Bret Bielema “got his ass kicked twice in a row” according to Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury apparently took umbrage with some comments that were attributed to Bielema in the off season. Bielema reportedly stated that “if you don’t throw to the fullback, we’ll kick your ass”, and “if you throw 70 times a game, we’ll kick your ass”. Kingsbury took the comments personally, apparently.
The specifics of Bielema’s comments may not be commonly held beliefs, but the idea that there is a right way and a wrong way is very common among coaches. Some, like Bielema, will state on the record that if you do X or if you don’t do X, you’re going to lose.
College football is great for many reasons. One of the reasons is the variety of offensive schemes and defenses that are on display. There are hundreds of coaches and coordinators who all believe that their system is the right system, which is good. They should believe that. They shouldn’t be running a system they don’t think gives them the best chance to win. But they shouldn’t discount other ways of doing things.
There are certain immutable facts about football, where if you don’t do X you can’t win, but the list of musts is much shorter than some coaches imply. You must tackle; if you fail to do that, you will almost always lose. You must be able to score; you need to be good fundamentally. The list of musts includes basics; it doesn’t include which formation you must run or which player must get the ball.
On the surface Bielema’s comments seem to be overreaching or false. You can win without throwing to the fullback. In fact, you can run an entirely successful offense without a fullback at all. Teams have won throwing 70 times. The specifics of his comments are inaccurate, but the theme is right.
If Bielema’s comments are more specific or a bit more nuanced, they seem to be more accurate. Perhaps instead of saying that you must throw to the fullback, he should of said, if the defense doesn’t have to account for all eligible receivers, your offense is going to be at a disadvantage. Instead of saying you can’t pass 70 times, he should have said being a one dimensional offense will put you at a disadvantage.
He should have been more precise in his comments. Had he been, he wouldn’t have been bulletin board material for an opponent, and he wouldn’t have to spend press conferences answering questions about comments from an off season clinic. Most importantly he would have been right.