Hal Mumme had a baby and they named it the spread.

Maybe I’m a little late to the party here, but I think Barrett Sallee is ignoring some pertinent history when he writes,

For the spread to work in the SEC, it needs to be a run-first spread.  Florida finished No. 38 in rushing offense in 2006, and then followed it up with the nation’s No. 11 rushing offense in 2008.  In 2010, behind Cam Newton and Michael Dyer, Auburn hoisted the crystal football thanks to the nation’s sixth-ranked rushing offense.

I suspect Hal Mumme would disagree with that proposition.  And with good reason.

With a desire to utilize the entire field, a complete lack of inhibition and an assistant coach who would eventually become rather high-profile himself, Hal Mumme became perhaps the father of the spread offense. After winning big at the NAIA (Iowa Wesleyan) and Division II (Valdosta State) levels, Mumme got his shot at the big-time; he was brought to Kentucky, a program that was consistently outgunned in the mighty SEC (the Wildcats had won more than six games in a season just once in 19 years). The Wildcats immediately began setting offensive records and went to back-to-back bowl games in his second and third seasons. (Mumme also recruited the Jeremy Brown of college football, a quarterback once described by ESPN’s Sean Salisbury as “a biscuit short of three bills.”) Mumme couldn’t pull a complete turnaround in Lexington, but the aforementioned top assistant did pretty well, to say the least, running the offense they designed in Lubbock.

Just to give you an idea of what Mumme pulled off with his newfangled attack, compare Kentucky’s offensive stats from 1996, Bill Curry’s last season there, with the 1999 stats.  Notice a bit of an improvement there?  Kentucky’s 1999 yards per game average would have ranked the Wildcats fourth in last season’s SEC (and is about 115 ypg more than last year’s UK team averaged).

One more thing about that ’99 team of Mumme’s.  The quarterback that season was the immortal Dusty Bonner, who succeeded some guy named Tim Couch.  Couch, in his last season at UK, threw for 4,611 yards in 12 games.  That total would have led the SEC last season by more than 700 yards (and Arkansas played one more game).  That 1998 Kentucky team wound up playing in the Outback Bowl and Couch was a Heisman finalist.  How many other seasons can UK claim like that?  Maybe I’m missing something, but that strikes me as a pretty good indication that a pass-based spread attack could function just fine in the SEC.

Granted, none of Mumme’s Kentucky teams were world beaters, but that was because he never fashioned a decent defense in his time there.  That doesn’t mean his version of the spread didn’t tear the SEC a new one, though.

I have no idea how Kliff Kingsbury will fare this season.  But I’m not ready to write TAMU’s offense off before it hits the field.  At least not because Tony Franklin’s offense sucked at Auburn.


Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

10 responses to “Hal Mumme had a baby and they named it the spread.

  1. I’m nearly done reading Swing Your Sword and I am just enthralled with Mike Leach. What a ridiculously interesting guy that isn’t afraid to be different than his coaching peers. His whole philosophy on offensive balance, which I remember the Senator discussing here before, is so refreshing.


  2. Adam

    Great post. I often think writers come up with ideas first and make their statistics fit their conclusion more than letting statistics or facts shape their view.

    It’s nice to see someone put together a well-reasoned response.


  3. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Damn. I didn’t even know he was pregnant.


  4. Lrgk9

    You left off Macon’s own Chris Hatcher. National Championship at VD State as well. Rotten deal at GSU. Offered the UA OC slot and now slinging it at Murray State in the OVC.


  5. The other Doug

    Mike Leach would be at UK if Joker hadn’t pulled the upset of Tennessee.


  6. What term would we use to describe the Spurrier Fun ‘n’ Gun? And wouldn’t a 1990 version of Barrett Sallee be proclaiming that Spurrier’s offense might work at Duke, but it won’t work against big, bad SEC defenses?