“What it is, people are playing trick ’em football.”

It’s not just that Gary Danielson has this mental block about college offenses running anything other than good ole pro sets.  It’s that he’s becoming more and more incoherent about it.

“I think when Penn State plays Northwestern, and both teams run 98 offensive plays, and an NFL game has 65 to 70, the college powers-that-be need to look at their product.”

(For what it’s worth, Penn State ran 99 plays; Northwestern ran 61)

Danielson, a former NFL quarterback, said it’s “all fair” when the offense doesn’t allow the defense to substitute simply by running its plays quickly and exclusively with the personnel it has on the field. Where it becomes unfairly advantageous, Danielson said, is when the ball is placed close to the offense’s sidelines and it’s able to make substitutions so swiftly that the defense is forced to hold tight with the players it has on the field.

So which is it that offends – running too many plays or taking a substitution advantage?  Because those are two very different issues.

By the way, as a general rule of thumb, when somebody suggests that the college game needs to look at the product because the NFL does something better, feel free to cry bullshit.  The NFL is all about parity.  That’s not college.  If Hugh Freeze needs to scratch and claw to give his team a chance to stay on the field with Alabama, more power to him.  Because if all he does is line up and try to go toe-to-toe, Ole Miss is going to get waxed.

Maybe a forty-point blowout is Danielson’s cup of tea, but I doubt that’s a sentiment shared by a lot of people besides Saban acolytes.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

23 responses to ““What it is, people are playing trick ’em football.”

  1. Rick

    Interestingly, though, don’t the two games in question actually have an NFL-like level of parity? If so, the point doesn’t really apply here, does it?

    And to further play devil’s advocate, if ground rules were in place that reduced drastically the ability for lesser teams to compete by playing a weirder game of football, wouldn’t that put further pressure on getting rid of the cupcake games (one of GTP’s hobby horses)?


    • Rick

      By ‘two games in question’ I meant those from the article (Northwestern/Penn State and Nebraska/Ohio State).


    • Maybe you haven’t noticed how many teams employ the spread, no-huddle, warp speed approach to offense these days. It’s more than a couple.

      Don’t follow your second point. All it’s going to mean is that the conference doormats are going to continue to get whomped by the conference powers.


  2. I get what Saban’s doing. If he can do something off the field — in this case stand on his soapbox (which in his case is also stacked on a couple phone books) — that may influence the game in a way that will allow him to keep doing the same things on the field that he’s been successful with, he’s going to do that. I also get the other side of the coin, which is essentially the same thing: instead of just accepting the results of not recruiting at the same level, we’re going to do what we can to protect a perceived schematic advantage. I don’t have an issue with either side’s view or motives on this. All sides are acting on behalf of the interests of their program — and more specifically, their own job security. Except Danielson. Get that NFL garbage out of here.


    • Exactly. I don’t blame Saban in the slightest for his lobbying. He’s just trying to preserve an advantage he’s built. But it’s rank nonsense to insist that what he’s doing is fighting to make the product better, as Danielson suggests.


      • I think it’s a stretch to say he’s lobbying. He was simply answering a question.

        It’s also not a matter of liking offense vs. defense or parity. It’s about the structural integrity of the game.

        Things are changing and I have no doubt Saban will change with the times, but that doesn’t mean in the end we’ll like what we end up with.


    • Ubiquitous GA Alum

      Maybe Chip Kelley should come out & say that he thinks the NCAA should look at a team with a 3 deep full of LBs that run like safeties, DTs that run like LBs and stockpiles three 4-5 star RBs every year … I mean somebody is going to get hurt … think of the children and all that … /sarcasam


  3. BWD

    I thought the defense must be allowed to sub if the offense does. Is he saying teams are subbing so that no one notices, including the refs? Agree that college should not want to be NFL lite. who could stand every game being Alabama-style football with worse athletes and coaching?


  4. TennesseeDawg

    Saban just wants everyone to fall in line with his brand of football which plays to his strength. Anything that he sees out on the field that threatens his dominance he will be against.


