Football often gets a not-entirely-undeserved reputation as a sport for meatheads. This makes a lot of sense when you listen to players in interviews parrot mindless crap like, “Coach says our football team needs to play physical football if we’re gonna win this football game.”
Baseball, meanwhile, gets a not-entirely-deserved reputation as a thinking man’s sport. This makes a lot of sense if you think it requires great mental dexterity to spit into a Gatorade cup without splattering any dip on your shoes.
Fact is, football often has it all over baseball in terms of intellectual rigor — like when it comes to being open to new ideas. Consider that there’s a segment of baseball people who are ready to burn you at the stake if you tell them that RBIs or pitcher wins are bad stats to use to evaluate players.
Football has no such aversions. Coaches are constantly brainstorming and coming up with new ideas to give their team an edge. And the good ones aren’t afraid to actually try these ideas.
Hey, what if we threw the ball downfield instead of running it into the line three times?
Hey, what if we played with four wide receivers?
Hey, what if we ran our two-minute drill all the time.
Hey what if we taped the other team’s walkthrough?
Hey, what if I used five defensive backs in my base defense.
Considering Rocky Long is one of the innovators of that last one, perhaps we shouldn’t be terribly surprised that he’s tinkering with a new scheme.
After reading articles about an idiosyncratic Arkansas high school coach who never punts, always onside kicks, and has tremendous success doing it, Long is toying with the idea for his Aztecs of no punts or field goal attempts once they’ve driven inside an opponent’s 50-yard line.
I have no idea how serious Rocky is about this. Might this be some bullshit bluff he’s trying to publicize just to get inside the heads of his first opponent? You bet. Might this be an indictment of the state of SDSU punting in the post Brian Stahovich era? For sure.
But there’s also a chance that Rocky thinks he’s getting in on the ground floor of a new strategic revolution that will soon spread across the entire sport. I honestly hope that’s the case, because a trial-by-fire would be pretty fun to watch. No matter how this plays out, I like that SDSU has a coach who’s willing to test it out. To innovate, rather than blindly follow conventional wisdom.
Well, unless it doesn’t work the first time or two he tries it. Then I’ll delete this post from my archives and write a new one calling Rocky a foolish, reckless maniac. So either way, I win!