Why AU went to the spread: they can’t recruit

Blutarsky has an excellent examination and discussion of the spread option attack. One of the best elements pointed out was this Dennis Erickson quote in a Dennis Dodd piece:

“It’s all about mismatches,” Erickson added. “That spread stuff if you’re throwing it, you can get guys who can run who aren’t heavily recruited.”

Read that last line again: you can get guys who can run who aren’t heavily recruited.”

And there you have why Tommy Tuberville made the desperate move to the spread. He recognized AU couldn’t win the recruiting battle against Nick Saban.

But is it a good bargain? Probably not. Because Dodd points out you run off the best players with the college spread attack:

The spread will die out for the same reason the wishbone died out.

It doesn’t translate well to the NFL. Eventually, blue-chip offensive players will see their skills don’t necessarily translate well to the pros. They will start gravitating toward programs that can exploit their talents. Goodbye spread.

“We do point it out in recruiting battles,” said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who still runs a pro style offense. “(The NFL) looks at that from not only working with a quarterback but an offensive tackle who protects a drop-back passer.”

Bingo. AU has already lost a running back to Ole Miss due to the spread. Does anyone think Trent Richardson would be interested in Alabama and LSU if Urban Meyer ran a traditional offense instead of the spread?

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Richardson probably would be headed to play for the Gators. But he wants something to further his future. And can you blame the guy?

Potential pro QBs don’t want to play in the spread because, well, it isn’t great for development. Here’s some info from CFN. (Again this excellent quote via Blutarsky)

QBs in the Jeff Tedford / Mike Leach /Urban Meyer /Steve Spurrier systems rarely are asked to read more than a third of the field and tend to complete primarily short, dink-and-dunk passes that allow for quicker decisions to be made and more accuracy. Their systems do not promote the development of a quarterback but rather hide their shortcomings while padding stats that can easily fool not only the average fan but even the most experienced evaluator.”

The spread is good coaching—it covers up deficiencies—it is making lemonade from lemons. In other words, it doesn’t develop players, but works around glaring defects. Doubt development of QBs in the spread is bad? Here’s more from the same CFN article:

Mike Mayock, NFL Network: “The skills haven’t translated well. The footwork has been awful. Look at Joe Flacco (from Delaware) last year. He had the arm and the size and the skills to work with, but he has the talent to develop. You need to have the right scouting and coaching to figure out the player, and not the system. I never thought Vince Young was going to translate well to the NFL, he had way too far to go, and Alex Smith was an aberration; it was a down year for quarterbacks.”

The footwork has been awful.

That is a ringing endorsement of the spread and its coaches.

And you can be sure every football coach from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico while on the recruiting trial is letting recruits know about these spread problems. And that is the problem with desperate moves—you often end up in worse shape than before.