bluebland posted a thoughtful response to my post from earlier today reacting to the outcomes of this weekend's biggest matchup - Texas Tech v. Oklahoma - and other games of note (at least to me). I wanted to take some time to response some of the specific takes from blueband's post. He wrote:
Don’t forget that Oklahoma and Texas also run the spread — they just do it with far more talent on both sides of the ball. When Leach was the OC at Oklahoma, his offense clearly didn’t hurt the Sooner defense, and they went 13-0 for their only championship using his system. And I wouldn’t hold his OOC schedule against him, considering the competition he must face in conference, and his admirable success in bowl games.
The ultimate point in my mind about football coaching, particularly on offense, is creativity and a willingness to adapt. Right now the only successful programs running traditional, NFL style offenses are lopsided with talent, like USC and LSU. Even Ohio St. runs a spread.
I get that Oklahoma and Texas also runs "elements" of the spread offense. But so did Chow when he had the talents to work with at Southern Cal.
I think what folks need to remember here is that there has to be a balance between creativity/imagination and fundamentals in a good football team. bluebland noted:
Coach Neu seems like a bright and open mind. But I wince when I read that Al Borges would’ve been a leading candidate had Chow been unavailable, and I wince every time I hear dusty cliches like "punting is winning" and "field position" (which can turn on the slightest mistake, and is therefore unreliable).
Well some might wince at the though of emphasizing the punting/field position game, but I actually smiled because when I first heard those comments from CRN. They reminded me of another head coach (you referenced in your good post), who is considered one of the best in this game. From the Buckeye Planet:
As head coach, Tressel is known for a conservative style of play calling, winning games with just enough scoring, strong defense, and "playing field position." Tressel often refers to the punt as the most important play in football.
Yet Tressel as bluebland mentioned is not shy from using elements of spread offense, especially since he has talents like Pryor to work with.
The real point behind my Sunday post was urge people to show patience with CRN. Unlike his predecessors he did come in with a track record of winning big time football games both as a head coach and a football player. He also happens to be a very smart person, who got a law degree from one of the best law schools (yes, USC Law Center is one of the best that is out there) in the country.
I am not so worried about this guy not worrying about the innovations that is going on in the game. Given the way he has put his staff together bringing in people like Chow, I think he gets the importance of putting together an imaginative offense. What that punting comment showed to me that CRN also has a healthy respect for old school football and I happen to be from the school of thought that you need a good blend of old school fundamentals with the new school creativity we are seeing in the game. I happen to think CRN understands that.
Also, I believe CRN will bring us talent. We will end up with a decent class this year despite our on field record, and as our on field record gradually improves over next couple of years, I think CRN will reel in more, which will match the talent Toledo was bringing in following his 20 wins and Donahue was doing in the early 80s.
BTW bluebland expressed concern that CRN had considered Al Borges as an option at OC if Chow hadn't worked out. Borges as a backup plan was't a bad option considering what he did at UCLA. As our OC he only put together some of the more explosive offenses in our recent history. The man should get a little credit for that. And, I like the fact that CRN had him lined up as a possible backup plan.
From all the evidence I have seen so far, I happen to think CRN has shown he has a pretty good idea on how to get started with rebuilding this program and also pretty good ideas on how to strive towards a balance between creativity and old school fundamentals. Of course we are not going to see all of this bare fruit in his fist year. It will take some time and we will have to be patient. That was the real point of my post.