Blogger ping-pong, round two: if loving five-star players is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Michael Elkon wants to know if he’s answered all the questions I posed in this post (which was a response to this post of hispock!).  The short answer is… I’m not sure.

I get his point that it’s not an ideal strategy for a program to try to slam the round plug of talent it has on campus into the square hole of the scheme it runs, I do.  And Florida in Corch’s last season is an excellent example of where that kind of decision making can get you – although in Meyer’s defense, Brantley wasn’t just a highly rated prospect, he was a legacy commitment which made it hard for the program to turn him away.

Buuuuut, going back to my questions,

  1. It seems to me that if you want to focus on what Florida did through the prism of John Brantley, then Will Muschamp’s decision to abandon the spread option for a pro-style scheme is defensible as a move to better use key talent.  Of course, the problem for Florida’s offense this season (aside from Brantley’s injury) is that the Gators didn’t have the right kind of talent to deploy around its quarterback in the new scheme.
  2. I think Texas is the better poster boy for Michael’s argument because there wasn’t a change at the head coaching position.  Mack Brown called the shots, from recruiting to talent deployment.  If you’re going to argue that a new head coach should be hired with the existing schemes in mind or run the risk of how what Michael calls “forced evolution” will affect the program, that’s either going to mean shrinking the available pool of coaching talent for hire or forcing the round peg into the square hole at the coaching level instead of the talent level.  (Besides, I doubt you’ll find many Gator fans complaining about the forced evolution from the Zooker to Corch.)
  3. I still think the contrarian argument holds some water, particularly with at the level Florida recruits.  You can compete for SEC and national titles playing pro-style offense, as LSU and ‘Bama have demonstrated.
  4. I’m not sure if this is exactly on-topic, but it’s worth considering that however much Texas’ offense has declined, that hasn’t been the case with its defense, at least since after the 2007 season, even though Brown has been willing to swap out defensive coordinators and schemes with as much frequency.
  5. I don’t want to put words in Michael’s mouth, but it sounds like he’s taking a wait and see assessment as to Michigan.  But it seems to me that some of the election results are in:  the Wolverines declined from 8th to 35th in total offense in Hoke’s first year.  (Granted, that’s not as significant as the fall at either Florida or Texas, but some of that is likely due to how good Denard Robinson is, regardless of scheme.)  That doesn’t mean the decision to replace Rodriguez with Hoke isn’t justified – the trip to a BCS game for the first time in several years suggests otherwise.  But it does indicate that there’s more to consider with a coaching change.

Not to contradict Michael’s overall premise, but I think there’s a bigger matter to watch with forced evolution.  It’s reasonable to expect a drop off with a dramatic adjustment of scheme, because of the likely bad fit with existing personnel.  The issue for an AD should be whether the new man has a clear plan to get the program to a better place, or in the cases of Meyer and Brown, has the old guy lost sight of where he’s trying to go in making the changes.  The answer at Michigan seems to be yes (with Michael’s perceptive point about the next quarterback in mind).  As for Texas and Ohio State… let’s just say they’re paying a lot of money at those two places to find out.


UPDATE:  Chris Brown kibitzes, and, as usual, has much smarter things to say on the subject than I do.  Although I didn’t need to be reminded of this:

… The most “pro-style”-ist pro teams need great quarterbacking, but teams like LSU and Alabama do not. The reason: compared to their opponents, LSU and Alabama are simply much better teams, advantages that pro teams and very few, if any, other college teams have.



Filed under College Football, Strategery And Mechanics

14 responses to “Blogger ping-pong, round two: if loving five-star players is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  1. Matt

    I’m also reminded of Tubberville’s last season in Auburn when he brought in Tony Franklin to run a spread offense w/Auburn’s pro-set personnel. That didn’t work out so well either.


  2. Mayor of Dawgtown

    A football team is just that–a team. It requires different players at different positions having different skill sets. How good would a basketball team be that had all 7 footers but nobody who could dribble, pass the ball or shoot from the outside? And before we all go postal on Florida for Corch screwing up the recruiting his last 2 season on Gatorland there but for the grace of God go we–the University of Georgia. We had so few O-linemen that it was absolutely critical that nobody get injured. We also had so few RBs that we had to move a LB there and we still ran out by the end of the season. What’s amazing is that UGA had the season it did while fielding an incomplete team. Thank you O-linemen. Thank you 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th string RBs. “Never have so many owed so much to so few.” Winston Churchill.


    • Still amazed at how well Richt, Bobo, & the entire Offensive coaching staff did with what they had to work with. QB, TE, & FB were pretty much settled but RB, WR, & OL were far from settled. There was a lot of questions & problems that they had to address. I agree that we did field an incomplete team & one that had to continual evolve as the season progressed. You just have to be pleased with the results & the job that all of the coaches did.


    • Cojones

      Damn good observation and post, Mayor. Apropros. It also takes a dash of luck for a winning team to continue.


  3. The coaches job is to put players in a position to succeed. Corch did that with Chris Leak adding a FB and TE to provide more protection of the pocket. Why wasn’t that possible for Brantley? Was it just because they had Demps and Rainey instead of a bigger back in Ciatrick Fason?

    Recruit to fit your scheme, but adapt your scheme to best suit the players in it. As for the Hoke discussion, pigeonholing your possible hires to fit the scheme of the guy you just fired seems beyond asinine.


  4. 2 of the SEC coaches who I consider to be the very best had different approaches.
    Pat Dye won by changing his O (&D?) to make the best use of the talent(s) on the team.
    Spurrier won by recruiting the players needed to make his O (&D ?) productive. Still they both were ultra successful.


  5. Bulldog Joe

    Pat Dye won by loading his team up with Prop 48 athletes and paying them well.

    Once the SEC limited Prop 48 recruiting and the pay-for-play scheme was exposed, he stopped winning.


  6. gastr1

    Outstanding link, Senator. Essentially the schemers need to do so to make up for lesser talent, i.e., the Flats. Exactement, Monsieur.


  7. Hey Joe, That is good to know.
    I just remember saying in 83 that the Dawgs better win that day because it would be a long time before they beat Auburn again, They Didn’t & the next Dawg Win was the upset in Auburn when they turned the hoses & sprinkler system on us after the game.
    Regardless or irregardless of why or how, Pat Dye was very successful against the Dawgs after Herschel left & played us tight while Herschel was there.


  8. Cojones

    Senator, just for this ole fart’s ADD, would you please limit the ping-pong articles? I did wade thru the peanut butter that you two spread out there, but you both had answered all the questions before posing the same to us. This 5-tiered Q&A makes my brain hurt. Of course it could be an early warning of a stroke.

    I could add that the 4 or 5-star designation for each player is subjectively deceptive to coaches coaching , schemes and QB deployment to the extent that it all is mox (sic) nix to any kind of relevance not based on luck.


  9. Jeff

    If 2 NFL teams could draft 5 players for every 4 players the other teams drafted, those NFL teams would probably be significantly better than the other teams regardless of style, as well.

    I don’t understand how Georgia fans aren’t more pissed about this every single day.


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