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It Doesn't Matter What Offense Auburn Runs

Gene Chizik has a big decision to make as to who his offensive coordinator will be.
Gene Chizik has a big decision to make as to who his offensive coordinator will be.

I have a couple of guesses as to why Chizik is having trouble with this issue.

One is that things were inconsistent with Gus Malzahn running the offense. In 2009, the offense was pretty good but not over-the-top good. In 2010, it was magnificent. In 2011, it was rank. If he goes with another wide-open attack, he might get similarly divergent results.

Another is that defensive guys typically prefer to have more traditional, pro-style offenses. The Stoops brothers are the big exceptions, but think about guys like Nick Saban, Frank Beamer, Pete Carroll, Will Muschamp, and so on. The level of conservatism varies, but that's the style they usually want. In fact, if my research is correct, Chizik's OC at Iowa State Robert McFarland ran a pro-style scheme. However, Chizik managed to win a national title with Malzahn's decidedly non-pro-style offense. He might be weighing his instincts versus what got him a 14-0 season.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what style his new coordinator runs. All that matters is that the new guy is good at it.

Let's walk through the past few national championship games. In 2011, we had a pro-style (Bama) versus a pro-style with option elements (LSU). In 2010, we had an uptempo spread option (Oregon) versus an uptempo, motion-heavy spread option (Auburn). In 2009, we had a pro-style (Bama) versus a pass-heavy spread option (Texas). In 2008, we had a power spread option (Florida) versus an uptempo pass-heavy spread (Oklahoma). In 2007, we had a pro-style (Ohio State) versus a whatever-the-heck-it-is-that-Gary-Crowton-runs (LSU).

The teams that have won the most and played on the biggest stage run almost the full spectrum of offenses. There wasn't a true Air Raid team, though '08 Oklahoma was clearly inspired by it. There wasn't a flexbone team either, though Paul Johnson did win the ACC with it in 2009 before that title was vacated.

There were some offenses that liked to go really fast, and there were some with far more deliberate attacks. There were some that spread the field and some that didn't. There were some that ran to set up the pass and some that passed to set up the run.

One of the beauties of college football, and indeed one of the reasons I like it more than the NFL, is that you can win doing just about anything you want to. What it is you do matters less than how well you do it. My stated requirement above for getting a good coordinator is even undermined to a degree with Crowton and Greg Davis (who Vince Young and Colt McCoy propped up for years) making the national championship game.

Who the offensive coordinator is going to be is an extremely important for a defensive head coach like Chizik. My free advice is to pay attention to production far more than style.