Although rooted in tradition, college football is still a pretty progressive sport. Progress is evident in all the new, fancy, and innovative offenses all the time. While the NCAA and your grandfather are dragging their feet in the name of history, everyone else in college football is taking dramatic steps forward.
However, the past should not be ignored. We were all taught that we would be doomed to repeat our past mistakes if we chose to not learn from them. So learning, or even re-learning from the past, while combining the idea of progression and tradition, can be a strength for the sport going forward.
Why? Because college football has strayed from its past in a way that needs rectifying.
One of college football’s greatest past mistakes being, the slow death of the triple option.
I’m not talking about any other form of option. Not the spread, zone-read, or any other wacky thing that Oregon hurls out there for opponents to game plan against. I am talking about a team that opts to run the ball 80 percent of the time; with a quarterback with fewer passing attempts than you or I have made at a bar on Singles Night; and a fullback, halfback, and tailback combination that would make Tom Osborne smile from that big Memorial Stadium in the sky.
Wait, Tom Osborne is not dead yet?
Well, if he was, he’d be turning over in his grave.
This likely isn’t the direction he envisioned when Tommie Frazier was running wild and the Nebraska Cornhuskers were ripping the world of college football to shreds — sometimes doing so with a huge plays of 60-plus yards, others via three yards and a cloud of dust.
Maybe I am being a traditionalist now. I enjoy the uptempo style of play many college football programs utilize, yet yearn for the days when I can watch a team without the ability to throw the football.
Yeah, yeah. Georgia Tech has Paul Johnson. It has worked there, with some success, but unreasonable expectations are going to force him out sooner rather than later. It doesn’t help he plays in a major conference, either.
And therein lies a problem. In today’s college football world, it would be incredibly hard to build a national power on the triple-option. Honestly, very few top dual-threat quarterbacks are going to say, “You know what, I would really like to kill my potential draft stock by never throwing the football.”
So, naturally, my dream of the triple option making a comeback has to start at the lower levels of college football. I am not talking about Division III or II or whatever we call Division I-AA now (I don’t acknowledge the title FCS I’m sooo old school like that).
We aren’t talking the military academies either. That’s the route Johnson went, and while it did result in him landing a gig with a BCS level program, it didn’t bring back the triple-option in the sweeping way I hoped.
I am talking about some MAC school. Maybe a program in the American. Not the bottom of the bottom of Division I football, but certainly not in the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, or any other league that would poke more holes in the rebirth of the option than an NBA groupie to a player’s birth control plan.
The idea (or lack thereof, really) is simple: A bad or struggling program needs a lift. It can’t expect to keep up with the national powers — Not monetarily and certainly not on the recruiting trail. So, um, yeah. Hello, gimmick offense.
Other, more moderns forms of option offense typically require a top-tier type quarterback; maybe not a Cam Newton, but someone who is competent enough to hurl at a wide receiver a few times a game. And let’s be honest here, the bottom team in the MAC isn’t luring any of those type of prospects in to play the position.
These kind of programs can, in turn, help under-the-radar prospects — find guys without a place or position at the college level. Probable two-star level or unrated recruits without a lot of scholarship options, and let them know they have a home with the Club State Pool Cleaners.
Club State might be able to find a guy other programs wanted to play defensive back or wide receiver and entice him with the prospect of playing quarterback — and turning that into an NFL opportunity. The recruiting pitch: Even without throwing the football, he could become a promising NFL prospect excelling as a collegiate, triple-option quarterback. Stand out running that offense, and pro teams may give you a look at running back, safety or wide receiver.
You know, like Jordan Lynch or the much discussed but failed Eric Crouch-playing-every-position project.
This may not be realistic, or even make an ounce of sense. It’s also not lost on me that daydreaming for an announcer to say “Wishbone”, “Veer”, and “I-Formation triple-option” on the regular, are about as likely to fruition as my goal of having Christina Ricci go on a date with me.
And really, Ricci being my dream girl, probably says a lot about me. It probably says a lot about my idea of having the triple-option be a legitimate thing of consequence in major college football again, too.
Like Ricci, however, good things like the triple-option are hard to keep down for long. Ricci, a former child star turned into serious thespian/Lifetime Movie regular/never-goes-away-actress, is too good of a thing for Hollywood types to turn a blind eye to.
As desperate as casting directors might be to find the new “It” girl, they keep going back to Ricci because she is a sure thing: talented, beautiful and experienced. A known, proven, wonderful and reliable commodity.
Somewhere, right now, a low-level assistant is drawing up their version of some new, fancy innovative offense. Sure, it’s progress and he could be the next Chad Morris or Chip Kelly. But not every coach is going to develop an offense that’s going to be the Jennifer Lawrence of schemes, nor should they all try. Not when there’s better options out there.
Christina Ricci is already here. And if I know anything about anything, Ricci is college football’s triple-option. Or something. Either way, we need more of both.