The Whole Battle: A Reply to College Football Resource

It appears that a clarification is in order. College Football Resource offered some observations regarding a purported offensive paradigm shift in the Southeastern Conference which is at least partly fueled by the importation of Pac-10 offensive coordinators into the S.E.C.

I have found fault with CFR upon similar points before, criticizing his criticisms of the Southeastern Conference and debunking his claims regarding the so-called "Gang of Six," so it came as no surprise that I offered a retort to his latest offering upon the subject, as well.

CFR, who is personally gracious even when his arguments are erroneous, provided a brief reply, which I reproduce in its entirety:

Kyle,

You badly misinterpret what I write here. Even IF the Pac-10 thing is inaccurate, even if Malzahn had his offense canned etc etc. etc.., the TREND still exists which is my argument.

An offensive change is happening in the conference. At bare minimum part of the genesis for this was the hiring of Al Borges, a former Pac-10 OC.

Remember my note was written in early 2005, forseeing not strictly Pac-10 movement (although it was mentioned and we see Borges leading to Crowton), but offensive movement in general. The conference is importing offensive coaching talent.

Finally, I take offense to your 'offensive chic' label. Chic would imply I somehow flitter in the wind wherever it takes me which if people have been reading here long enough know that to be far from the case. I have a mind of my own and have demonstrated that consistently on here.

I'm not angry or anything like that but I do find the characterization uncharacteristically juvenile for someone of your esteem. Glad to share both agreements and disagreements on here like you noted with Blutarsky and others. Blutarsky and I probably disagree on everything except the playoff thing but I'm happy to welcome his commentary any time, same with you.


To be fair, CFR did state that what interested him was the trend rather than the particular details. (In my defense, however, I quoted a lengthy and, I believe, representative excerpt from his original posting, including the line about the trend being the thing.) As a strict constructionist interested in authorial intent, I will accept in good faith a writer's statement of what he meant by what he wrote and, if I misinterpreted CFR's previous piece, I apologize.

I coined the term "Offensive Chic," drawing my inspiration from Tom Wolfe's Radical Chic, in which he took to task the wealthy liberal intellectuals of the late 1960s who took a shine to militant activist groups. In using that phrase (which I believe to be apt), I do not mean to accuse CFR and his fellow adherents of the Gang of Six theory of flitting about like flappers in the 1920s, but of latching onto (and refusing to let go of) a novel idea that is, at best, unproven . . . and that I believe has been disproven. (I would note that, after Georgia's season-opening smackdown of Boise State in 2005, CFR admitted that he had been wrong.)

The first college football game was played in 1869. The Gang of Six theory was conceived (or, at least, popularized) in 2005. I believe it is fair to characterize a two-year-old theory with a dubious track record of accuracy as "chic" in the context of a 138-year-old game. The Gang of Six idea purports to be cutting-edge and boasts a certain sex appeal, but it is not yet confirmed by experience. Surely it is not unfair to brand a fixation with newfangled trends as being trendy.

As for the specifics of this supposed shift, we cannot simply leap from hope to certitude without first plowing through the facts. As Don Meredith used to say, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas." If the deck is being reshuffled, we cannot know it without counting the cards.

In that vein, I believe it was entirely fair for me to note that CFR's facts were cherry-picked and inconvenient truths were glossed over or ignored. The claim that the winds of change are blowing from the Pac-10 to the South is spurious, as I demonstrated (and as MaconDawg underscored by pointing out the extent to which calling an offensive coordinator a "Pac-10 coach" is as much of a stretch as calling a car "domestic"). Florida may have won a championship with a coach hired for his offensive prowess, but he won it on the strength of his defense. Auburn may continue to win the Iron Bowl, but the Plainsmen displayed little offensive acumen when being outscored 37-15 at home by a reeling Georgia team. Tennessee's decision to rehire a coach who served on the Volunteers' staff for a decade and a half hardly was a harbinger of novel thinking and Gus Malzahn's arrival in Arkansas as an innovative mastermind cannot be divorced from the fact of his departure after the Razorbacks won a division crown without running his system.

Facts do not exist in a vacuum and reliable trends (much less fundamental shifts that threaten to reorder completely the existing paradigm) cannot be teased out of discordant realities. I cited a couple of examples to show the importance of special teams. While I am pleased with the Bulldogs' recent staff changes and new recruits on the offensive side of the ball, I believe Georgia's change of defensive coordinators after the 2004 campaign has had a more significant impact.

Offense is important and changes on that side of the ball can matter a great deal. However, we would do well to remember the words of Elliot Ness from "The Untouchables": "Many things are half the battle. Losing is half the battle. Let's think about what's the whole battle."

Go 'Dawgs!

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