#TheTop25 now focuses on #’s 16-20. Talkin’ Texas Longhorns, Touchdown Jesus, Desmond Howard, the Heisman Trophy, Steve Spurrier, Dennis Erickson and RPO’s.
#16 Worshipping False Idols
There are many false idols of college football.
The Texas Longhorns
Texas is by far the most overrated program in college football. The coaches are overpaid, the fans over-expecting, and the boosters are ridiculous. That aside, they’ve won one national title since 1973 aka the modern era when the bowl games determined the national title, not pre-bowl polls that some teams adopted over time (LSU).
The Heisman Trophy
People underrate Desmond’s 1991 season. Dude scored 19 receiving TD’s, 2 rushing, and returned a kick and a punt to the house. But even back in 1991 it didn’t equate to NFL success, much like today. I’m not really taking a shot at Desmond, but more the trophy in general. Howard earned the award and was eventually a Super Bowl MVP for the Packers.
Since 2000, the Heisman has been a pro bust outside of Carson Palmer and the too young to really know careers of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Charles Woodson, another Wolverine, has had one of the best Heisman pro careers and his win is often under scrutiny as well. Eddie George and Ricky Williams had solid pro careers, but the best pro Heisman winners were pre-1990. Barry Sanders, Tim Brown, Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker, Marcus Allen, and Earl Campbell to name a few.
Of course this is a literal one. Touchdown Jesus wasn’t really a ref and the Notre Dame stadium is kind of like grandma’s house- the fans are all asleep by 5 and it’s sort of crusty and moldy. I watched a game there, it is cool to finally go and see the venue, but that stadium is on par with the old Orange Bowl.
#17 Spurrier’s Visor
Steven Orr Spurrier aka The Ol’ Ball Coach. Spurrier was notorious for his visor, the Fun & Gun offense with multiple QB’s and elite WR’s like Jack Jackson, Reidel Anthony, Ike Hilliard, Jacquez Green, hell- even Chris Doering, and his quick wit. SOS talked his way into the Sugar Bowl in 1997 to win the 1996 national title in a re-match vs FSU.
Steve would use power backs like Errict Rhett and Fred Taylor in a very Dennis Erickson way to off-set the finesse passing game.
“I know why Peyton came back for his senior year: he wanted to be a three-time Citrus Bowl MVP”
Manning finished 0-4 against Steve and 0-3 against Heisman winning NFL never-was Danny Wuerffel.
You can’t spell Citrus without UT”
While the Gators were in major bowl games, including winning a national title, the Vols were in the Citrus Bowl again and again thanks to SOS and his psy-ops against Phil Fulmer’s Vols. Fulmer did however win a national title in 1998 with Tee Martin as QB, giving Phil as many rings as Stevie.
#18 Erickson 1-Back
Cutting edge and controversial, in a time when America was running the triple option or a “pro style attack” ie. 21 personnel and banging a fullback into a brick wall (USC, Penn State), Erickson was using 11 personnel, zone blocking, quick WR screen passes, a wrinkle of run&shoot and some counter-trey pulling to win 2 national titles and play for 2 others in a 6 year period. When Jimmy Johnson left Miami for the NFL, Erickson came in and saw that while the defense was good to go, he wanted to run his 1-back offense. Miami’s offense looked more Houston Oilers than the Dallas Cowboys JJ had left Miami for and scored big points against highly ranked teams like Notre Dame and Houston, but could get down and dirty with FSU and Nebraska.
He began recruiting big bruisers at RB like Stephen McGuire, Larry Jones (Washington and Orange Bowl MVP), Donnell Bennett (KC Chiefs) and James Stewart (Minnesota Vikings) sprinkled in with quicker backs like Danyell Ferguson who ran for 1,000 yards under Butch Davis. Early on, the announcers were even confused calling Kevin Williams a “tailback” but eventually referring to them as “slot” receivers. Coach E never shied away from using TE’s like Rob Chudzinsky or Coleman Bell.
What killed the 1-back? Other programs switching to his speed first defensive approach and people selling out to blitz his QB’s who were back pedaling in their drop instead of a typical long, cross, quick drop step on 3-step drops. If you blitz someone that doesn’t keep anyone in the back field to protect it’s easy to come away with interceptions and sacks- just ask Syracuse and Bama in 1992. That’s how they slowed down the Miami offense.
#19 Bobby Bowden and Charlie Ward
If Deion was supposed to be a Hurricane Charlie Ward was supposed to be born ten years later. Ward was a talent far before his time and Bobby Bowden didn’t just accept it he embraced it. Mark Richt and Saint Bobby adjusted the offense into a more shotgun approach, allowed Ward to use his athleticism to extend and make plays, and got out of the way like all good coaches do.
Ward, also a guard on the basketball team, chose the NY Knicks over the NFL but he won the Heisman and a national title while the FSU starting QB. Although he only started for two seasons, Ward threw for over 5700 yards plus 49 TD’s while rushing for 800+ yards and 10 TD’s. Dude also punted his freshman year for 37 yards a punt. He was Randall Cunningham but allowed to really shine under the bright lights in Tally.
It takes a great coach to change his ways at Bobby’s age and he adapted his defense to the Miami speed approach and his offense to fit Charlie. Even as a #Canes fan I loved watching Warrick Dunn, William Floyd and Charlie Ward do their thing, unless it was against the #Canes.
#20 packaged plays aka RPO’s
RPO’s are changing the game of college football, even if Kirk Herbstreit calls them RPI’s and 90% of the announce teams (and our Coaches Corner down at the local water hole where I coach) has no idea what’s going on. It’s packaging your 3-step quick game with a run play. It’s pretty simple in philosophy but sophisticated in practice.
Chris B Brown of Smart Football has written about them a ton:
So have I:
Guys have been running them for a long time. I had to scout QB for a game against a split-back veer team that if you left the slot uncovered they threw a 1-step slant (ala the old Run&Shoot teams) even though a pass was called.
If they’re going to stack the box with 8 men, throw, if it’s 7 men it’s about leverage, if it’s 5-6 men RUN THE BALL. I even wrote about this for SOTU.
Why is it important? While it’s nothing new (Rich Rod was using them at Michigan even) they blew up because everyone, even the NFL, was doing it. They’re important like Erickson’s 1-back, the Fun&Gun, the Wishbone, the Flexbone, and even the forward pass.
I found this RPO in the Colorado vs Miami game from 1993: