Friday, January 27, 2012

Scott Loeffler and Creeping Sabanization

I posted a long-ish article yesterday morning about Scott Loeffler's hire at Auburn and what that shows in terms of the direction of the SEC.  Because I goofed in terms of categorizing the post, it only showed up on the sidebar of the page, so you would have to do some hunting to find it ... or you could just click on this link.  Here is the conclusion:

Auburn's transition from the run-based spread to a pro-style attack* brings up a somewhat disturbing trend in the SEC: Creeping Sabanization. When Saban joined the conference, the mix of offenses was fairly diverse. Florida was running the spread. LSU was running something with spread elements. Arkansas was relying healvily on the Wildcat. Within two years, Auburn and Mississippi state were also running the spread. Two national titles for Saban later, everyone is trying to copy him, but not necessarily in good ways. Florida is running a pro-style offense under a Saban disciple. Ditto for Tennessee. LSU is attempting a modern-day imitation of the Bo Schembechler offense. Now, Auburn is eschewing the offense that was a significant factor in the Tigers winning their first national title in 53 years.** Mississippi State is left as the only run-based spread team in the league (and no one is running the Air Raid that played a role in Clemson, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State all making BCS bowls). Chris Brown asks whether the age of the spread is in decline. The answer is clearly "yes" in the SEC.
One point that I meant to make in the column is that the trend away from the spread is not a good development for Georgia in one respect.  When Florida was at its full pomp under Urban Meyer, one argument that Georgia fans made was that the Dawgs would have a recruiting advantage in a spread-crazy conference because Georgia would be somewhat unique and could tout its superior preparation for the NFL.  Matt Stafford going at the top of the Draft provided evidence for this point.  That advantage goes away now that Florida, Auburn, and (to a lesser extent because they were never really a spread team) LSU are all running pro-style offenses.  Style-wise, Georgia is just another team in the SEC.  Yes, they can tout where Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and AJ Green were drafted, but Auburn can cite to Scot Loeffler's record sending quarterbacks to the NFL. 

On the other hand, if you view the run-based spread as a slightly better way to skin a cat, then Georgia benefits from conference rivals adopting a sub-optimal offensive approach.  After the 2008 and 2009 Florida games and the 2010 Auburn game, Dawg fans will not be sad to see the return of stationary quarterbacks on the offenses of their two biggest conference rivals.

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