Another College Football season has come and gone and once again the Crimson Tide extend their legacy under Saban. Several stories came from the Championship game, Georgia going for their first title since the 80s, Saban going for his 6th career title, and the making of a legend that is Tua Tagovailoa. The one thing I want to focus on is the Alabama kicker, Andy Pappanastos. Yeah the guy who missed two field goals, one with no time left that could have won the game for the Tide before OT. The broadcasters hyped him up, telling the audience of TV listeners that he and his family had been longtime Alabama fans and prior to him joining to the team he had season tickets going to every game. Drilling the game winner would have been his career defining moment, the Tides hero of 2018. However he shanked the ball worse than a Charles Barkley golf swing. This isn’t the first time that people have seen kickers choke, especially at the college level.
People see the kicker as some skinny wimp who isn’t good enough to play anywhere else. Most of the time that’s a correct analysis but at the NFL level its a different story. NFL kickers are some of the best at what they do. Some of them have bigger and better feet than some professional soccer players. They are the only people on Earth who can skip arm day and not get roasted for it. They are some of the most clutch at what they do as well. (Excluding Blair Walsh of course.) At the college level however, it’s a different story. There are so many schools in college football that the kicker does not seem to become a necessity. Most kickers in college are just your average joe’s. Kids who couldn’t play a position and have a good leg or are too big to play soccer end up on the tail end of college rosters. Rarely do you see kickers drafted and if they are they are prodigies. Guys with wonder legs like current Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, are often drafted in the late rounds.
The kicker position is one of the most scrutinized in football because of the pressure it comes with. Over the years of watching college football you can see that college kickers don’t have the same mindset that NFL kickers do. The pressure gets to college kickers because they’re just like us, they can’t miss a game winning field goal and go, “Hey this sucks but at least I’m getting paid!” College players obviously don’t get paid so they only get the reward of the legacy they make in their years of kicking footballs. If you miss one pressure moment they’ll find someone else to do the same job and kick you to the side. (Pun Intended)
Now I’m not trying to defend Pappanastos for missing that field goal because I believe that it was just inexcusable. So many things had already gone wrong for Alabama, the last thing they needed was to miss that field goal. All im saying is when you watch this years NFL playoffs and some kicker lines up a 50 yard field goal to win the Super Bowl, remember the pressure that’s on their shoulders and remember how good these kickers are at what they do.
Photo: News of the Day, Kansas City Chiefs official, USA Today