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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Three yards and a cloud of dust... gone. I've been assembling the remaining eight season previews of Big Ten teams and one thing has jumped out: I am constantly talking about spread this, slot that, blah blah blah. The Big Ten has suddenly gone to a spread-crazy conference (no doubt a shamefully unsophisticated spread crazy conference, but here in the Midwest we can't handle the trooth).

Examine the following:

  • Full spread teams (5): Purdue, Michigan State, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana
  • Elements of the spread (2): Ohio State, Penn State
  • Spread this (4): Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa
By spread I mean the shotgun quick-routes QB-running thing. Spread mania has, uh, spread: fully five teams will employ some variant of the spread this year as their base offense, and both Ohio State and Penn State will adopt it at least occasionally to take advantage of their athletic quarterbacks. Seven of eleven teams. Last year it was three plus Penn State attempting to convince people they were clever.

That's sort of depressing. One of the things about college football I'm terribly fond of is the whacked out variety of offenses nationwide. (And right, right, all those offenses are vastly different in ways that make them markedly inferior to "sophisticated" ones, but we're talking aesthetics here.) I have a lingering antipathy for Nebraska stemming from the whole 1997 thing, but I was appalled when they abandoned their wonderful, anomalous option offense in favor of a 70-10 asskicking at the hands of Texas Tech. I am now actively rooting for Bill Callahan to fail miserably so that the Cornhuskers revert to their pitch-crazy ways. Tom Osborne is governor or something, right? Can't he do something about this? It is filthy and wrong to see the ugly red N helmets tossing the ball around like the last sixty years actually happened. Now the last outposts of a crushing, line-you-up-and-kick-your-ass ground game are scattered about the non-BCS conferences. There's no weird national title contender, and I miss it. The NCAA should institute a rule where if you line up in the shotgun 90% of the time viewers get to punch you after the game.