David Wunderlich’s latest post is interesting to me, not because of its now anodyne “Dan Mullen must recruit better” theme (although I am enamored of his “23rd nationally in the 247 Sports Composite, right below South Carolina and Georgia Tech and just ahead of Iowa State and Rutgers” note on Florida’s current recruiting status), but because he makes an argument that, generally, college football has entered a new phase, offensively speaking.
It’s because college football is in a phase where talent is largely winning out over scheme.
… The decade from about 2004-2013 was the era when spread schemes of all kinds from the Meyer-style option attacks to the very simple pass attack at Baylor that spread the field literally as wide as is possible. That was a time when Chip Kelly could take Oregon to the national title game in 2010 while sporting a four-year recruiting average of 18.75 according to Rivals, and everyone thought the other team in the game was the flukey performer.
Era definitions are always fuzzy, but that time was when Dan Mullen rose to prominence as quarterbacks coach at Utah, offensive coordinator at Florida, and head coach at Mississippi State.
I marked 2014 as the beginning of a new era because that’s when Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin to run his offense. One of the most successful run-and-defense coaches gave in and decided to ride the new wave of offense.
… The big powers have subsumed all of the spread’s tricks. What comes after the spread is unclear…
But while offenses are still ahead of defenses, there are no attacks that are so schematically unique anymore that they can lift up a team that averages a recruiting ranking in the teens to true national contention.
Or, to put it more succinctly, in the words of Kirby Smart, “… Guys, if you don’t recruit, there’s no coach out there that can out-coach recruiting. I don’t care who you are. The best coach to ever play the game better be a good recruiter because no coaching is going to out-coach players.”
I’m not sure I buy the argument in its totality. For one thing, nobody else is duplicating Georgia’s defensive success this season. But I will say that I think David’s right about defenses starting to catch up to offenses again and if we are in fact entering a time where the strategic playing field is leveled to some extent between the two, then, yes, talent returns to playing its longstanding role before the spread upset the general state of affairs.