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,
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.