It seems every year as more information is available on the internet, more and more college football fans are able to follow high school players and follow which teams they are visiting and which teams they sign with. National Signing Day has now become such a big deal that is covered by the media. A lot of the top high school prospects even have press conferences announcing where they will go to school. Like many College Football fans, I too have been following players that are interested in my favorite team, the Florida Gators. I was thrilled when the top rated quarterback in the nation, Tim Tebow, chose Florida over Alabama. When players are being recruited next season I won’t be interested in what team recruits the top quarterbacks, running backs, receivers or even the defensive players. Instead, I’m going to find the top rated kickers in the nation and whoever signs him is my pick to win the National Championship.
Seriously, have you noticed lately how horrible kicking is in the College Football game? I know kickers aren’t usually considered to be very important to winning a game, but lately they’ve sure had a big part in losing games. There’s a reason it’s called an EXTRA point. It’s supposed to be so easy that it’s a foregone conclusion that you’re going to make it. But it’s not a foregone conclusion anymore. Let’s take a look around the nation and see how those kickers are doing.
Clemson Tigers versus Boston College Eagles
Back in week two the Clemson Tigers took on the Boston College Eagles in the first ACC conference game of the season. It was back and forth throughout the game when the Boston College Eagles had a chance to take a lead in the fourth quarter. Ryan Ohliger missed a 36 yard field goal that would’ve been the difference in the game. Fortunately for Boston College, Clemson Tigers kicker Jad Dean had also missed a field goal that would’ve been the difference in the game. Instead they go into overtime. After Ohliger and Dean trade successful field goals in the first overtime the Clemson Tigers scored the first touchdown of overtime in the second overtime period. Then Jad Dean slipped up again. After a failed extra point by Jad Dean and the Boston College Eagles the Clemson Tigers scored the winning touchdown and then Ryan Ohliger made the extra point to win the game 34 – 33.
Oregon Ducks versus Oklahoma Sooners
The game between the Oregon Ducks and Oklahoma Sooners got a lot of attention in the past couple of days. The Oklahoma Sooners had a 33 – 20 lead with 3:10 left in the game. The Oregon Ducks had the ball and started to drive down the field, culminating in a 16 yard run by Dennis Dixon for an Oregon Ducks touchdown. The Oregon Ducks then decided to kick an onside kick which was recovered by Oregon. This led to a lot of controversy because on the replay it was clear that the correct call would’ve been for the Oklahoma Sooners to get the ball, but the referees allowed the Oregon Ducks the ball. Needless to say the Oregon Ducks drove down the field for another touchdown to put them up 34 – 33. However, I feel don’t feel bad for the Oklahoma Sooners because the game didn’t end there. The Oklahoma Sooners got the ball back, returned the kick for 56 yards which set up a field goal for Garrett Hartley that would’ve won the game. Since this article is about bad kickers, I bet you can guess what happened next. He missed it, Oklahoma Sooners lose.
Alabama Crimson Tide versus Arkansas Razorbacks
This might have been the hardest one to watch. Alabama and Arkansas were having a back and forth game like they usually do when Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin missed a field goal in the first half. Unfortunately for Alabama and Tiffin, it was only the beginning. Late in the game the score was tied 17 – 17 and Leigh Tiffin had a chance to win the game for the Crimson Tide, he missed it wide right for the second straight time. The game went into over time and once again the Alabama Crimson Tide had a chance to win the game, if they could only make a field goal. Leigh Tiffin kicked it wide right. The game then went into a second overtime. The Alabama Crimson Tide weren’t about to let it be decided by a field goal again. This time they scored a touchdown, now all they needed was an extra point and they’d have a seven poin…nevermind. Leigh Tiffin kicked the extra point wide right. Arkansas scored a touchdown to make it 23 – 23, then the extra point from Jeremy Davis gave Arkansas the win.
Boston College versus NC State Wolfpack
Whoever coined the phrase “what goes around comes around” was right. The Boston College Eagles won earlier in the season against the Clemson Tigers because the Clemson Tigers kicker couldn’t make an extra point. Now it was Boston College’s turn. In their game against the NC State Wolfpack, Boston College kicker Ryan Ohliger missed a extra point after a first quarter Eagles touchdown. Later in the game the Boston College Eagles scored a touchdown to go up 15 – 10 on the NC State Wolfpack. If Ohliger had made the first extra point then it would be 16 – 10 and Boston College would go for another extra point to make it a seven point lead. But since he missed it, Boston College went for the two point conversion and failed. The score was still 15 – 10 when the NC State Wolfpack drove down the field and scored a touchdown to make the final score 17 – 15. The Boston College Eagles lost because of Ryan Ohliger’s missed extra point, just like the Clemson Tigers did earlier that season against them.
Even my Florida Gators have had their share of kicking problems. The Florida Gators look surprisingly good this year. Everybody figured the offense was going to be great as usual but the defense has surprised people. They would have a great all around team…if it wasn’t for the kicking. In the Tennessee game Florida missed two field goals in the first half. The next week against the Kentucky Wildcats the Florida Gators missed two extra points. Fortunately the Gators pulled out victories in both games but the kicking remains a question mark should the Florida Gators find themselves in a close game.
It boggles my mind why these teams don’t have very good kickers. The Florida Gators have a great offense every year. They have their choice of any quarterback or running back that they want, but they can’t recruit a decent kicker? The Oklahoma Sooners and the Alabama Crimson Tide should be able to recruit a kicker on the name of the team alone. So why can’t they find anyone who can kick? Do big programs just give the kicking job to anybody who shows up because it’s not important? Or do kickers purposely pick teams that don’t score a lot of touchdowns because they’d rather be the guy who kicks a lot of field goals, rather than be just the guy who adds on the extra point all the time? I’d really like to know what the reason is; it seems crazy that a team like Alabama or Florida can’t recruit a kicker. Please Urban Meyer, you got your quarterback, just go and recruit the top kicker in the nation next year.
In 1991 there was a movie starring Scott Bakula called Necessary Roughness. In the movie the Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos had to start from scratch and make a new team after the old team was disbanded due to NCAA sanctions. The coaches must band together a bunch of scrubs to form a winning team. When they are in a desperate need for a kicker the Coach surprises everyone by recruiting Lucy Draper, a girl from the soccer team. Lucy Draper had never played football before, but she played soccer, she could kick the ball a mile. At the time that I saw the movie it seemed a little farfetched but it doesn’t seem like a bad idea now.