This was a casual joke I made last night in the fourth quarter of Georgia State-Abilene Christian:
College football teams should be granted 30 punts per year and ration them accordingly.— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) August 28, 2014
But the longer I've considered it, the more appealing this concept becomes. Coaches embrace punting because it's one of the few known entities in football; out of nearly 8000 punts in FBS play last year, only 77 were blocked. Even if going for it on fourth and short may have a pretty good success rate, it definitely isn't 99.9 percent.
So if huffing and puffing won't get the coaches to change what they do, we find another route - we make punts a valuable, scarce resource. This is how we make it happen:
1. At the beginning of the season, each program is allotted a fixed number of punts. I went with 30 just off the top of my head, but the median number of punts last year was right around 64. Let's halve that and give each team 32 punts.
2. After that, the coaches are free to use their punts as they wish. Use them all up before November. Save them all for your road games.
3. Despite some interesting suggestions, there are no ways to gain more punts on the field. Blocking an opponent's punt doesn't give you anything extra other than the sweet satisfaction of ruining something valuable. But!
4. Punts can be bought and sold on the open market. We encourage this, in fact, especially if some brave Air Raid soul is willing to sell all his team's punts before Week 1 even starts. It's the "land on enemy territory and immediately burn your boats" approach.
5. If - and this will happen - a team that's used up its punt supply forgets or tries to cheat and punts anyways? Automatic turnover, and hopefully the coach will be summarily fired. We're relying on the fans to create that pressure, and we're confident they'll come through.
6. Lastly, punts don't roll over. Use them, lose them, or sell them.
7. Bowl season's going to be even more amazing when neither Belk Bowl participant is allowed to punt.