In an interview yesterday afternoon on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network, CBS color analyst Gary Danielson agreed with Alabama coach Nick Saban on the latter’s comments regarding the fad of hurry-up-no-huddle offense in college football.
To boil it down, Saban thinks that the fad poses a risk to defensive players and that the inability to substitute poses an unfair advantage for the offense.
But Danielson brings up another interesting point regarding how the field is marked and where the ball is placed in the game of college football.
In professional football, the hash marks line up with the goal posts and are 18 feet 6 inches apart. In college football, the hashes are much wider and are 40 feet apart. Whenever a play ends between the hash marks and the sideline or goes out of bounds, the ball is spotted in the hash closest to that side.
So there is an incentive for offenses seeking a substitution advantage to run plays towards their side of the field. This puts the spot in a location favorable for them to quickly substitute players, since the spot of the ball is so much closer to them than to the defensive team’s side.
Danielson is also more to the real point here—the whole idea of the HUNH offense is to sissify college football. It’s nothing but trick play after trick play, and results in an almost unwatchable product on the field. This is not supposed to be basketball on grass.
If you like that kind of play, you thought the Baylor – West Virginia game was good football. Most real football fans see that kind of game for what it is—an abomination.
Let’s be honest here, sports fans. The HUNH offense is a fad. It’s a gimmick akin to a bantamweight fighter running around trying to avoid the hammer blow of his heavyweight champion opponent and landing bee sting punches. Little buddy can run around all he wants, but sooner or later the big guy is going to bring the wood and it’s lights out.
Coaches espousing that type of strategy have to recruit certain types of players to make it work, and that’s true for both sides of their football team. They need smaller, speedier players on offense. Because their offenses are usually not on the field very long, they also need smaller, more athletic defenders who are better able to stay on the field for more plays.
As Texas found against Alabama in the 2010 BCS Championship Game, a well-coached defensive football team negates the speed advantage and exposes the less physical football team for what it truly is—a bunch of pansies trying to avoid the hammer. I’m not sure I’m on board with the idea that there’s a greater risk of injury for the better athletes teams like Alabama, LSU, Florida and Notre Dame have on the field this year. But to the thinner defenses of teams like USC, Tennessee and Michigan, that risk is much higher. Those defenses are much more likely to be gassed after multiple 15+ play drives that only use a few minutes of the clock and never allow them to substitute.
Mark my words: No team running any variation of the HUNH spread offense is going to win a national championship without a quarterback named Cam Newton or Tim Tebow. Those kinds of players come around very rarely, and looking around the landscape right now I don’t see Superman’s cape flapping around.
Those guys made bad football look good, but at the end of the day, it’s still bad football.
Danielson doesn’t enjoy that product on the field. Neither does Nick Saban, and neither does anyone else who understands what the game of college football is supposed to be about.
You can listen to the entire interview here.