  5. Scott W.

    Maybe if we view Gary’s comments from the POV that he’s paid to talk it’ll make more sense. Just talk, nothing with substance.


  6. RocketDawg

    And if you watch the NFL you will notice that the Pats and Packers are running a version of the no huddle,-pedal to the metal offense as well. Belichik has those two TE’s (Gronk and Hernandez) that can flex out as wideouts in a 4 WR set and then light up tight on the very next play in a two TE single back set without substitutions. Mark my words we’ll see the NFL go to more of the uptempo stuff in the near future,especially if teams like the Pats, Packers and Falcons have a mode of success with it.


  7. First off, I don’t even know what an acolyte is. I’m assuming it’s bad.

    Second, once again Saban’s remarks were presented almost totally out of context after the Ole Miss game. One item in particular that was left out was how offenses are allowed to move around after getting set – something that has not always been allowed.

    An offense can race to the line, get set, and then everybody turns around to look at the sideline for the play. And when you can do that right up until the play clock expires or if you have a quick snap count, it’s a definite advantage (unfair I would say) for the offense.

    Yeah, yeah, Saban should call the defensive plays quicker – everybody knows that – but it’s not like the defensive coaches were taking a nap.

    In this case, it’s not a matter of old man football vs. innovation, it’s about the spirit of the game.

    Y’all have a good day,



    • Cojones

      Accoler- French: To embrace.

      Lytos- Greek: That may be untied, soluble.
      Lyein-French: capable of decomposition.

      Accolyte: To embrace having your plans fucked up. , i. e. ,He doesn’t have to put up with that shit because he has no time for it.



      • Cojones

        Of course you could look up the word in a dictionary for another opinion, but I like the spelling with two “c”s.


  8. Careful Brad

    The only good point I have heard from Gary in the past two seasons came in last week’s game. He mentioned that if the defense had to be given time to sub why do the defensive players sprint off the field? Just go at a normal pace and that will give the defense more time between plays.


  9. MB

    Saban is trying to make this point too recently. Both are wrong. 7-3 defensive games like Bama/LSU 11′ wiht no offesne, are boring. The NFL figured that out. Td’s boost ratings and make more money. Saban is worried because he’s afraid things are tilting from favoring defenses, to favoring offenses.


  10. Scorpio Jones, III

    “7-3 defensive games like Bama/LSU 11′ wiht no offesne, are boring. ”

    If taking exception to that statement makes me a Saban acolyte, would somebody please pass the matches, I have some candles to light.

    What could possibly be boring about a game where every play, every play is important, and that any mistake, even the tiniest mis step, could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game?

    Maybe this kind of game is boring on TV, but having sat through more than one of these things live, I don’t remember ever being bored…scared shitless, afraid to breathe, sitting with my eyes closed, yes, but never, ever bored.

    But, then I like old man football. So does my good friend Steve.


  11. Will Trane

    So Saban got his jock strap all in a wad because Hugh Freeze’s offense drilled them for drive or two and Saban / Smart could not do anything about it. Freeze has a tough offense. Saban did not like his defense with their tongues hanging out there after a few 12-14 plays by the Rebs. He thought one of his legions of 5 star recruits were going to get hurt. There is no requirement to huddle. Can not subsitute 12. Saban can substitute on defense. Problem the offense is running in a package…a set with an alternate plus the personnel to make the play go. Plus they can force the d box to reset or move. What is the beef about that. It creates more offense, more offensive plays, and more points because the D has to work just as hard as the O. Once the O gets it going it is like running down hill, you just blow by the D personnel. Maybe Saban will do better next year against Ole Miss. Bet the Rebs don’t run a bunch of plays but give you a lot of looks. Ask Ty Smith at UGA. He played in a high school system like Ole Miss. Maybe Saban would like to prep with Louisiana Tech prior to the Ole Miss game. There are a lot of high school teams running this. Get used to it.