Kicking around some rule changes

That was a terrific OUA championship football game in Guelph yesterday that the
overzealous game officials almost found a way to ruin.
-- Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun

It's a matter of concern when a promiment sports columnist in the country's media capital's remarks on the Yates Cup, the OUA's signature sports event, involve dodgy officiating and the "bad" rule that a player who returns a punt or missed field goal "out of the end zone to the two-yard line and his team automatically gets the ball at the 20."

Simmons is pot-stirring, sure, but there's merit to his remarks. It seems like the reward for, as he says, bringing the ball a couple yards out of the end zone is out of all proportion to the deed itself. (Correction on myself: Teams now get the 20-yard line for an interception in the end zone, but isn't that more of an impressive act than catching a missed field goal?)

The CIS really needs to look a lot of the rules regarding the kicking game and scoring. Here's a few that should be addressed and by no way am I married to any of these ideas:

  1. Move the kickoff back: The game has evolved to the point where kicking from the 45-yard line is an holdover from the days when everyone played more than one position and star players such Neil Lumsden also handled the kicking duties. Now every team has a kicking specialist who can boom the ball. Some teams have two.

    How many times do you see underdog teams get pinned inside the 25, go two-and-out and punt, setting up the Lavals of the world with a short field? For a league that constantly faces questions about parity, they should do more to level the playing field.

    Move the kickers back to the 40 next season, and back to the 35 in five years or so.
  2. Discourage the conceded safety: It's just not anyone's idea of fun to watch the punter do the Safety Dance while the punt rushers half-heartedly chase him, no matter how much you liked Men Without Hats back in the day.

    Sure, it's two points for the other guys, but a team can gain up to 74 yards in field position. Simple change: Move the kickoff following the safety back to the 25-yard line from the 35. Oh, and if the team elects to forgo the kickoff and scrimmage the ball, move that up. Midfield seems about right.
  3. Tweak the out-to-the-20 rule: There's no arguing that the idea of rewarding teams for electing to run the ball out of the end zone has value. Three missed field goals have been returned for touchdowns in these playoffs, which is a hell of a lot more exciting than a guy taking a knee.

    With the old rule, St. FX's Jon Hood probably never would have attempted the return that became an 128-yard touchdown in the X-Men's win over Acadia; he'd have just given up the point.

    Guaranteeing the returning team the 10-yard line (some security, but still in the shadow of its goal posts) for running the ball out seems like an acceptable compromise. Another way to encourage returns is to no longer bring the ball out to the 35 after a single, but maybe just the 25. Keep the current 15-yard difference for not giving up a point.
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  1. Why should we let Steve Simmon's opinion make us consider changing CIS rules. The rule which gives the returner the ball on the 20 is better than the "take a knee" approach and give a single point, for a missed field goal, in the CFL. I'd be surprised if Simmons has seen more than 2 CIS games this year - his opinion, along with other national media who ignore CIS football, means jack shit to me.

  2. well, when that's the only thing a guy with influence says, it's telling.

    Overall, though, most of that has come straight from Mr. Sager's noggin. He's wrong on the guaranteed-20 rule... the fact is there's been three missed field goals returned for TDs in the these playoffs, and with the CFL rule, at least one of those runbacks never would have been attempted.