Just seven years ago, the thought of the spread offense succeeding in the SEC was unthinkable.
"The players in the SEC are too big and too fast."
Urban Meyer shattered that myth with national championships in 2006 and 2008, and Auburn further eradicated it by hoisting the crystal football in 2010. Now, the real fun begins.
Will the air-raid offense work in the SEC?
Former Texas Tech head coach (and current Washington State head coach) Mike Leach established himself as an offensive guru during his time in Lubbock, so much so that he was mentioned for every SEC head coach opening for the last two seasons. While he's not Mike Leach, we will soon find out if Leach's system works in the nation's toughest conference thanks to Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.
Kingsbury told the Bryan/College Station Eagle that he believes in his system, and is excited to see how it works in the SEC.
"I believe in this offense," he said. "I've played in it, I've seen it work for lots of years, been around it in two systems where its really flourished. I believe in the players we have here. It's not being cocky, but if you don't believe in it, why even do it?"
Good luck with that.
Not to be overly cynical, but we've heard this before. Tony Franklin said it while at Auburn, and he was fired before the leaves changed colors. Dave Clawson said it too, and his "clawfense" failed miserably in his only season on Rocky Top in 2008.
Kingsbury insists that he will put the ball in the hands of playmakers.
"We try to spread the ball around and get touches to our playmakers," he said. "If we have to hand the ball off 60 times, we'll do that. If we need to throw it 60 times, we'll do that. The whole goal is to take what the defense gives you and be successful at it."
Again, pardon my cynicism, but the two above blocked quotes contradict each other. The fact is, Kingsbury's offense is pass-first, pass-second and pass-third. In three of his four seasons on the Houston staff, the Cougars finished in the lower half of FBS in rushing offense, and the only time they didn't was in Kingsbury's first season in 2008 when he was a quality control coach. They chimed in at No. 47 that season.
For the spread to work in the SEC, it needs to be a run-first spread. Florida finished No. 38 in rushing offense in 2006, and then followed it up with the nation's No. 11 rushing offense in 2008. In 2010, behind Cam Newton and Michael Dyer, Auburn hoisted the crystal football thanks to the nation's sixth-ranked rushing offense.
You have to run the football in the SEC - no matter what your system is. Kingsbury better realize this before toe meets leather this fall, otherwise it'll be a long season in College Station.