When Steve Spurrier called into question Alabama’s use of white tape to mark the spot of its place kicks last week in a 20-6 win against South Carolina, the Gamecocks’ coach said he had never seen the practice before.
But Alabama coach Nick Saban said more than half of the SEC teams mark their kicks, including the Gamecocks last season.
“We’ve done some research on it, and over half the teams in the league do something, whether they put grass there or a piece of mud or whatever it is, so the kicker knows where the ball’s going to be spotted,” Saban said Wednesday during the league’s weekly teleconference. “We even saw verification where last year South Carolina’s kicker did it.”
The NCAA rulebook states that “any device or material used to mark the spot of a scrimmage place kick or elevate the ball makes the kick illegal.”
Kansas City Chiefs rookie Ryan Succop, USC’s kicker from 2006-08, said he never used tape to mark a spot.
“My holder would just always pick a spot,” Succop said. “But we didn’t use tape or anything.”
USC holder Stephen Flint said he would just find a mark in the grass, such as a small divot, to give Succop an aiming point.
“Nothing like a piece of tape,” Flint said.
Spurrier said the SEC office told him that what Alabama did was against the rules.
“Well, if you can put a piece of grass there, I don’t know, it may be legal or not,” Spurrier said. “All I know is a piece of white tape’s not legal and that’s what the (SEC) said. I don’t know about the other stuff. …
“If we did that last year, why didn’t they turn us in if it was illegal? Shoot, I’m available to be turned in for anything if it’s illegal.”
Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin was 2-for-2 on extra points and 2-for-3 on field goals against the Gamecocks. Tiffin, who leads all SEC kickers with 72 points, is 16-of-19 on field goals and 24-of-26 on extra points.
Spurrier said he noticed the white tape while watching the game video.
“It looked funny when watching the tape. I said, ‘Look at that little white spot on the ground.’ Then after the guy kicked, that little white spot moved. And all of a sudden, the holder picked it up and put it back in his pants somehow. Then the next time the same thing happens,” Spurrier said.
“Maybe they thought it wasn’t impermissible or maybe the holder and the kicker did it on his own.”
Saban said he did not realize Tiffin and holder P.J. Fitzgerald were spotting the kicks. And though he said the practice is “not unusual” for teams to do, Saban said the Crimson Tide would stop using the mark.
“It is something that shouldn’t be done because it’s against the rules,” Saban said. “We’re actually happy that it was brought to our attention because I wasn’t aware of it, and it’s something that we will not do because it’s certainly not worth a 5-yard penalty (for an illegal kick).”