Chuck Landon: Business as usual for the football coaches
As usual, college football coaches are missing the point.
Not the PAT, either.
Lost amidst this convoluted controversy involving potential legislation against hurry-up offenses are a few very relevant issues.
For starters, has anyone noticed which coaches have ranted, raved and reacted the most?
It has been Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Washington State’s Mike Leach and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze.
When the news broke about the possibility of not allowing offenses to snap the ball until 10 seconds had elapsed on the play clock, those three coaches leaped on the soap box.
And what else do they have in common?
None of the three were particularly successful last season.
Rodriguez’ team was 8-5 and finished fourth in the South Division of the PAC-12, Leach’s was 6-7 and tied for fourth in the PAC-12’s North Division and Freeze’s Rebels were 8-5 and finished sixth in the SEC West Division.
Now, let me get this right.
None of them even contended for a conference championship, yet they are losing their minds over the mere mention of anyone messing with their precious offenses?
Maybe, just maybe, Rodriguez, Leach and Freeze might want to spend a little of that energy on their defenses.
You know, like Nick Saban does?
Maybe then their schools would at least be contenders.
But I doubt it.
In 12 years, the only time Rodriguez won a conference championship out-right was in 2005 at WVU in the now-defunct Big East all-sports conference. Even then, he blew a chance at a national championship game appearance by getting — ready for this? — too conservative in a loss to Pitt.
As for Leach, the closest he ever got in 12 years was a tie in 2008 with Texas Tech in the Big 12.
Then, there’s the new guy — Freeze. His Arkansas State team won the Sun Belt in 2011. But since moving up with the big boys, he has produced a pair of sixth-place finishes in the SEC.
Notice the common thread?
It’s not about how fast a team can play. It’s not about how many plays a team can run. It’s not about how many gaudy offensive statistics a team piles up.
Instead, it’s about winning.
Perhaps, the winning would start and the whining would stop if these coaches started putting more emphasis on defense.
Just ask Marshall’s Doc Holliday.
In 2012, the Herd led the nation with a mind-boggling average of 90.5 plays per game. That led to lots of sensational offensive statistics.
But guess what it didn’t produce?
Despite putting the hurry in up-tempo offenses, Marshall had a losing season at 5-7.
Now, look what happened in 2013. Holliday hired new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, put more emphasis on that side of the ball and slowed the offense to 78.0 plays per game.
The result was a 10-4 record.
That’s one of the points the frenzied hurry-up coaches are missing. The other is safety concerns. Anytime that subject is broached such coaches as Freeze and Rodriguez ask where the medical evidence is.
And that’s when I ask: Where’s your common sense?
The more plays, the more blocking and tackling. The more blocking and tackling, the more collisions. The more collisions, the more injuries.
It’s an indisputable progression.
When will Rodriguez, Leach and Freeze admit that?
They’re in too big a hurry.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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