Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What the hell is a "Stanford situation?"

Warning: Post contains football.

When ex-BSU coach Houston Nutt was acclaimed as the "inventor" of the Wildcat formation, those of us who are total nerds thought, "Wait a minute, isn't this just the single wing?"

The single wing was the dominant football offense well into the 1960s, and like the Wildcat, it featured an unbalanced line, long snaps, and an emphasis on running. (Note that single wing formations are different than shotgun: shotgun snaps are high, with the center looking ahead, whereas single wing snaps are line drives, with the center looking beneath his legs.)

You can watch Michigan use the single wing (along with some line shifts that are utterly illegal today) to demolish USC in the 1948 Rose Bowl here.

Fortuitously, you can read Michigan's playbook for this game right here. You can get another exposition of how the offense works from Iowa State's 1968 playbook, devised by future Pittsburgh and Tennessee coach Johnny Majors. The Majors playbook also contains an interesting strategy section, so you'll always know what to do when the defense lines up in a Stanford situation and when to call a first down punt.

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