#TheTop25 This is my series on the 25 Players, Coaches, Schemes, and Incidents That Made Me Love College Football. I will link the other pages in the Top 25 as they are posted. 21-25: Ray Lewis, Texas-Nebraska, Statue of Liberty, Andy Dalton and Power Read.
Preview Post- Andy Dalton Running Power Read
#21 Wishbone, Flexbone, and I Triple Option
The variety and innovation on offense that college football brings is what made the old EA NCAA Football games more fun to play than the Madden series, and what makes it so fun to watch. I love watching Navy’s Flexbone upset Notre Dame. I loved watching Nebraska run the I-Formation Triple Option back in the 80’s and 90’s. Part of my childhood was watching Jamelle Holieway run Barry Switzer’s Wishbone, and watching the Miami Hurricanes finish 3-0 against said Wishbone offense. The triple option will forever be part of college football whether under center or in the gun and that’s what makes CFB unique.
I’ve written a bunch about the GT Flexbone for StateoftheU.com and about how more bad teams should run the Flex here on IMFB. Paul Johnson has more double digit winning seasons than George O’Leary and Bobby Ross did, yet he gets no respect because of this style of offense.
Barry Switzer won multiple national titles running the wishbone. When Troy Aikman came to town, he tried a more “pro style” approach and really it wasn’t on fire. When Troy went down with a broken leg against Miami in ’85, Jamelle Holieway stepped in as the only freshman to win a national title. Oklahoma finished 0-3 against Miami from 1985-1987 but I really loved the Miami speed against the Sooners’ wishbone, and hell, both programs were rooted in live hard / play hard.
The I Formation Triple Option
When Miami was on fire, they could shut the triple option down like no other because of their make up speed and ferocious hitting. Everyone on those Miami teams hit, even the corners.
#22 Ray Lewis vs Colorado and The Fight
It was far from a perfect game for Ray Lewis as the #3 #Canes took on #13 Colorado back in 1993. But for a skinny true freshman to face Kordell Stewart and Rashan Salaam and record 14 tackles, a week after he picked up 12 against Virginia Tech as a sub is nothing short of legendary. The New York Times had a nice pre-Colorado article about Lewis, and his academic struggles. The Times also talked about the brawl and the emergence of Lewis here. Watching the full game really shows you how much a young player can grow up over the course of four quarters.
The video below is cued up to the brawl
#23 The Texas-Nebraska Upset and the SWC’s Death
The Southwest Conference died sort of in 1991, but also sort of by 1996. It was a sudden weird demise, much like the meteoric rise of the region and its business moguls. When blue collar families in poor rural Texas found oil and became billionaires- you get the SWC. The demise of the SWC came with the SMU death penalty featured in the Pony Excess 30 for 30. It was about flashy cars, private jets, hookers and cash.
The 1996 Big 12 (a mix of SWC and Big 8 teams) Conference title game was its first and featured #3 Nebraska highly favored over Texas where the backfield featured Priest Holmes and Ricky Williams. The Huskers lost to Arizona State early on but roared back with 9 straight wins heading into the conference title game and a chance at a national title against the Florida State Seminoles. The Longhorns on the other hand had 4 losses (yeah they lost 5 games including the bowl with two elite NFL backs) and were unranked. The first ever Big 12 title game is one for the ages but definitely kicked the conference in the family jewels. It cost Nebraska a chance at what could’ve become 6 trips to a national title game in 7 years. Instead, they lose to Texas and Florida goes on to upset FSU in the Sugar Bowl.
#24 The Boise State-Oklahoma Statue of Liberty Play
Big Game Bob Stoops just retired and no one is quite sure why… health? just because? Mixon-DeDe-Baker triple threat? Then Broncos now Huskies Head Coach Chris Petersen was known for his trick plays and taking advantage of playing anyone, anytime, anywhere. What many people don’t remember is the BSU Broncos used a trick play to get into the end zone in the first place, then again for the 2 point conversion to knock off the Sooners.
This trick stuff put Jared Zabransky on the cover of NCAA 2008. The game had the Statue of Liberty play and other tricks as the focus of the game.
A nice coaching video about “Circus” the Wildcat type play, and the Statue of Liberty
#25 Shovel Option
Every time the shovel option comes back around it’s a thing of beauty. I remember Dan Marino throwing one for a pick 6 against the Jets once. And in the Colorado/Miami game from 1993 the Buffs run it to perfection against the ‘Canes. More fondly I think of the Utah and Florida teams coached by Urban Meyer and Matt Canada’s offense at Pitt. Hell, we even ran it when I coached at UHS in Orlando and it worked every single time. I got pretty stoked when Coach Canada started running shovel again and wrote about it on IMFB.
Reggie Pettiford catches a shovel pass at UHS
Urban Meyer’s TE shovel to that murderer dude
The Pitt Shovel with motion to mess with the defenses eyes