Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Balance of Power in College Football

Heismanpundit asks a seemingly interesting question, "The question is, when will the MSM see the bigger picture, which is how these new trends are going to affect the balance of power in college football?" in regards to the change in offensive styles across the CFB landscape.

Personally, I'm not so sure that these new trends will affect the balance of power in college football. A gimmick is a gimmick is a gimmick. The best offense is still a balance of rushing and passing no matter how you go about doing it. Steve Spurrier didn't exactly revoluntize college football 10 or 15 years ago when he first got his Fun N Gun rolling in Gainesville. Sure he won a lot of games, but that has a lot more to do with the talent that was in Gainesville than anything special with his offense. He racked up a grand total of zero undefeated seasons in his tenure, though he did pick up a nice national title with a 1 loss season (which is something Auburn fans are probably wondering about right now).

There are a lot of offensive philosophies around the country right now. There is the pro-style balanced offense favored by teams like USC, Miami, Michigan, and Georgia (amongst a bunch of others). There is the spread offense that still maintains a balance with the rush favored by Oklahoma. Teams like Northwestern and now Florida run a hybrid spread offense that moves the QB around a lot. There is still the old fashioned rush based attacks of Ohio State and Wisconsin. The spread passing attack is still seen with Purdue and Hawaii and now South Carolina with Spurrier in town. In other words, if you can think of an offense there is probably a college football team running something similar to it.

But this isn't something new. All these offenses have been in play for 10 or 20 years if not more. Has the balance of power in college football changed 1 bit? Not really. The biggest change of power in college football is still the 85 scholarship limit. Let's look at the last decade of national champions:

2004 - USC (3)
2003 - USC (3), LSU (10)
2002 - Ohio State (6)
2001 - Miami (14)
2000 - Oklahoma (5)
1999 - Florida State (26)
1998 - Tennessee (9)
1997 - Michigan (4), Nebraska (7)
1996 - Florida (24)
1995 - Nebraska (7)

The numbers in parentheses are each program's all-time ranking according to CollegeFootballDataWareHouse. Not exactly a lot of parity if you ask me. The only 3 teams outside the top 10 in the history of college football are the 3 big Florida schools who have obviously all made huge strides in the last 30 years to join the upper echelon of programs.


And let's look at the maybe 10 or 15 programs that are in the best shape to win national titles in the next 5 years (by conference):

ACC - Florida State, Miami
Big East - pardon me while I stop laughing at myself for including the BE as a football conference
Big Ten - Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State
Big Twelve - Oklahoma, Texas
Pac Ten - USC
SEC - Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee

Sure you could include some others like Virginia Tech, or big names hopefully on the rise like Notre Dame, Alabama, and Penn State. But in reality, it's the same cast of characters as it was 10 or 20 years ago. Is it going to change any time soon? No.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Orson Swindle said...

There have been something like five or six undefeated season in college football since 1950, so it's not a slam on Spurrier to say he never had one. We do agree with you on the "nothing new under the sun" argument, though.

Mon Aug 15, 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Not sure I understand when you say five or six undefeated season(s) since 1950.

I mean USC 2004, OSU 2002, Miami 2001, Oklahoma 2000, Florida State 1999, Tennessee 1998, Michigan 1997, Nebraska 1997, Nebraska 1995, etc.

There have been a TON of major undefeated CFB teams since 1950.

But I do agree it isn't a slam on Spurrier to point out he has never had an undefeated season. But it is interesting that with all the gimmick offenses across the country that the vast majority of undefeated teams and national champs run basically the same offense. Pro-set (perhaps 3 WR base) balanced attack is still the way to go.

Mon Aug 15, 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Heisman Pundit said...

The fact that the spread offense was around or different styles were around before they became trends is irrelevant. Arkansas invented the wishbone (I think), but it was Oklahoma that perfected it and changed the landscape. BYU was one of the first teams to air it out that much, but it wasn't until later that that style hit the major powers. Now, that style and a couple other wide-open styles have crossed paths and hit a few teams and we are seeing the results. You bring up Spurrier. Well, Florida wasn't shit before Spurrier. He took what you call a 'gimmick' and dominated the SEC with it. When Spurrier was hired, do you think the MSM had any idea what he was about to do? This is why I think the MSM misses the boat in the story I cited--they got the diagnosis, but not the cure.

Mon Aug 22, 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Sorry, talent still wins ball games. You think Florida won because of their style of play? Hardly. They won because of the talent that was on their teams.

Tue Aug 23, 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Azher said...

isn't the big east renaming the conference louisville this year? some thing I heard somewhere...

Fri Aug 26, 03:56:00 AM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Yeah, the Big East is pretty quickly turning into a conference that doesn't deserve a guaranteed BCS slot. They aren't quite down in MAC or WAC territory yet, but they are definitely a notch below the 5 top conferences.

Fri Aug 26, 11:25:00 AM  

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