In case you've actually been doing work in your cube and missed it, today is Spread Day on ESPN. The network army of conference bloggers coordinated interviews with offensive and defensive coordinators in the business of running or defending CFB's sexiest formation.
Notice I said formation. One of the nice things the series does is clear up a few misconceptions -- like, for one, the idea that the spread is a passing scheme. (As Virginia coach Al Groh points out, Missouri finished fourth in the nation in passing, while Oregon finished fourth in the nation in running in 2008. Both ran the spread).
But the thing I found interesting is somewhat unrelated to the grand inquisition. ESPN's Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller observed that "[o]ne of the reasons Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes is about to become a hot head-coaching candidate is that he's not a system guy. He's a personnel guy. He figures out what he has. Then he figures out how to use them."
This got me thinking: is your head coach a maverick or a chameleon?
Here's how I'd break down the Big Ten:
Joe Paterno (Chameleon): From two back to two-thousand and nine's advent of the Spread HD, Paterno has consistently given his coordinators the freedom to shake it up. Has it worked? You bet. Since turning 79, Joe Pa's .791 winning percentage bests his career metrics.
Jim Tressel (Hybrid): From I-Form (2002-2004), to 5-wide (2006), and back (2007-2008) Mr. Sweater Vest wore more heart on his sleeve than he let on. But he's still Jimmy T: 1st down dive, 2nd down dive, 3rd down off-tackle. Punt. Play for field position.
Rich Rodriguez (Maverick): At WVU Rich Rod transformed the fun-and-gun to fun-and-run. In a formation previously used to pass, Rich spread things out, just to make it easier to run it down your throat. Yet, when inheriting a Wolverine squad prone to two-wide sets, Rich refused to compromise. Hence, 2008.
Danny Hope (Hybrid): Hope did things his way at Eastern Kentucky, but, after apprenticing under Joe T for a year, expect to see him incorporate a few classic Tiller tricks.
Bill Lynch (Chameleon): Before Kellen Lewis got kicked off the team, he was part of a mass re-distribution scheme designed to better line talent up on both sides of the ball.
Ron Zook (Maverick): Zook could get so much more out of his talent, if he were more willing to diversify his repertoire.
Mark Dantonio (Maverick): Stack the box, move the line. Scowl when things don't go according to plan.
Tim Brewster (Maverick): NFL guys are system guys. Brewster is no different.
Bret Bielema (Maverick): Even Ohio State has opened things up. Wisconsin respectfully declines.
Kirk Ferentz (Chameleon): From Brad Banks to Shonn Greene Ferentz knows when to open up and when to buckle down.