "danger! danger! Will Robinson" events in daily life, yet we still walk out the door every day! Practice to fight, Fight to play, Play to win! If coaches at UGA cannot instill that do or die attitude in their players, and those players cannot take the field with the mental toughness and preparation required for v-i-c-t-o-r-y then why are they all there. Injuries are very unfortunate when they happen, but get real! SEC football isn't a skirmish, it's a WAR!
Love Mark Richt, but this is rediculous1

Jonathan said...

I agree i love Mark Richt, never met the guy but i've heard he's a nice guy and loveable guy, but eliminating kickoffs is ridiculous, why don't we elminiate tackling or blocking?? football is supposed to be for the strong and is supposed to be a rough sport, injuries are part of playing sports

Joeski said...

I am forced to wonder how many of you people saying that football 'is a violent sport' actually played the game competitively beyond the Pop Warner level.

There is a huge difference between tackling on a regular play and a kid hitting another kid after getting a 30 yard running start, so don't try to equate eliminating kickoffs to eliminating tackling-- you're just making yourself look silly.

Am I for eliminating kickoffs? Not necessarily, but I think that it's reasonable to investigate the possibility and see if there is statistical evidence that it would reduce injuries. Ultimately, football will still be exciting, and we'll still cheer, kickoffs or not.