Bear Bryant & the Spread

Smart Football has an informative post up examining an offensive play run by Alabama Crimson Tide legend Paul W. “Bear” Bryant with the shovel option play run in the spread by Florida Gator coach Urban Meyer. The analysis comes complete with some video. (H/T Blutarsky)

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  1. 1
    E.G White

    Don’t even want to get involved with the possibilities of that discussion. It’s too absurd to consider. It’s like Magellan inventing the GPS, and I’m not talking about the brand name either!

  2. 2
    capstonereport

    If you read the post at Smart Football, the author says something I’ve been saying for years about sports—this is all cyclical. The spread isn’t anything new; it just has a few new wrinkles on things done in the past.

  3. 3
    Auburn is a joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    Look at the wishbone. How many championships did it win the Bear ? If someone ran it today (like G.Tech) People would have a hard time defending it.

  4. 4
    E.G White

    Well the wishbone is another animal. Bama ran a hybrid that combined components of the veer. It was the only wishbone that included a dangerous passing game and was the most successful offense of the decade. But the pros killed it because they had no use for a running qb. Just like they’re gonna kill the spread because the qb can’t function to pro standards under center. Hell, I think Bama should run the W-bone right now what with Richardson, Ingram, Upchurch, Grant, Lacy, Marrow, Arenas, Scott, Maze, Peek, Jones, etc. in the backfield and at ends. It’d be a massacre. Especially since every team would have to put in a new and strange to them defense just for the Bama game. But unfortunately CNS is not an experimental kind of guy. Ho hum.

  5. 5
    Bamaman

    EG, I got fired up when you spit out those top notch players, the stable truly is filling up with plenty of future NFL players. . . . .

  6. 6
    julio

    Cappy, I agree with you on the offenses being cyclical. They always have, and they always will. I also agree that the pro’s aren’t as wild about spread qb’s as they are the conventional qb’s. However, all that could also be said about the wishbone as well. That didn’t stop Bama, Oklahoma, and Nebraska from stockpiling enough talent to be dominant with the WB in the 70’s. I really think the spread will play out the same way, and it will eventually fade out the same way. Hell, the spread is a lot more similar to the WB than meets the immediate eye. The catch to both offenses is to get playmakers in one on one matchups and force the defense to play assignment football.

  7. 7
    finebammer

    let’s be clear about one thing: the pros didn’t “kill” the wishbone.

    evolving defenses did.

    the wishbone and all it’s derivatives were (and are) successful because they took advantages of weaknesses at the d-line. when coach bryant adopted the bone he wanted to take advantage of the big, slow d-linemen of the day.

    it is said one of the reasons coach bryant retired is because he felt the need to again revamp his offense as he did when he adopted the ‘bone but was not physically up to it.

    it’s also a fact that a combination of pat dye’s recruiting at his new job at auburn in the early eighties and bryant’s age affected the quality of talent playing at alabama in bryant’s last years.

    was the demise of the wishbone more affected by evolving defenses or the circumstances around state recruiting at the time???

    had bryant been a younger man, more able to fend off the challenge of dye at auburn, would the wishbone been more effective longer at alabama???

    regardless, the nfl had nothing to do with the college game moving away (and back to) the option attack. some of the greatest players of that day came out of coach bryant’s wishbone system.

    dwight stephenson. don shula said he was the greatest center he ever coached.

    ozzie newsome.

    don mcneal.

    richard todd.

    tony nathan.

    anybody remember a couple of guys whose last names are hannah???

    nfl o-line coaches in the ’70’s LOVED o-linemen from wishbone teams. they were faster, had better footwork and were more agile.

    i know i’m missing many names from that era.

    think of all the nfl greats from other wishbone teams across the nation.

    remember earl campbell???

    now nfl teams are incorporating option plays into their offenses.

    arkansas’ “wild hog” formation is morphed into the “wild” whatever according to the nfl franchise using it.

    my dolphins use the “wild flipper”!

    it is truly “cyclical”.

