Good piece here by CBS Sportline’s Dennis Dodd on the last six years of college football.
Dodd writes the following, and we agree:
This is not a golden age of college football, it is the golden age. Move over Knute and Grantland. We are living in revolutionary times, an era of unprecedented growth, popularity and innovation. The best players, best teams and best coaches of a generation have combined in this short period to give us things we thought we would never see.
And he recognizes how offensive innovation has been in the vanguard of that golden age–something we’ve been talking about for a while now:
Since the beginning of the 2000 season, all-time highs have been established in 10 of the 14 offensive categories tracked annually by the NCAA. In that period, the Division I-A records for average passing yards in a game (’03, ’05) and cumulative completion percentage (’04, ’05) have been broken twice.
Like it or not, scheme and style of play on offense–and its evolution–has always been the biggest influence on the game. Systems like the Single Wing, the Box, the T-Formation, the I-Formation, the Veer, the Wishbone and the various permutations of the Spread have, over the years, spawned changes in everything from defensive style and formations, to recruiting, to the size and speed of the players.
Utah broke the BCS stranglehold in 2004 with Alex Smith running a variation of (Delaware Coach Dave) Nelson’s old offense. West Virginia finished in the top five in rushing last year running the zone-read option. No Mountaineers offensive lineman weighed more than 290 pounds.
Nelson got his master’s degree from Michigan in 1946. Sixty years later can it be that Lloyd Carr — builder of beasts and brawn — is channeling the legendary coach? Carr actually wanted his offensive linemen to lose weight in the offseason.
Most importantly, offensive innovations have allowed teams without talent to not only compete with the big boys but also to become big boys themselves. And so we see a former lightweight like Louisville moving to the Big East, where it now has a shot to do something that was inconceivable just a few short years ago–win a national title.
Defense may win championships, but you have to be in position to recruit the talent needed to field that championship defense. That first requires building an identity and establishing a winning tradition as a program.
That’s exactly what Louisville has done, thanks in no small part to its offensive prowess.