Friday, December 07, 2007

The Heisman and System QBs

There has been a lot of talk about "system" QBs. People point out Andre Ware or Texas Tech as examples of how systems can lead to inflated numbers. Sure they can. But the real issue is level of competition, not systems. That's why Texas Tech puts up big offensive numbers. That's why Hawaii does, too. A low level of competition will always cast extra scrutiny on star players.

Nobody complained about Tommie Frazier winning the Heisman. Clearly he was in a "system" albeit one where he ran the ball much more than he threw. It didn't matter. Nebraska played and beat the best out there. It takes a great player to perform at such a high level against tough competition.

June Jones and others have also made a point about the NFL potential of players being a factor in Heisman voting. That is just ridiculous. If NFL talent was relevant at all, then Peyton Manning should have won three Heismans. There has never been a more sure-fire future Pro Bowl quarterback coming out of college, but he did not win the Heisman and for good reason.

There have been many Heisman winners to have no little or no NFL success, particularly quarterbacks: Ware, Frazier, Charlie Ward, Danny Wuerffel, Jason White just to name a few. There is nothing wrong with this. It's part of the beauty of college athletics that it's not just the most physically gifted individuals who have the most success.

So sorry June Jones. Maybe your boy will be good in the NFL, who knows? Nobody runs your "pro" offense there, so I don't know how much his experience in Hawaii will help. Whatever the case, Hawaii has not played against formidable competition at all. You can't claim to be the best without playing against at other good teams. That is why Hawaii's undefeated season will not get them a shot at a national title game, and that's why Colt Brennan could throw 100 TDs and not win the Heisman.

As a side note, there was one thing that made me really happy when I read about June Jones's disparaging comments about Tim Tebow. I learned that Hawaii opens its season next year at The Swamp. Talk about sweet justice! Hawaii is going to torn up by Georgia in a few weeks, so that will demonstrate how meaningless their perfect season is... But it will be even more demonstrated next August. And before anyone brings up Boise State from last  year, try to actually remember that game. They had every break in the world, and still had to gamble on a trick play to be able to win that game. If that game was played nine more times, how many times do you think Boise State would win? Let's be honest here, maybe once?


Mr. Z. said...

Just thought I'd leave my comments for you:
Fiesta Bowl - If you watched that game, BSU was DOMINATING Oklahoma most of the game. OU got a few turnovers in the 2nd half to catch up. Then, got a huge pick 6 in the closing minutes. THe so called trick play was a perfectly executed play...actually all 3 of them were.

Next, Who run's the spread in the NFL? It might not be called the run-n-shoot in the NFL, but 16 teams (50%) currently use some version of it as their base set or at least 40% of the time. The best example, The Patriots.

Who did the TxTech/HI litle guys beat? If that's the case the Heisman should just say that the award goes to the best player in the BCS confrences. The smaller schools hardly ever play BIG SCHOOLs because it is hard to schedule. Particularly up and coming schools like Hawaii because a loss to such a bad game (even in a win) to small school would be looked at very badly.

As for Hawaii playing UF to open 08, if scheduling was a piece of cake, why is UF afraid to play Hawaii in Hawaii? UH is flying there, but UF won't return the favor with a home-at-home. Coach Myer came out recently and said he would never go there! Yout thoughts on any of this?

Unknown said...

Oh where to start :-)

The run-n-shoot was discredited in the NFL. If you think that any team is running it, then you don't understand that offense very well. You brought up New England, so let's take them as an example.

New England's passing game is a short passing/possession game. The run-n-shoot is much more of a vertical passing game. New England uses many formations with either two TEs or two RBs. There are no such formations in the run-n-shoot. Brady takes snaps out of the shotgun, but also goes under center quite a bit. The run-n-shoot is exclusively out of the shotgun.

These may seem like subtle differences to you, but they are not. What New England runs is more similar to the fun-n-gun offense made famous by Steve Spurrier at Florida in the 90's than it is to the run-n-shoot. You might notice that Bellichick has been fond of former Florida wide receivers.

So just because a team uses a shotgun formation does not mean that they are using the run-n-shoot. The run-n-shoot is an offense, not a formation. And it's an offense that failed in the NFL, but has been a huge success in the WAC.

Now I will not claim the spread will work in the NFL, but nobody has claimed that. It's only been June Jones who has tried to foolishly claim that his team is running an "pro offense" when they clearly are not.

You are right that the Heisman could be renamed "best player in the BCS conferences." It is a subjective award, and people tend to pick the best players from the best schools. The BCS schools are viewed as the best. How many players on Hawaii would have gone to a BCS school if they would have had the chance? All of that being said, Ty Detmer did win the Heisman...

Look, the BCS school bias for the Heisman is only one of many biases. There is a huge bias towards quarterbacks first, and running backs second. Wide receivers are a distant third, and then there's everybody else. There is also a huge bias towards schools with better records. Tim Tebow could have scored 100 TDs this year, but if Florida had lost six games there is no way he would have won.

Finally, I do wish Florida would go out to Hawaii and play there in 2009. However, I understand why they won't do it. It's all about risk and reward. Hawaii is a tough place to play just because of the travel required, so there's high risk. There is little reward for a top ranked school. Florida will play several top 20 teams every year because of their conference, so beating one more does little for them. Lots of risk, little reward.

For Hawaii, the equation is much different. If they would have opened 2007 at Gainesville and knocked off Florida, they would be ranked #1 right now and would be playing Ohio State in the BCS title game and Colt Brennan would have won the Heisman. So they have huge risk in traveling all the way to Florida, but there is also huge reward. That's why they will take the "bad deal" and play there in 2008 without Florida returning the favor in 2009.

Unknown said...

I have to agree about the Boise St. game last year. For 3 quarters they taught the Big 12 a lesson in defense, ball control and execution.
I am bothered by how many people mix up the terms, "West Coast", "Spread" and "run-n-shoot". All three pass a lot and get big numbers against weaker opponents. However, the West Coast offense is a short passing, ball control offense utilizing tight ends and running backs in that passing game more then most offenses. Examples were the 80s and 90s 49s and BYU. The Run-n-Shoot was almost exclusively a passing game which began NOT in the shot gun. In fact, it utilized 2 wing backs. And then there was the "Spread". Now you can talk about shot gun. However, most try to spread the field and run through less guys defending in the box. Hawaii happens to spread the field, use the shot gun, and almost exclusively pass. You could call Hawaii a hybrid of the run-n-shoot and the spread. It is not exclusively one or the other and it is Not the West Coast offensee. I wish people would learn the difference and learn their football!


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