  8. 8
    julio

    finebammer, I agree with you. The fact that the pro’s aren’t snatching up spread qb’s isn’t going to be that big of a threat to the spread, no more than it was to the wishbone. There’s a lot of people who come to this blog that think otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, there will be some recruits who look the other way because of the spread. But there will be just as many recruits who come to the team because of the spread. Case in point, Auburn lost Enrique Davis b/c of the spread but picked up some receivers that wouldn’t have ever given AU a thought without the spread. As to qb’s, you need a mobile-dual threat type player to really be effective in the spread. Those type qb’s aren’t usually a great fit in the drop back, pro-style offenses any way. Hell, Jason Campbell and Brodie Croyle were the 1st qb’s from Bama or Auburn to start in the NFL in 30 years anyway. Neither school has been known as a pipeline to the NFL for qb’s for a long time, anyway.

    P.S. The pros will snag their share of spread qb’s, too. Bradford, McCoy, and Tebow will all be 1st rounders next year. I was surprised about Graham Harrel and Chase Daniel this year, though.

  9. 9
    Auburn is a joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    Thanks for pointing out the fact that Bama and Auburn arent quarterbaack schools. What happened to Star “the answer” Jackson. Has he dropped off the face of the earth ?

  10. 10
    E.G White

    Finebammer I agree with some of your points, but some are pure theory or opinion and you know what they say about opinions. However, I’m not going to debate each one. Only an idiot would think I meant the pro’s actually had an active hand in intentionally killing the ‘bone. Simply, they had no use for ‘bone qb’s. My memory fails me, but I cannot remember any ‘bone qb making it in the pro’s. If the pro’s won’t recruit a certain style of qb then the best qb’s will choose a college that gives them the best chance to make it to the pro’s and that multi-million dollar future. If over and over again school’s can’t get the qb’s they need to be successful then they are going to look at changing their offense. That’s how the pro’s aided the demise of the ‘bone and how they influence the spread the same way. You can quote names of rb’s, linemen and recievers all you want, but qb’s run the team, are the highest paid and the easiest hurt. As goes the qb, goes the team. You’re already seeing the pro distaste for spread qb’s, and soon it will start to affect the college game. This year alone they shunned Ghram Harrell, Chase Daniels and Anderson of Utah. Pluto, McCoy is NOT a spread qb. Texas does not run the spread nor does OK State. As for Bradford, the pro’s see something in him that overshadow’s his spread ‘shortcomings’. I’m not convinced he’ll be picked in the top ten myself. And it is widely known that the pro’s have little interest in Tebow as a qb. Just ask CUM. He’s changing his offense up this year just for Tebow. He plans to put him under center to get him experience to help him with the pro’s. Now dude that’s pretty damn serious, and IMO a huge indictment of the spread! That’s all. Bye. RTR!

  11. 11
    Auburn is a joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    I gues some college teams are content with winning the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP !!!!!!!!!!!! Instead of worrying about what round their quarterback gets drafted in. I think I would be satisfied with a possible 3 out of 4 championships. But appearantly not you egg.

  12. 12
    julio

    EG, you can get caught up in your own personal definition of “the spread” if you want to, but you’re crazy if you think Texas isn’r running a spread offense under McCoy. I’ll admit it’s somewhat of a variation with a few more traditional sets, but the spread is the bread and butter of that offense (i.e. qb out of the shotgun with multiple receivers). McCoy took a total of 8 snaps from under center in the Fiesta Bowl last year. Granted, that’s more than Texas Tech, but that still means around 90% of the plays were run out of the shotgun. And as you have repeatedly (and correctly) said on this site, it’s “operating out of the shotgun” that turns the pro’s off.

    P.S. The only WB QB that I can recall ever making it in the pro’s was Richard Todd.

  13. 13
    Auburn is a joke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian

    Egg is confused by truth and facts julio.

    All that matters to Egg is ROLLLLLL EMMMM EFFEENNNN TIIDEEEEEEE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. 14
    E.G White

