Unfazed by altered kickoff rule, Gary Patterson still worries about football's future

College football is trying to make its game safer, but how long before it's not the game we grew up watching?

So far, the changes have been universally praised by coaches, including the latest alteration to the kickoff rules.

In 2018, receiving teams on kickoffs will be allowed to fair catch kicks inside the 25-yard line for touchbacks, after the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the change two weeks ago. Simply put, it's an effort to decrease injuries that occur during kickoffs.

"I have no problem with that whatsoever," TCU coach Gary Patterson said during Tuesday morning's Big 12 teleconference. "I've always felt like the best thing to do was to kick it out of the end zone anyway."

The only real effect in strategy the change will cause, Patterson said, is the inability for teams to try to place a kick near the end zone after recording a safety. He also raised a mild concern that the change could favor teams without a strong-legged kicker.

Mostly, however, he expressed concern that the essence of the game could be altered with more changes made for safety.

"It’s been a part of the game for 100 years," Patterson said. "Long kickoff guy is maybe not as important as they used to be."

There are some who expect,especially considering similar rules changes in the NFL, that kickoffs will eventually be eliminated.

"The hard part of our game is it's a physical game," Patterson said. "When do you get to the point where it's not the same game when it started? How do you compensate for all that?"

Before the 2012 season, kickoffs were moved to the 35-yard line from the 30 and touchbacks gave the offense the ball at the 25, instead of the 20.

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