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College Football Rule Change Suggestions Part 2: Field Goals are Stupid

If you missed the intro, it is here.

Are you ready for the first rule change suggestion?

"Hell yes we are."

While it might work best to ease into these rule change suggestions and start with something easy like "requiring two feet to be inbounds for a reception", let's go the other way and blow the whole scoring system up... let's get rid of field goals. Ya, I said typed it!  Let's remove all those out-of-place looking yellow poles from behind every endzone, let's send all the Vinatieri's to the unemployment office, and in turn, let's have the final score actually represent the most important football related things that happened during a game. Stay with me here...

What is a football game all about? When you think of a game of football, doesn't your mind wander into a world of  genital-tingling literature about the "field of battle", 11 men beating each other up, discovering something deep within themselves, pushing through obstacles, eating mud, wiping blood, and on and on with the alliteration?  Isn't that romantic notion of the sport what draws us all in?  And If so, why oh why do we allow around 24% of the point production to be removed from those warriors, and instead hinge on some converted soccer player kicking the ball through some arbitrary markers?

As I stated many times in the intro post, we only understand and love football because we have grown up with it, someone who learned about football last year would not love it now as they are still trying to understand it, so try to remove all these years of football watching from your mind, and really take a look at what happens on the field. 99.999% of fans interest in the game is focused on the matchup of the offensive and defensive personnel, and 99.9999999% of the effort in the game is put in by the offensive, defensive, and non-kicker special teams players, yet these athletes only account for 76% of what shows up on the scoreboard. Are we really alright with this?

The natural counterargument to this is that those offensive and defensive players are a part of the kicking game as they are responsible for either getting the kicker close enough to improve his odds of making the FG, or keeping the him further away to make a kick impossible or at least tougher. And sure, that is part of the game, but as Boise St fans can attest to, there is still a dude at the end of the possession, that had nothing at all to do with getting the ball to where it is, who has to come through. 

As with all aspects of the game of football, they are included mostly because over time there was a need that was met by that aspect.  In the case of field goals, they actually were the most important part of the game when it was first invented, and the only way to score.  In the beginning, the object of an offensive possession was much closer to rugby or Aussie rules where the teams tried to get as close to the goalposts as possible, then make a kick that was worth 5 points. That was the only way to score, and the FG attempt was made by one of the offensive players, so the field goal was worked into the action in a much more organic way. Then as offenses developed and football began to differentiate itself more from rugby, the touchdown became the main method of scoring, with field goals being relegated to a three point consolation prize (if you make it) for being stopped on your drive deep into enemy territory.  And now that the game has developed even further, the act of kicking a field goal looks completely out of place compared to what the rest of the game has become, and field goal kickers have taken their place as the most ill-fitting personnel on the roster.

So, let's go back to the idea of a field goal being a consolation prize for a drive moving deep into enemy territory, but not quite making the end zone.  I am fully on board with rewarding a long drive with some points, but why do we do it by allowing the offense to attempt, what now seems like, an arbitrary action that has no real connection to the rest of the game of football?  Honestly, the act of kicking a ball through some uprights has as much connection to the rest of the action in a football game as the halftime show.  With the advancement of the game, the field goal has morphed into an aspect that is no longer related to any other part of the sport, and some skinny kid with one discernible skill that is in no way related to any other part of football, who practices on his own time, sits apart from the team on the bench, and typically keeps to himself off the field, gets to decide whether an offense will be rewarded for their drive, and in some cases, which team gets to win the game.  Field goal kicking is an aspect of the sport that is just begging for a change that will allow the three-point reward for a long drive to be replaced with something that actually seems football related.

Alright, that is the end of my argument against the field goal, but since I did state that there should be a way to attain points without scoring a touchdown, we need to move on to what the replacement for field goals could be.  First off, extra points are gone, you either get 7 points for a TD, or you can try for 8 with the conversion from the three yard line.  As for the replacement of the traditional field goal, I have two ideas:

  1. The most simple. Create scoring zones on the field, with the idea being that when you cross a certain line, you get that many points.
    This would be the most basic example, the offense gets three points if their drive expires inside the 30 yard line, and they have to give up their 4th down to take the points.  And really... isn't this the way we think of field goals now anyway?  If we already feel like a team getting to the 30 should be an automatic 3 points, why do we go through the charade of watching a guy kick a ball?
    OR we could get even more complicated with it. How about this:
    This one would be hella-fun from a strategy standpoint. So many decisions for coaches to make once their team gets inside the 30.
    Whatever system the choice is to switch to, we are basically keeping the same ideology in place of an offense being rewarded for getting deep into enemy territory but not scoring a touchdown, we are just removing the element of putting the entire onus of attaining those points on the shoulders of a kicker-guy who has nothing else to do with the game, and putting it on the shoulders of the offense and defense.
  2. This one is kinda out there, but we are just throwing ideas around, right... just think-tanking this horrible idea... right everyone?  Alright then.  What if instead of goal posts behind the endzone, we put a target like the ones in the QB skills challenge....
    like this, but 1000 times less awful looking
    ... and make it worth three points if the quarterback can throw the ball through the target. This throw would replace the field goal.  Now think about this for a minute, we do a bunch of studies and make the target a specific size so that an average college QB would easily hit the target from inside the 5, have a decent chance from about the 20, a tough but make-able throw from the 30, and an almost impossible time hitting it from the 40... this would mimic the field goal kicking difficulty of now, but someone that is actually involved in the offense is in control of the scoring play instead of some kicker. 
    Great idea right?... Let's take it a step further....imagine this wrinkle, the QB can throw it through the 3 point target at any time during any play.  It doesn't have to be a specially designated "we are going for the field goal" play like FG kicking basically is now.  So for example, it is 4th and goal from the 10, the QB could drop back, look for an open receiver, then if he doesn't find one, try to hit the 3 point target.... hell he could do it on 1st down if he felt like it.  This allows the three point scoring to be a totally organic element to the game as it occurs during the course of normal plays. And if you think putting some target in the end zone would be gaudy or strange looking, imagine if the game had always been played without 30 foot high, bright yellow posts sticking out of the end zone, then all of a sudden one day they are there.  Once again, football rules only seems normal and make sense to us because we have been watching it our whole lives.

That is all for the first rule change suggestion, thanks for sticking with all 1500 words of it.... now someone go tell Tim Sydnes that his specialty is now extinct.