    Hmm. Before I agree I’d like to know where you get those tidbits from? It’s not a normally publicized stat on how many snaps a qb takes from any particular position, and I sure as hell don’t think you watched the game and counted. I live in Texas and watch the Big 12. McCoy generally takes snaps from the shotgun, but that doesn’t mean it’s the spread. Many teams use the shotgun in definite passing situations to give the qb more time and a better view of the field. Texas just takes it to the extreme and runs it most of the time, and it works well for McCoy. But Texas also prides themselves on their running game. Suit yourself, but personally I would call the Texas offense a hybrid pro-set using the shotgun formation on passing downs. I would not call it a hybrid spread, and I don’t think Mack Brown or Major Applewhite would either. As for Richard Todd, he was a fairly decent qb for the Jets. But the wishbone almost killed it for him. Bear would have the offense run normal plays at practice when there were pro scouts in the stands just so they could see that Todd could actually throw the ball. Even that wasn’t enough. Joe Namath had to use his influence to get the Jets to draft Todd. I’m telling you, weird offenses and the Pros just do not mix. And as goes the pros so goes the qb’s. And as goes the qb’s so goes the college offenses. Look, the spread is a gimmick offense. It scores points and points win ballgames. It works in High School because there’s no player pool to draft the defensive athletes neccesary to defend it. You gotta play who you got. It works in college because only the schools in Bama’s class can consistantly recruit the athletes neccesary to defend it, and that translates into 9 to 10 wins a year which keeps the wolves at bay. But the pros can buy whoever they want or need to shut it down, therefore you’ll never see the pros run it and therefore the spread qb’s are screwed. You can take it from there.

  15. 15
    E.G White

    Hmm. Before I agree I’d like to know where you get those tidbits from? It’s not a normally publicized stat on how many snaps a qb takes from any particular position, and I sure as hell don’t think you watched the game and counted. I live in Texas and watch the Big 12. McCoy generally takes snaps from the shotgun, but that doesn’t mean it’s the spread. Many teams use the shotgun in definite passing situations to give the qb more time and a better view of the field. Texas just takes it to the extreme and runs it most of the time, and it works well for McCoy. But Texas also prides themselves on their running game. Suit yourself, but personally I would call the Texas offense a hybrid pro-set using the shotgun formation on passing downs. I would not call it a hybrid spread, and I don’t think Mack Brown or Major Applewhite would either. As for Richard Todd, he was a fairly decent qb for the Jets. But the wishbone almost killed it for him. Bear would have the offense run normal plays at practice when there were pro scouts in the stands just so they could see that Todd could actually throw the ball. Even that wasn’t enough. Joe Namath had to use his influence to get the Jets to draft Todd. I’m telling you, weird offenses and the Pros just do not mix. And as goes the pros so goes the qb’s. And as goes the qb’s so goes the college offenses. Look, the spread is a gimmick offense. It scores points and points win ballgames. It works in High School because there’s no player pool to draft the defensive athletes neccesary to defend it. You gotta play who you got. It works in college because only the schools in Bama’s class can consistantly recruit the athletes neccesary to defend it, and that translates into 9 to 10 wins a year which keeps the wolves at bay. But the pros can buy whoever they want or need to shut it down, therefore you’ll never see the pros run it and therefore the spread qb’s are screwed. You can take it from there.

  16. 16
    E.G White

    Hmm. Before I agree I’d like to know where you get those tidbits from? It’s not a normally publicized stat on how many snaps a qb takes from any particular position, and I sure as hell don’t think you watched the game and counted. I live in Texas and watch the Big 12. McCoy generally takes snaps from the shotgun, but that doesn’t mean it’s the spread. Many teams use the shotgun in definite passing situations to give the qb more time and a better view of the field. Texas just takes it to the extreme and runs it most of the time, and it works well for McCoy. But Texas also prides themselves on their running game. Suit yourself, but personally I would call the Texas offense a hybrid pro-set using the shotgun formation on passing downs. I would not call it a hybrid spread, and I don’t think Mack Brown or Major Applewhite would either. As for Richard Todd, he was a fairly decent qb for the Jets. But the wishbone almost killed it for him. Bear would have the offense run normal plays at practice when there were pro scouts in the stands just so they could see that Todd could actually throw the ball. Even that wasn’t enough. Joe Namath had to use his influence to get the Jets to draft Todd. I’m telling you, weird offenses and the Pros just do not mix. And as goes the pros so goes the qb’s. And as goes the qb’s so goes the college offenses. Look, the spread is a gimmick offense. It scores points and points win ballgames. It works in High School because there’s no player pool to draft the defensive athletes neccesary to defend it. You gotta play who you got. It works in college because only the schools in Bama’s class can consistantly recruit the athletes neccesary to defend it, and that translates into 9 to 10 wins a year which keeps the wolves at bay. But the pros can buy whoever they want or need to shut it down, therefore you’ll never see the pros run it and therefore the spread qb’s are screwed. You can take it from there.

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