Adam Bailey likes field goals. He’d like them even more if they were worth four or five points, but that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
Unlike the postal rate, field goals have stayed consistently at three points throughout the storied history of NCAA football.
In a non-move that shocked no one in particular, members of college football’s governing body have not discussed, contemplated or held fleeting conversations in an elevator about raising the point value of field goals for next season.
Projections show kickers will likely only earn three points for their efforts again next year — and perhaps the year after that as well.
“I think it brings some consistency to the game. We can always count on field goals being worth three points,” said Bailey, the Gophers placekicker last year.
As Bailey said, the statistical flatline has given coaches and kickers a certain measure of congruity from year to year. At the same time, he said he can’t help but ponder “what if” things were different.
With some urging, Bailey began to let his imagination run wild in a magical kingdom where field goals are worth more than the going rate.
“I don’t know if (players) would take us more seriously, but it would be fun for us,” he said.
But that fun would have a price.
“It would put a little more pressure on knowing they were worth more points and had a bigger impact on the game,” Bailey added.
Still, there are times when that extra pressure could translate into hero status. He pictured entering a game down 27-24, only to have his four-point field goal give his team a 28-27 win.
If somehow a new rule could be grandfathered in, the Gophers’ 3-9 finish last year might suddenly look better — 4-8, with a win against a team ranked No. 1 in the country at the time.
Bailey kicked five field goals in a 16-15 loss to then top-ranked Penn State last year. Although the Gophers already had a good chance to win the game, four-point field goals would have given them a little more breathing room.
“We would have beat the No. 1 team in the country instead of losing by one,” Bailey said. “It would have completely turned the outcome around, which would have been a huge win for the program.”
That thought was so persistent in the team’s head that coach Glen Mason considered lobbying the NCAA to change the rules.
“We actually considered it and talked about it in team meetings. But we were still in the middle of the season at the time and had to concentrate on the upcoming games,” Bailey said. “I think it was something we were going to talk about more in the off-season.”
Bailey said the NCAA is too set in its ways to consider a shift in point value. And forget about these more drastic changes:
ù awarding three points for a field goal kicked with a tee and four points for one kicked without a tee.
ù making field goals worth a decimal figure, like 3.5.
ù bringing back the drop kick — which Bailey still practices from time to time — and eliminating the field goal.
Innovations like that will have to fall to organizations that aren’t afraid to take risks, like the Canadian Football League.
Meanwhile, the NCAA will continue the status quo. Pick any year — 1972, for instance — and one will find field goals were worth three points.
“It’s a little weird to think about how field goals haven’t changed throughout the course of the game,” Bailey said. “It’s sort of bizarre.”
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