Sunday, January 6, 2008

Big Ten overrun with spread offenses

On a similar note, after the basketball game yesterday over lunch at Brats, Andy told me about a conversation between the couple sitting next to him. The woman, a candidate for Wife of the Year, raised the point that with Rich Rodriguez going to Michigan, who in the Big Ten was left not running spread offenses?

Good question. My unofficial scorecard looks like this:

Weenie Ball

Man's Offense
Michigan State
Penn State
Ohio State

So Michigan hiring Rodriguez is officially a tipping point - the league of pro-style offenses and three yards and a cloud of dust now has more in common with the WAC than it does with the NFL. Ugh.

Despite all my criticism of the spread, you can't deny that it was first a good tool for helping less-talented teams compete with more-talented teams. Now, with teams like Florida and West Virginia running it so well, and Texas to an extent with Vince Young, it has permeated the elite levels of college football. It would be interesting to see, if Paul Chryst left for Purdue, if Bret Bielema would be tempted to hire a spread-based coordinator, given how much trouble we've had stopping it over the years. God I hope not.

My real hope is that Rodriguez's hiring at Michigan becomes the point at which the spread jumps the shark like past schemes du jour in college football - the run and shoot, the Wishbone, the 3-4. Usually it takes defenses at least five years to catch up with trends like this; when the majority of your opponents are running an offense, that almost becomes the default scheme for which you prepare and recruit, not the novelty that you only address in game weeks against those teams.

For instance: if seven of Bucky's 12 opponents next year are running the spread, is run-stuffing Elijah Hodge still considered the starting middle linebacker, or is the more mobile Jae McFadden?

I hope this is the beginning of the end for the spread. Let's get back to playing football, not Harlem Globetrotters basketball on grass.

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