Continuing with our noble mission to debunk widely-held collegiate-falsehoods, it's time to attack the catchphrase most overused by analysts, preview magazines and fans everywhere:
If you follow college football, you know just how prevalent the spread has become. If you're not familiar with the spread, you should probably get a different hobby.
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In its simplest terms, a spread offense is any offensive scheme that features at most one running back and four or five wide receivers and is predicated on the quarterback being a threat to pass or carry the ball himself. There are dozens of variations, many of which have their own cute little nicknames, but ultimately, the spread is any formation that tries to "spread" the field (we know, you would have never guessed it from the name). Contrast this with non-spread offenses, which apparently try to constrict players into one tight, easily tackled bunch.
Some people believe the spread's popularity stems from the fact that the name reminds corpulent sportswriters of food. But the cold hard reality is this: The spread offense isn't some newfangled form of play-calling wizardry -- it's simple, basic football, and it's been around for quite a while.
There's not much new or avant-garde about it. There are only so many ways you can legally line up 11 guys on the line of scrimmage. From the beginning of the sport's existence, the idea on offense was to get your most talented players the ball, create the biggest mismatches and the greatest amount of open space with which to work. The spread is just the latest slight variation on all the great offensive schemes throughout history, from the Run 'n Shoot to the Fun 'n Gun to the Ben 'n Jerry's.
Is it really revolutionary to want your QB to have some mobility? To be a good athlete? What will they think of next? Perhaps that those same mobile QBs should have good arms, too? Pure witchcraft. And the purpose of the spread is to spread the field? No. Way.
Spread proponents say the offense has produced a new generation of quarterbacks who are true hybrids, who are just as dangerous carrying the ball as they are throwing it.
Football is the biggest copycat sport there is, and teams are jumping on the spread-wagon because they see a bunch of national champs (Texas, Florida, LSU) lifting Waterford footballs thanks in part to QBs who could take off and run. But college teams also like to rip off the pros, and so far
The spread is just the latest wrinkle in a constantly evolving-but-basic offensive philosophy: Put your playmakers in the position to make plays. There is nothing new under the sun and that includes the college football world's flavor of the half-decade. The forward pass revolutionized football. The spread offense just made it a little more fun to watch on the weekend.
That's all for this week. Remember: Just because college football fans thinks it's true, doesn't mean it is.