Rich Rodriguez was recently asked how he managed to come up with the spread offense. He explained:
It was more born out of necessity and trying to be different. The staff and I had studied some run-and-shoot teams—Detroit and Houston were running it in the NFL. But we wanted to have our own version of it in the run game. The zone read, one of the staples of the spread nowadays, came about almost as an accident, a byproduct of practice.Back then, nobody was running shotgun run plays other than maybe a quarterback draw. To run the zone out of the shotgun was simply just a handoff. I had a quarterback in practice where the exchange didn't happen right, and the quarterback ended up keeping it around the end. I started to get on him, and he said, "I was reading the end." I said, "Well, that one is going in next week." I realized, hey, by putting the quarterback in the shotgun, he has time and distance to read that end. It's almost like a reverse option.