First of all, the argument that you 'impaled' was not mine, but College Football Resource's.
Sorry. Got my "Boise State is going to beat Georgia and it won't be close" authors mixed up. My bad.
Second, I think you have a real misunderstanding of what my whole 'Gang of Six' argument was about. It was basically that these six teams--each of them at different strata in the college football universe--were better than they would be otherwise thanks to their offensive systems, each of which are/were revolutionary in their own way. Unfortunately, people took it to mean that I was saying these teams were unbeatable or something. That's not what I was saying at all. I was merely pointing out that if it weren't for their system--if they ran a simple SEC-style offense, for instance--Boise would never have even been in the conversation at the beginning of the year as to whether they could beat Georgia. They would not have been ranked. Thanks to their system, they WERE ranked and only a six point underdog. They certainly weren't a six point dog because people thought they had legitimate talent. The system made their lack of talent better. That is the point of the Gang of Six. It was that those teams were better than they would be otherwise.
The basic point that certain teams run better offensive systems than others is incontestable, but the flaw in HP's reasoning, as well as in the Gang of Six model in general, is that it has no value. If the teams in the Gang of Six really run better offensive schemes than the rest of college football, then why is their success somewhat variable? Let's look at last year's Gang of Five and how they performed this year:
USC - Possibly the best offense since the 1945 Army team, despite losing their offensive coordinator. (His loss, if scheme was more important than talent, should have caused USC some heartburn.) As one personnel director said, their scheme has little to do with their success.
Boise State - Got shut down by Georgia and Fresno State, despite returning most of their offense. Apparently, their scheme can be defended after all, including by a Fresno team that does not have a good defense and does not have much more talent than Boise State.
Louisville - Productively offensively (as one would expect when they replaced their quarterback and running back with blue chippers Bush and Brohm,) but as West Virginia and South Florida showed, not unstoppable.
Florida - Ah, the real piece of evidence against the Gang of Six. A scheme that ripped the Mountain West to shreds was thoroughly ineffective in the SEC, finishing 62nd in the country in total offense (despite returning every significant starter other than Ciatrick Fason) and reducing the head coach to tears in Baton Rouge. Apparently, SEC defenses aren't good solely because they play against simple offenses.
Cal - 31st in total offense, aided in part by a ridiculously easy out-of-conference schedule (although, in their defense, they probably didn't know that Illinois was going to commit seppuku by hiring Ron Zook.) Interestingly, every team in the low-tech Big Ten met or exceeded the 35 points that Cal put up on the Illini.
Anyone can pick out the top offenses in the country and then claim that they're more sophisticated, but what value does that designation have if those offenses often fail to repeat their success the following year? And this would be even more evident if we went back and looked at programs that would have been labeled as "Gang of Five" in past years. Joe Tiller, anyone? How about the Tennessee offenses of the Peyton Manning era, which met all of the criteria for membership other than underuse of backs and tight ends? Or Ralph Friedgen's Maryland/Georgia Tech offenses, which met all of the criteria?
Look at Gang of Six member Notre Dame as a perfect example. In 2004's system, they were shit. In 2005 with a new system, they are very good. What is the common denominator?
A crappy prior regime? HP will get no disagreement from these quarters that Charlie Weis has worked wonders with the Notre Dame offense, but let's also acknowledge two points:
1. Notre Dame's prior offensive regime was complete crap.
2. Notre Dame's offense is replete with blue chip high school talent. Just about every starter on the offense was a four- or five-star recruit in high school. Moreover, the offense was almost exclusively comprised of juniors and seniors. Thus, Weis was stepping into a perfect situation to turn the offense around.
But if we want to quibble, Notre Dame probably fails on the "run when the other team knows you're running" part of the test, as the Irish were an underwhelming 49th in the country in rush offense and averaged only 3.68 yards per carry.
As for USC, to say they don't do anything revolutionary is silly. I can care less what a single scout says. There were scouts in the Sporting News that said that USC had no chance to beat Oklahoma last year, that Leinart was overrated, etc. I know several scouts personally and most of them don't know shit. So, just because you can quote a scout who says otherwise does not prove anything. The fact that a ton of teams around the country are trying to use their backs in the same manner as Bush is used at USC is proof alone that the Trojan offense has been influential.
Note that the quote was not from a scout, but rather from a "personnel man," which is a step up from your average rank-and-file scout. There's also a big difference between making observations about USC's offensive system, which is exactly the kind of thing that a scout or personnel man can do well, and then making predictions, which are difficult for anyone, especially for a game like the Orange Bowl between teams with divergent styles and no common opponents. And the fact that USC is copied doesn't mean that the sophistication of their offense is the primary reason for their success, rather than their overwhelming talent.
If you think that USC is just out-talenting people to win 34 in a row, then you have your head in the sand. USC has a lot of talent, but so do Texas, LSU, Tennessee, etc. It is USC's system, combined with that talent, that has made them untouchable. To ignore that is just ignoring reality.
Did I not say that coaching, especially on the defensive side of the ball, was a major reason for USC's success? Did I not mention Paul Hackett? Reading comprehension, my man. My point is simply that USC's offensive scheme isn't THAT revolutionary and that the "Gang of Six" concept is mostly useless as a predictive tool.
So, once again to recap: The Gang of Six theory does not ignore defense or other factors in football. It merely picked out six teams that had separated themselves in offensive sophistication, with the result being a rise in their program's success. USC is an elite school, but was struggling until the system arrived. Cal was shit for years and suddenly got good. Now, it is to the point where they can lose a first round pick at QB and have a bad replacement, but the system still enables them to go 7-4 (coulda easily went 9-2, but lost a couple last minute games). As disappointing as Louisville has been, they replaced Shelton and the nation's pass efficiency leader and went 9-2. Think it was because of talent or that system that kept them together? Boise went 8-3, but they have serious talent problems. If they ran a straight I formation, they are a 5-6 team, easy.
I can agree with most of that, although I also point out that Michael Bush and Brian Brohm were significant talent upgrades over their predecessors, so L'ville didn't exactly have to overcome Herculean odds to have a good offense this year.
Again, if you have impaled any theory, it wasn't mine.
It's hard to say what I'm impaling these days.
One other thing: If just having better players than everyone else means you win every game, then why isn't LSU undefeated right now? Why does any less talented team beat more talented teams? It happens all the time. Like I said, not all scouts are phi beta kappa.
See above, Reading Comp Scholar. I'm not denying that coaching has a major effect, but HP still overstates the complexity of USC (and others') offense relative to the rest of the country.