Can you imagine football without kickoffs?
Well, you might not need to imagine much longer, as discussions about eliminating kickoffs in college football have begun, according to a report from CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.
For several years now, kickoffs and the injuries that result from kickoffs have been a talking point at all levels of football. With hopes of reducing severe injuries that happen when players come flying down the field at one another at full speed, the NFL and the NCAA changed the yard line at which the ball is kicked off in recent years to drive up the number of touchbacks.
But, of course, eliminating kickoffs entirely would be a far more drastic step. And if player safety is truly the goal, it could most definitely be the right move.
Dodd reports that both the American Football Coaches Association's board of trustees and the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee have talked about the possibility of removing kickoffs from the game, and he wrote that while both groups continue to review injury data, "preliminary indications are that injuries occur at a higher rate on kickoffs."
Anyone who's watched football can understand why that is, and plenty of fans and observers have watched as injured players receive medical attention following kickoffs.
One of the most notable college football injuries in recent history, the paralysis of former Rutgers lineman Eric LeGrand, occurred on a kickoff play.
Dodd reported that changes to the kickoff rules likely won't come until after the 2017 season. But if the game's leaders are serious about reducing injuries, we could soon be living in a post-kickoff world.
Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.
Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football.
"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.
"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.
"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline."
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."
"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.
"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."
Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.
Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.
As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.
Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.
The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.