Are new NFL rule changes coming to college football? Don’t be surprised

The current hot topic in the world of sports is the recent rule changes approved by the National Football League earlier this week at the owners meetings.

Starting in 2024, the league is banning the hip-drop tackle, in which a player uses his weight to bring the ball carrier down to the ground by his waist. The NFL is also overhauling the kickoff format, adopting an XFL variation.

Kickers will continue to kick from the 35-yard line, but the other 10 players on the kicking team will line up at the opponent’s 40-yard line. At least nine members of the return team will line up in the setup zone between their own 30- and 35-yard lines. Up to two returners will line up in the landing zone, which is between the goal line and 20-yard line.

Here’s a diagram to help you visualize the NFL’s new kickoff play:

While this is obviously an NFL topic, it isn’t hard to see a future where these changes trickle down to the college level. Earlier this week, I talked on the “Sco-ing Long” podcast with my co-host Jonathan Stewart, an Oregon legend and former Pro Bowl running back with the Carolina Panthers, to get his take on the changes.

“First of all, I understand. But, what are we doing here? Are we becoming the XFL?” Stewart said. “I understand it from the standpoint that there was this dead product on the field in kickoff returns. Everyone was kicking it out of the end zone. The problem with that is it’s now going to be harder for the kickoff unit to stop the kickoff return. It should be hard to get first downs. It should be hard to get yards. It should be hard to score points. Now you’re taking the element of defense out of the game.”

Ultimately, we are likely to see an uptick in production from an offensive perspective, not only due to the kickoff rules leading to better field position, but because of the banning of the hip-drop tackle that led to injuries over the years.

Personally, I don’t know that this is a bad thing, because kickoffs did become irrelevant over the years. It was a touchback every time, which led to viewers tuning out after a touchdown and going to get refreshments or use the restroom. I don’t know that I’m completely against this. It’s going to take a little bit to get used to the look of it and to see where these guys are lining up now, but the end product may see a marked improvement.

If we see that improvement at the NFL level, how long until we see the changes at the college level?

“If this sticks around for 2-3 years in the NFL, I can definitely see it transferring,” Stewart said.

For those who aren’t excited by the potential change, I don’t think you have anything to worry about for the next couple of years. At this point, it feels like the world of college football has enough going on, from name, image, and likeness, the transfer portal, and conference realignment, to an ever-expanding College Football Playoff. The bandwidth simply may not exist currently to put these new rules into place in due time.

A few years down the road, though? Things may look different.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire