Football

Offensive game

Texas flag. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Texas flag. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Football has changed forever.

The bowl season and the coaching changes have only made the Charlie Strong era more fascinating to me. Strong has everything you want in a coach. His belief systems (core values) and the order and structure with which he operates is admirable. His recruiting prowess is showing itself more and more to be special.

College football is evolving. The rules cater to the offense more than ever. It is no secret that points and offense excite fans and puts butts in the seats.

Records continue to fall on the offensive side of the ball at every level of the game. In particular to the college game, the Football Bowl Subdivision set NCAA records no less than two times over the last five years in points per game, total yards per game, yards per play, rushing yards, and yards per carry.

This is not the Run-and-Shoot offense and defenses need to adjust and get tape. The records, at some juncture, will settle but the scoring, the innovation that is allowed because of the rules of the game and the sport being offensively based, is not going to change.

Offense is taking over and if you are coaching with a cater to your defense, you’re going to lose to Urban Meyer, Gary Patterson, and whomever is coaching Oregon. Here’s something to think about when you rest on your pillow tonight – that list is only getting longer.

Nick Saban, just a couple of years ago, was trying to establish a criteria to put rules in place to control tempo and asked, “Is this what we want football to become?” By 2014, tempo is a regular staple of the Alabama offense. He understood the changes in offenses. While some Texas fans believe Texas, using the spread, would have exposed Alabama in 2009. It did happen later with Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, and finally with Auburn before he decided to buy into the old axiom – “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Saban hired Lane Kiffin to be his offensive coordinator and while he stayed with many of the pro concepts, he did install a number of spread concepts, quarterback runs, and a tempo pace to the offense.

Football has changed.

Offenses have taken over. Texas Tech has been relevant in the last decade only because of its offense. Oregon, along with Nike, had taken its offense and built a powerhouse in a state that has a laughable, and not in a good way, amount of FBS talent in the state high schools.

Baylor has been resurrected from a horrible place in college football history because of an innovative offense. I don’t believe they play a national championship caliber defense to match that offense but they’ve won two straight Big 12 conference championships and are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Innovative offense allowed teams that struggled to get the big guys up front to still compete with those that did. Brain has become as valuable as braun as teams with prototypical NFL size try and figure out what the hell to do with the ‘new’ offenses.

Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Houston, and Kansas have all hired new coaches and every single one of them is an offensive-minded innovator.

Bottom line is that Kirby Smart waited to long to take a job. The long time defensive coordinator under Saban at Alabama was seemingly waiting for Saban to move on from Alabama or for Mark Richt to leave Smarts alma mater, the University of Georgia. Smart will get a head job at some point but the defensive based coach is not where the most immediate impact can be made right now – at least that is the perception.

His counterpart Jim McElwain left as the OC at Alabama. He went to Colorado State with an electric offense and now is the head coach at the University of Florida. I assume Alabama’s and Georgia’s next head coach will be offensively based.

Will Muschamp and Gene Chizik are now both coordinators at Auburn and North Carolina, respectively. Bob Stoops has roamed the sidelines seemingly forever at Oklahoma and is taking some heat for – guess what – offense. Strong is seen as one of the best defensive minds in the country and his success at Texas will end up being about the offense.

If you’re trying to center your team around a Tony Dungy philosophy of playing great enough defense to only give up two touchdowns and a field goal to win, I am worried about you. The best teams in the country will always have a balance of both offense and defense. But teams that are trying to work against the athletes they are recruiting because of offensive trends are swimming against the current.

The last thing any businessman wants to be in behind the times. You don’t want to own a beeper store in the age of cell phones. I still believe that defenses will win championships. We just all better be ready for the evolving norm of how great defense is measured.

Are we going to get to a place where holding a team averaging 42 points to 31 will be a great defensive day?

We’ll have to wait to ask the two offensively innovative teams playing for the national championship to see what happens for the 2014 season.