As defenses home in on spread, offenses still one step ahead
At the start of the decade, you could have counted on one hand the number of programs around the country running the spread offense. Nine years later, the craze has
Through history, offensive trends have largely been cyclical, with a new craze eventually supplanting the last. Usually, though, change occurs because defenses catch up. So far, that hasn't come close to happening with the spread, as all those video-game performances in the Big 12 last year showed.
But when, for the second time in three weeks, I took to
That could absolutely happen. Across the sport, we haven't seen a whole lot of massive schematic movements by defensive coordinators to counter the spread. The same basic philosophy applies whether you're facing Florida, Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Oregon: You have to get to the quarterback. Give
It would stand to reason that as defensive personnel grow increasingly more nimble, they'll become susceptible to more traditional offenses that can run it up the gut. However, as of now, there are only a handful of programs fit to run that type of offense. There's a reason teams like USC, LSU, Georgia and Ohio State continue to be successful with traditional offenses: They have the best players. To run a productive, I-formation offense, a team needs big, bulky linemen, a true tight end, a couple of power runners and, preferably, a 6-foot-5 drop-back quarterback -- all of which are becoming increasingly scarce at the high-school level.
That's why the move toward the spread has been far more beneficial for mid-level teams looking to gain an "edge" against opponents with similar or greater talent. With the spread, a team just needs a few 5-8 burners who can get free in space and a QB who can get the ball to them. But now, we've reached the point where a team like Missouri -- which achieved great success with the spread the past few years -- plays nearly all its games against fellow spread teams. What, then, can a mid-level team do now to gain back that "edge?" Why not go back to a power offense?
It only takes one to break the cycle. We saw that last year when
Keep an eye on
Yowzers. Osborne's exclusion -- in particular the "bland" remark -- drew far more angry e-mails than that of any other coach, though Matt was the only Husker fan to view Dr. Tom's snub as a referendum on humanity. However, as I stated right at the top, it was not an attempt to rank the "best" or "greatest" on-field coaches. The topic was coaching "legends," and the coaches who achieve that rare, iconic status are usually the ones who bring a little bit more to the table. Like it or not, oftentimes it's the "villains" who capture our imagination.
Interestingly, it seems some Nebraska fans viewed Osborne's exclusion as doubly insulting, not only because they believe he belongs on any top five list, but also because of Hayes' presence there instead. No fan base in the country places more emphasis on character and integrity, so for Nebraskans, it's unfathomable some could view Osborne's personality as a negative. (In Hayes' defense, he was a pretty upstanding citizen himself, constantly hounding his players about academics and their postgraduate ambitions and donating his time to myriad charitable causes.) However, as other readers pointed out, one could argue Osborne was not even the most iconic Big 8 coach of his era. That would be the even-more villainous
Beyond that, there was actually far less griping about the list than I expected. Mostly, fans just wanted recognition -- even if just a "mention" -- of their schools' own respective legends, namely (in no particular order)
Today's coaches will have a hard time achieving "legendary" status because few stay at the same place for as extended a period as coaches of the past. Meyer may "not be going to Notre Dame, ever," but I still can't envision him being the head coach at Florida for 20 years. And while he may not admit it, Carroll's ego will eventually lead him back to the NFL. I'd put better odds on Tressel and
That's a great question, Michael -- especially since Cincinnati sure as heck isn't one of them.
First of all, the Big East is so small, and so tightly bunched, the difference between being picked second and fifth isn't as significant as in other conferences. For instance, last season Cincinnati won the league at 6-1, while the next three teams (Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Rutgers) all finished 5-2. So it's not inconceivable the Mountaineers could finish fifth and still be right in the mix for the title until the end.
That said, most reasonable observers would expect West Virginia to take a step back this fall. There's simply no replacing a leader as uniquely talented as White. The good news is his replacement,
It's going to be a big year for nice-guy coach
That's quite a punishment, though I would argue it'd be worse for the pro-Crush contingent. Can you imagine being deprived of seeing the color radiate from this young lady's eyes?
Well just how many friends do you have, Blake? Are we talking five or 500?
It's not unusual for a fired coach to be stuck in limbo for a year, especially if he's set on remaining a head coach. Remember, Pete Carroll was out of coaching for a year before USC took a chance on him.
For one thing, there was a clear decline over his tenure at Tennessee. From 1992-2001, the Vols were flat-out dominant, going 95-20 (.826), but over his last seven seasons, Fulmer's record dropped to 57-32 (.640), including two losing seasons. And, getting back to the coaching-legend discussion, Fulmer isn't exactly the most charismatic guy in the biz. He's not the kind of showman who is going to come in and create buzz and excitement at a previously stagnant program.
My guess is he'll most likely wind up as an NFL assistant or college coordinator. If he's dead-set on being a college head coach again, he may have to go the
So much of the Miami mentality is built around "us versus them" that I'm not sure most 'Canes fans even
That said, the reason few mention the "U" as an elite program right now is it spent the past three seasons playing in the Humanitarian and Emerald bowls and going 5-7. And the two main things keeping it from returning to the top are the same lingering deficiencies of the past five years: the lack of a reliable quarterback and elite playmakers. Miami has recruited very well the past couple of years, and perhaps those players will finally emerge this season. (QB
Then there's the question of whether
Hopefully Shannon gets things turned around, but if he does happen to go 7-6 again ... a certain ex-Miami assistant/10-year Auburn head coach is available for hire.
Believe me, I'd love any excuse to keep talking Lost -- like directing you to this
That's really what this all boils down to, people. I've yet to come across any celebrity this year who truly makes my heart go aflutter. I'm not necessarily saying we have to wait until next year, but let's not rush it. Much like a coach trying to pick a starting quarterback, when the right one comes along -- we'll know.