The word has become synonymous with college football. Spread offense, spread option, pass oriented spread, run oriented spread, spread quarterback, and on and on. If some TV anylist can somehow label it spread then that's what it is.
They have went as far as calling Paul Johnson's flexbone the spread. Enough said.
At this point if you're already labeling me a spread hater, then your right. I am!
There is nothing more gruelingly hard to watch than the "look at the defense then let's all look to the sideline spread", or watch two pass heavy spreads slug it out in a downpour. So if spread, sliced bread, and greatest are words that frequent the same sentence for you. This may not be your cup of tea.
For those of us "spread a little too thin" here's hope!
Simply put, the NFL doesn't understand the spread, doesn't care to understand it, and probably won't try. As long as teams can still find the likes of Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, and Matthew Stafford there's no reason to try and figure it out.
The NFL, like hollywood, will continue to go with the sure thing. Why? Because it makes a lot of people, a lot of money.
So what happens when a big time prospect with professional aspirations picks a school?
He does what Matt Barkley did and goes to a program like USC.
Also, it's starting to trend towards running backs as well. Take Florida's recruitment of Trent Richardson. They were unable to convince him he could be a featured back in their offense.
Result? He signs with run oriented Alabama.
Still not seeing a correlation? How about when "The greatest to ever play the game of college football" is projected anywhere for form the first to the third round in the upcoming draft?
The NFL wants players that they can evaluate by their standards. Teams want film that shows how a player fits into their schemes.
Like it or not, college players want to go pro, and they'll go where they have the best chance to do that.
2. We've cracked the code!
In the early 90's when the spread unleashed the beast on the college football world. It wasn't pretty.
The once highly touted 4-3 schemes with monster linebackers and safeties geared to stop the run, were absolutely shredded trying to catch up with what seemed to be hundreds of blazing fast recievers running wide open everywhere!
Offensive coordinators fell all over themselves to rush and implement their own versions.
Run heavy coaches jumped on the bandwagon too, seeing that spreading the big guys out could provide huge running lanes.
Savvy defensive coordinators saw the arms race and launched the counter offensive.
Gone were the prototypical big linebackers and safeties in favor of hybrid safety/linebackers, small quick defensive lineman, and more flexible defensive sets.
3-4, 3-5-3, and even straight nickel and dime packages have become the norm. Players with the speed and the ability to play in space, went from "wanted" to "got to have".
Gradually, the defenses have caught up to the spread and scheme wise they're really close. The game has mostly divulged into whether your athletes are better in space than the other teams and vice versa.
This all leads directly into my next point.
3. The resurgence of "Big man on big man"
With the big time backs and qbs heading to schools that give them the best shot at the NFL, and the defenses getting smaller and smaller, the game will undoubtedly trend back to a smashmouth mentality.
Just like when the spread went against the college football grain, and took the world by storm, the progressive offensive gurus will begin to see the possibilities of big sets against really small defenses. You get the picture.
I like to call it the USC blueprint.
Pete Carroll inherited an abysmal Southern Cal team in the pass prolific PAC-10(say that three times fast!). What does he do? He implements an offense more suited for the Big Ten, and knocked the conference into a stupor it still hasn't recovered from!
Last year Alabama shocked the country with a punishing ground attack that clearly caught some smaller defenses by surprise.
LSU is clearly their best when they turn and give it to Scott. Just ask Georgia.
Michigan States two backs finally wore down spread crazy Michigan.
Watch Boise State play. That's not spread, that's I formation football baby!
Slowly the game is changing back to what it's suppose to be. A brutal, hard hitting test of young men's courage and heart. Those of us sick of the spread pandemic can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are getting better!
Until the next quarter machine offense takes over.