Barry Switzer was one of the great college coaches of the last 50 years, leading Oklahoma to three national titles.
He recently answered three questions by Olin Buchanon of Rivals.com and I found the answers to be very interesting.
Q: Could teams still be successful with the Wishbone offense?
Switzer: “No one wants to run it. No one has the discipline, belief, wherewithal and determination to make it happen. I believed in the running game and option and play-action passes. Now, everyone runs the spread offense with four or five receivers, moving people around and getting in the shotgun.
“If you have a quarterback that can attack the perimeter with option plays nobody can slow them down. That’s kind of a dinosaur offense. But you could win today if you plugged the right players into the playbook. But there’s no disciples of the running game. Mark Clayton (former OU receiver) was a wishbone quarterback in high school. He would have been the one playing quarterback for me.”
I found the topic of the wishbone to be particularly enlightening. I’ve felt for a while that if an elite school brought that scheme back, it would run roughshod over college football for a couple years.
The reason is pretty simple. Unlike in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Bone was in vogue, high school players now enter college with hardly any knowledge of how to defend this type of option attack. Today’s young coaches haven’t been exposed to it and don’t know its intricacies.
Imagine if a USC, Oklahoma or an LSU put its best athletes in the Wishbone. Defenses currently configured to stop spread attacks and passing schemes would have to scramble to prepare. It would be a tough thing to do during the course of a season, unless you had the talent and depth on defense to adjust.
Not that the Wishbone would run rampant for long. Just like in the 1980s, it would eventually be figured out by speedy defenses and rendered obsolete, relegated for use only as a gimmick by lesser talented teams such as Navy.
But for a couple seasons, it would be pretty effective.