9 Old School Offenses We Want to See Make a Comeback
College football is gradually progressing to the point where rushing the ball is a thing of the past.
Purists may cry out at this change, and teams like Stanford, Wisconsin and Alabama have proven that the old methods are tried and true, but for every program that runs a power offense, there is an Oregon or Texas A&M waiting in the wings.
The nine offenses on this list are the ones that are, for the most part, obsolete, but which we would love to see make a comeback at the collegiate level.
This desire to see these offenses return is due to their emphasis on the power run game and sheer domination of an opponent.
While some are used occasionally, usually as a gimmick, for the most part, these offenses have faded into the annals of college football history, never to make a big time return, unless Barry Alvarez gets to run the college football universe for an extended period of time.
9. Pro Set
This set isn't completely gone, and variations are scattered across the college football landscape.
But in it's original form, the Pro set has pretty much faded from general use.
Lavell Edwards coached BYU to several extremely good seasons, including a national title using this set as its primary offense.
The two running backs are split to either side of the quarterback, who is under center.
The handoff can go to either back, the speed option can be run, or a pass thrown to a wide receiver or tight end, depending on the formation.
This formation is still in use by some programs, but is not as prevalent as it once was.
As a side note, the toss sweep out of this formation is especially effective in all Madden games circa 1998-2002.
8. Power I
There is a very slight, yet significant variation between this form of the Power I formation and the Maryland Power I.
In the basic formation, three backs get set in the backfield, one to the right of the first back directly behind the quarterback.
This formation, which can be achieved out of motion as with Michigan in the picture above, is primarily used for running the ball, but can lead to some great short passing plays and even fly patterns if the defense gets sucked into the run.
In the original formation, two tight ends join the three backs as eligible receivers, and the ball is pounded at the heart of the opposing defense.
While you might see this formation occasionally on the goal line or in other short-yardage formations, it's really gone by the wayside in general usage for big-time football programs.
It's power football at it's best, and establishes a mentality of physical, overpowering offense.
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The Flexbone is the perfect option for an offense that is not as physically gifted as its opponent.
Case in point, Air Force pushed Michigan to the edge in the Big House in 2012 utilizing some Flexbone sets.
The fullback lines up behind the quarterback, and two wide receivers line up wide of the formation.
The remaining two eligible players are running backs, who line up one on either side of the quarterback, just outside the tackles.
This formation lends itself to the triple option and all kinds of variations, and teams such as the Falcons, Navy and Georgia Tech use it as their primary offensive set, to varying levels of success.
It's pretty obvious that our football forebears liked to keep things simple.
Hence all kinds of formations named after their shape.
This one looks like a wing to the right, with the quarterback in the back ready to accept the snap.
The offense looks funky, with the center aligned closer to the weak side of the offense, and the quarterback further in the backfield than his running backs.
It presents a variety of options, and was the primary offense of teams all over the country for the first half century of football.
With the advent of the T formation and perfection by George Halas and the Chicago Bears, this offense faded into obscurity.
Now imagine a team such as Oregon coming out and lining up in this formation against USC or Stanford...hilarity ensues.
5. Emory and Henry
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Leave it to Steve Spurrier to resurrect an offense that has long gone out of general usage.
Surprisingly enough, Emory and Henry College was the first squad to use the offense, and it was primarily in use back in the 1950's.
Instead of placing all five ineligible players directly in the center of the formation, this departure from the normal type of set sends a lineman out wide.
There are a few reasons for this, he becomes a blocker, eligible for a lateral and helps set up an overload against the defense that, in this day and age, would be woefully unprepared for it.
It's weird, and if you aren't a student of football history, you may have thought it was just another one of Steve Spurrier's gimmicks.
If a head coach had the bravery to bring this one back from the archives, there is a very real chance that it would produce some big plays...at least the first time the team runs it.
4. The Wishbone
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This offense is almost never seen at the collegiate level in this day of pass-heavy offenses.
In the wishbone formation, which was developed by former Texas offensive coordinator Emory Ballard, features three running backs in the backfield with the quarterback: a fullback directly behind him and two halfbacks split to one to each side.
The original formation featured two tight ends, but the formation can be adjusted to feature two wide receivers, or one wide receiver and a tight end.
Some of Barry Switzer's stellar offenses at Oklahoma ran a ton of this formation, which looks like something that Wisconsin or Stanford would run.
For fans of smash-mouth football played with some swag, for an offense to revert to the wishbone would be a great way to get the fans hyped up for some physical play.
The formation hasn't disappeared completely, as Texas paid tribute Darrell Royal by lining up in the wishbone formation and running its first offensive play of the game in the offensive formation that Royal helped perfect.
3. T Formation
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The name gives it away, but this formation makes the offense look much like a "T."
The quarterback lines up under center, one of the first formations to do so, and the option can be run to either side of the offense from this formation.
Back in the 1940's and '50's, Minnesota had the most success with this offense, winning five national titles using primarily this set.
Their are all kinds of variations, with an unbalanced line, two tight ends or one tight end and one wide receiver.
For those of us that love the traditional option, a return to this offense would be a dream come true.
2. Notre Dame Box
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This formation is thus named due to the development and execution of the offense by Knute Rockne's Fighting Irish.
Rockne's "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" ran the formation to perfection, earning their place in college football lore through domination of the college football universe with this formation.
The formation is a variation of the single-wing formation, and focuses primarily on the shiftiness of the offense, highlighted by several different shifts and options, rather than a power running game as is emphasized in the true single wing.
The quarterback, who was primarily a blocking back in the single wing, has the ability to receive the direct snap in this formation, and the "wing-back" lines up tighter to the line of scrimmage that in the single wing, which allows for a quicker pitch.
During it's heyday, this was the height of college football genius, and helped Rockne earn his place as one of the legends of college football.
1. Maryland Power I
Quarterback under center, two tight ends and three running backs lined up one after the other in the backfield.
If Jim Harbaugh was coaching, one might expect a deep pass, but generally, such an archaic formation signifies that a run is coming, and coming at the defense hard.
Former Maryland head coach Tom Nugent is generally credited with inventing this variation of the "I", which is rarely used these days.
The picture of Michigan State utilizing the offense in it own end zone may give some insight into one of the reasons why the Big Ten is seemingly so far behind the SEC.