Bobo says he was simply following his philosophy as an offensive coach. He believes it’s a simple fact of competing in the Southeastern Conference that the most successful teams are capable both running and passing.
“You’ve got to do what’s best, what gives you the best chance for your football team to win,” Bobo said. “And I think especially in this league, if you look at the tradition of this league, it’s teams that are balanced and can run and throw, especially the last 10 years, (that win).”
So how true is that? I went to the SEC stats site to find out. Unfortunately, the conference only keeps stats going back to the’02 season, so we’ll have to make do with the information from the last six seasons. Here’s the list of the last six conference champs and how they ranked in the SEC in rushing offense and passing offense in the year each won the conference:
- 2007 LSU: 2nd in rushing; 5th in passing
- 2006 Florida: 3rd in rushing; 5th in passing
- 2005 Georgia: 3rd in rushing; 2nd in passing
- 2004 Auburn: 5th in rushing; 3rd in passing
- 2003 LSU: 2nd in rushing; 5th in passing
- 2002 Georgia: 9th in rushing; 3rd in passing
As you can see, only one team finished out of the top half of the conference in either statistical category in that period. That would seem pretty consistent with Bobo’s hypothesis.
But how did the teams these schools faced in the SECCG fare statistically in these two stats? Not quite so consistently, to be honest:
- 2007 Tennessee: 9th in rushing; 4th in passing
- 2006 Arkansas: 1st in rushing; 11th in passing
- 2005 LSU: 4th in rushing; 4th in passing
- 2004 Tennessee: 3rd in rushing; 4th in passing
- 2003 Georgia: 10th in rushing; 3rd in passing
- 2002 Arkansas: 1st in rushing; 12th in passing
Only two of the six runners-up in the SECCG managed to place in the upper half of the conference both running and throwing the football. And, in fact, three of these teams managed poor showings (lowest quarter or worse) in the conference standings in one category – although none of the three were worse than a top three performer in the other category.
As a general proposal, it looks like you can get to Atlanta by either being balanced on offense, or being really good running or throwing the football. But if you want to be the conference champ, it looks like it’s best to follow Bobo’s advice.