For its upcoming issue featuring NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the cover, Time Magazine has reported that Goodell has spoken with Rich McKay, who heads the league's competition committee, about a radical change to the way the NFL approaches kickoffs.
Former Rutgers head coach and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano has long championed a re-imagining of the way the NFL approaches kickoffs, but accounts from the interview brought his idea further into the national focus.
According to the report, a kickoff would become a 4th-and-15 situation from the offense's 30-yard line. The team possessing the ball would have the choice of punting or running an offensive play with one attempt at achieving a first down, essentially trading one high-risk, high-reward play, the onside kick, for similarly low-probability, but safer, option.
"It's different and makes you think differently. It did me," Goodell said.
Should the rule be adopted by the NCAA in its current form, and thus far there has been no indication it will be, it would represent a radical change to the game. In FBS, the 62nd-best net punting unit (representing the exact middle of FBS membership), averages 36.7 yards per punt. That number translates to an average starting field position of the 33-yard line.
The NCAA tweaked its kickoff rule before the 2012 season, bringing touchbacks out five yards further to the 25-yard line. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the rule had prompted an increase in touchbacks from 16.5 to 38 percent but, through five weeks of the season, the average starting field position had moved only from the 28-yard line to the 27.