I'm tired of hearing about the South Beach college football party, USC violations, and whether or not the Pouncey kid took money, but I absolutely love college sports, so here are my thoughts on college football. Because of my unwavering devotion to my Mizzou Tigers, I realize it's tough for me to be objective about the games and teams themselves, so here is a more big picture look at the game we love to watch every Saturday in the fall.
We might disagree about the percentages, but I don't think any reasonably intelligent person thinks all college football programs are squeaky clean. Regardless of that thought, saying everyone is doing it doesn't work for 5 year olds, so why do try to use that excuse for a multimillion dollar industry? Also, I'm tired of the players being called "kids." Certainly 18-22 year old guys are not the most mature people on the planet, but isn't that who we send to war? So let me get this straight, we can give these MEN guns and train them to kill people in other countries, but if they stay here and play sports, they're BOYS? Children much younger than 18 can be tried as adults if they commit a heinous crime, but an 18 year old is too immature to know right from wrong and to not take things from people? Give me a break. At the same time, there is plenty of blame to go around, so it's not as thought the "adults" in the situation are blameless. Whether there is a lack of "institutional control," by the staff or the agents are "preying on" or "pimping" college players, the recent maelstrom of allegations and investigations has gotten just plain silly. Because of the ridiculousness of what is going on off the field, let's shift gears to take a look at what's going on on the field...mainly the spread offense.
College football is great, and I understand I'm probably in the minority here, but I prefer it to the NFL. One of the main reasons I love the college game so much is the spread offense. Many teams run some type of this offense which puts a premium on speed and athleticism. Generally speaking, the "haves" of the college football world are going to have more speed on the offensive side of the ball than the "have nots" could even hope to have on either side of the ball. Spread out the defense and pick them apart. Again, I'm probably in the minority here, but I have no problem at all watching a blow out. Obviously when two "haves" play heads up, the spread offense won't necessarily win, but when that happens it's normally BCS time, so the games are fun to watch anyway. Despite my love for the beauty of the spread offense, she does have some worts. Perhaps not on her face, but they're there. The biggest? Does the spread offense prepare quarterbacks for the NFL?
Look at some of the most prolific scoring teams in the nation. Many of them run a spread offense where their offensive athleticism is going to trump the other teams' defensive scheme simply because of their lack of athleticism on that side of the ball. Most of these teams have no real problem getting players other than the QB to the NFL, but because of the scheme, every single year around draft time we hear about how it is going to be such a huge transition for the quarterbacks because they can't just sit in the shotgun and make presnap reads. By all accounts playing quarterback in the NFL is one of the toughest things to do in all of sports regardless of what type of scheme or college program you come from, but I have never taken a snap at any level higher than scout team quarterback in high school (for the record I was a savage at practice though) , so I won't argue the merits of that argument. However, if it comes up every year are these college coaches doing their players a disservice by almost exclusively running the spread?
When I was a Senior at Mizzou, our quarterback was Brad Smith. He now plays wide receiver for the New York Jets, but he had legitimate Heisman hype after passing for over 2000 and rushing for over 1000 yards as a red shirt freshman. As his career continued at Mizzou rival Big XII coaches had more headaches game planning for him than Texas's Vince Young or A&M's Reggie McNeal, but then something strange happened. The offense changed. Many people thought Coach Gary Pinkel got too concerned with trying to develop Smith into a protypical NFL qb than winning football games and both the team and Smith suffered (see ESPN.com for more). Imagine that, a coach at a school in a BCS conference trying to prepare his players for the next level possibly even at the cost of winning games. Whether or not that was the absolute truth or not, is not the point. That mere perception of that happening begs the question, "Who are the coaches most accountable to?" Their players and schools? Boosters? Maybe even themselves? If they're accountable to their players, there's no way Brian Kelly bolts from Cincy right before the Sugar Bowl. At the same time, he has to live with himself. Would any of us pass up our dream job? Honestly, would it have mattered? I saw the Sugar Bowl live from New Orleans, and I don't know that there is a coach on the planet that could have been that Florida team with that Cincinatti team.
That Florida team is actually a great example of everything working out for everyone involved though right? Meyer kept his spread (which will be altered anyway this year because Brantley is more of a dropback passer than Tebow) and his quarterback got drafted in the 1st round. We'll see in a few years if his time at Florida really prepared him for the NFL. One thing is for sure right now though, I can't wait for the season to actually start.
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