Those early defectors to the NFL—Barry Sanders, Steve Walsh and Timm Rosenbach—won't be missed nearly as much this season as a two-inch-high piece of equipment. A new rule bans the use of the kicking tee, which has been used in college football since 1948 to help place-kickers get elevation and distance on field goal and extra point tries.
Coaches' assessments of the ban range from optimism to outright dread. "Even the automatic extra point is going to become an adventure," says Florida State's Bobby Bowden. Georgia's Ray Goff adds. "You'll see more field goals blocked this year." In fact, during the spring, coaches spent a good deal of time on kick-blocking drills.
The new rule could also alter game strategy. A coach faced with fourth-and-one on his opponent's 35 might be more inclined to go for a first down or "pooch" a punt into the corner, rather than risk the three-pointer.
One of the nation "s top returning kickers is LSU senior David Browndyke, who succeeded on 82.6% of his field goal attempts last season (19 for 23) and has never missed an extra point try (80 for 80). Browndyke's most important field goal in '88 was a 34-yarder with 28 seconds remaining, which gave LSU a 19-18 win over Alabama. This fall's game with the Tide will be played in LSU's Tiger Stadium, which has natural grass: most coaches believe that without a tee, it will be tougher to kick off the real stuff than the more uniform artificial surfaces. So given the same situation as in '88, would LSU coach Mike Archer call on Browndyke or let quarterback Tom Hodson go for a first down or a touchdown?