If you look at the history of college football, the old adage that it takes a good running game and a strong defense seems to matter more than any other adage out there. When you look at the dominance of the SEC over the past few years, the teams in the Southeastern Conference have basically held true to that principle and they are the standard bearers for excellence in college football for nearly a decade.
College football and even the NFL games have evolved. We see a ton of shotgun formations and razzle dazzle that are fun to watch, but is it really productive and can it produce a championship?
If you think about college football, when was the last time a team that just threw the ball all over the field actually won a championship? It's pretty hard to find one because the last five or six years have been dominated by strong running games and defenses to compliment them.
In all honesty, since Oklahoma won a National Championship in 2000 there hasn't been a pass first-team that has won a national title. Even the Florida teams that won it for the SEC with Tim Tebow were run-first teams. Take a look at the four reasons that running teams will continue to dominate college football.
1. When you track it back year by year, you will not find any teams winning that are doing what Oregon and Oklahoma are doing. Everyone keeps asking why they can't get over the hump. The answer is simple: It takes a strong running game and a strong defense to win a national championship. When we are talking great defense ... we are talking about physical, strong and extremely fast.
2. Defense is the key to success, but even sometimes the defense doesn't have to be that strong if your running game is solid enough to limit the snaps of the other team. If you don't believe me, ask the Auburn Tigers and Cam Newton. However, if you are going to air it out, you better have a defense like Oklahoma did when the Sooners won the title in 2000.
3. Keeping your offense simple leads to better results. Teams that spread it out are too gimmicky. The throwing offenses depend heavily on a system that if one person is having a bad day, it can ruin the flow of everyone. Look at Alabama. It's safe to say that over the past few years the Tide has been the most consistent program in the country. Alabama isn't fooling you. They line up in the I-formation, and they are going to run the ball and throw some play action. They are going to control the game with their defense and their running game. It doesn't matter if they have the best receiver on the planet, which they have had in Julio Jones, they aren't going to deviate from the recipe.
4. Run first is a must if you want to be successful and consistent. Even those USC teams that made runs at a national title were run-first. The year the Trojans lost to Texas and Vince Young, they tried to get to cute and threw the ball too much. It was like they were trying to prove something, and it cost them the game as Vince Young and crew ran wild on them to win that game.
Coaching is an art, and everyone has a philosophy. What I have noticed is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even when I look at the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers have the most potent and consistent offense in the league. They are out there running a Don Shula motivated offense from the 1970's.
It's fun to watch teams do things that are exciting and unique. I have seen it all now as teams have gone with no quarterback on the field to having two quarterbacks in the backfield together. I've seen teams play with three tight ends and two backs, and I have also seen teams go five wide with no backs. The moral of the story is that football in all its complexity is a simple game. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes is usually the winner. The way to make the least amount of mistakes is to keep things simple.
There is a life lesson in that statement somewhere, and hopefully we can all follow and take it for what it is worth.
Until later ... Stay Breezy ~ I'm Out!
Color Commentator for Time Warner Cable Sports Network NC/SC/OH and NCCU Sports Network. Washed up athlete who used to ball, now I write and call.