Dear youth of America,

Gennaro Filice

My name is Gennaro Filice and I am an avid fan of college
football. I write to you with great concern for the future of every
sixth day of the week during the fall season. And I’d like to
give a message to all you youngins with pigskin passion and dreams
of Saturday afternoon heroics: Please concentrate on the
fútbol aspects of football.

We’ve reached a sad state in college football where the
oddly even six-point drive is common and teams have to scheme for
two possessions when facing a 10-3 deficit. The letter
‘P’ in the acronym ‘PAT’ now stands for
“possibility,” not “point.” That 20-yard
chip shot that used to be the icing on the proverbial touchdown
cake has quickly turned stale. And this discrepancy in one of
football’s most straightforward plays has had a broad effect
on the game we love.

Announcers hate having to retract their spur-of-the-moment
“tie ballgame” calls. Casual fans can’t handle
losing their bathroom/snack break that used to come when the point
was guaranteed. And my cohorts and I (the diehard fans) are tired
of having our hard-earned touchdown celebrations cut short by some
dude who can’t bench the bar.

Field goal kicking has been no better. Thirty-yard attempts have
been hooked and sliced worse than a U.S. player’s Titleist in
the Ryder Cup, 40-yard tries have become wishful thinking and
50-yard attempts are now laughable. The current college kicker
seems to struggle so much with the three-pointer — even from
short distances — that he may as well have sported the red,
white and blue on the hardcourt in Athens.

This trend is sickening.

Oregon State’s Alexis Serna, Northwestern’s Brian
Huffman, LSU’s Ryan Gaudet … More kickers have made
national headlines in the first three weeks of this fall than in
most entire seasons of the past — and it ain’t for
splitting the uprights.

What happened to the days when Florida State kicker Scott
Bentley graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, kickers like Kansas
State alum Martin Gramatica were “automatica” and Kathy
Ireland was a symbol for consistency in “Necessary
Roughness” — the days when college kickers were
glorified, not vilified.

What happened to Mr. Reliable — the steady-footed,
single-digited 120-pounder whose prepubescent face exuded
confidence and assurance through his low-riding, unnecessarily
thick single-bar facemask. The player whose foot was worth its
weight in gold?

Our game features many superstars in those sexy specialty
positions, but we greatly lack players who can boot the ball with
any accuracy.

For every consistent kicker like Ohio State’s Mike Nugent,
there’s at least five Scott Norwoods out there. And
“wide right” — which used to be Florida
State’s signature moment — has become a national
phenomenon.

Has football begun losing its best legs to the increasingly
popular sport of soccer? Should kickers ditch the soccer style kick
and return to the flat-toe shoe, straight on approach? Have college
kickers lost their legendary poise and ability to handle the most
pressure-packed situations? Did the NCAA thin down the distance
between uprights without letting us know?

Whatever the problem is, we, the dedicated followers of
America’s Saturday afternoon obsession, look to you, our
country’s aspiring athletes, for assistance. Lower our heart
rates, give us back our hair and stop the destruction of innocent
headsets belonging to head coaches around the country —
become a kicker.

High school quarterbacks, ditch the head cheerleader for a
kicking tee. Linebackers, trade in that intimidating facemask visor
for a right-footed soccer cleat (or no shoe if you desire the old
school bare-foot approach). O-linemen … well, you guys were
put there for your deficiency in coordination, so stay put.

There are too many kickers in college football who can’t
boot the ball further than Lou Piniella can boot his hat. There are
too many kickers who display less accuracy than a government
survey. And, sadly enough, there are way too many kickers who
can’t chip the ball twenty yards through an 18-foot, six-inch
space.

Please help college football fans, kiddies. Drop your ego and
pick up a kicking tee.

Sincerely,

Gennaro A. Filice IV

 

Gennaro Filice can be reached at
“mailto:gfilice@umich.edu”>gfilice@umich.edu

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