Chip Kelley of Oregon. See the excellent Sunday, December 5 New York Times feature on him, “Speed-Freak Football” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/magazine/05Football-t.html) and the ways he may be changing the game.
Reading that article reminded me of someone’s (Gen. Patraeus?) shorthand history of the Four Stages of the “progression” of warfare over the several millenia, and how they apply to the game of football:
Stage One: the old Line and Column, going back thousands of years, and ended, I think, with the Napoleonic Wars.
Stage Two: the use of Machine Gun and Artillery which hit its’ peak in WWI (though tanks came into the picture at the end of that war.)
Stage Three: Aircraft and Tanks, which were WWII; and
Stage Four: Wide-open use of speed, mobility, diffusion, digital intelligence and penetration of enemy territory and hearts and minds. (I think Drone usage is included by some in this formulation.) This stage began in small measure in Vietnam, and has become predominant in Afghanistan.
Much of football (having had, in the late 1800’s less regimented, wide-open rugby or other roots) had become, by the 1960’s and 70’s, stuck in a Stage I “Line and Column” method of combat, in which both sides implicitly agreed to rigidly control the pace of play to allow planning (and substitution) on a highly structured basis on both sides of the ball. The “Spread” helped move away from that structure.
What Kelly’s Oregon offense does is move the collegiate game closer to something akin to a Stage IV of combat – by maximizing the use of aggressive “time” domination — by running plays as fast as possible, and emphasizing the need to give the defense zero time to prepare and substitute. When a receiver in Kelly’s offense catches a pass, he is instructed to run the ball to the official, to allow Oregon to run the next play as soon as possible. Practices are just 1 hour and 50 minutes, and are devoid of “play-stoppages” for “learning opportunities” administered by a coach who sees a defect in execution. The practice is a full-time sprint; corrections are given at short team meetings held after dinner.
Kelly’s approach is novel, successful, and refreshing. If it were implemented at Michigan, it would represent a very logical, partially “seamless” transition or progression from Rich Rod’s “hurry-up” offense — thereby minimizing the disruption of personnel and learning curves. Small, fast players function well in the system; behemoth lineman (at least on offense) don’t.
Hiring Kelly might be a gamble of sorts, but it doesn’t look like it. It looks more like getting a coach who is at the forefront of changing the game in positive and, apparently, winning ways.