NFL

Not About the Election

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Fascinating story in the California Bay Area, where Piedmont High School football coach Kurt Bryan has exploited a loophole in the rulebook to develop an entirely new offensive scheme, which he has dubbed the "A-11."  The wide-open formation features two quarterbacks, and makes every offensive player on the field receiver-eligible (they all wear uniform numbers in the receiver-eligible range).

Because both quarterbacks stand seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, and because there's no one under center, the formation is under the rules a legal kicking formation.  But you don't have to actually kick the ball when you line up in a kicking formation (otherwise, fake kicks would be prohibited).

The offense has befuddled both defenses and referees, and has allowed tiny Piedmont to stay competitive with much larger high schools.  The genius of the offense lies in the number of options it opens up for the offense, which makes it much more difficult to defend.  From the New York Times:

According to Scientific American magazine, a standard football formation permits 36 possible scenarios for taking the snap and advancing the ball; with the A-11, the possibilities multiply to 16,632, providing a controlled randomness to the offense and potentially devastating chaos to the defense. Even the center becomes eligible to catch a pass if he is at the end of the line of scrimmage.

Detractors say the offense is gimmicky, and not real football.  Of course, detractors once said the same thing about the forward pass.  One critic calls the A-11 "deceptive and unsporting."  But misdirection and trick plays have always been part of football.  Witness the gimmickry in the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl from a couple of years ago—arguably the greatest college football game of all time.  Or the resurgence of the Wildcat formation in the NFL this year.

It's not yet even clear if the A-11 will give offenses a lasting advantage, or if coaches will eventually figure out how to defend it.  Seems a little early to talk about banning it.

But so far, ten states have done exactly that.  And more may follow next year, when the National Federation of State High School Associations may address the issue.

Here are some clips of the A-11 in action:

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  1. I’m curious about #2 in the clip: are you allowed to fumble forward for the TD in high school?

  2. My understanding was that not everyone is an eligible receiver – it’s just not clear who is eligible and who isn’t.

  3. Seems a little early to talk about banning it.
    But so far, ten states have done exactly that.

    High school football coaches, as a species, are unimaginative, concrete-skulled troglodytes. Banning something new and different would be the obvious solution. Given the opportunity, they would probably burn this guy at the stake for witchcraft.

    These are the same dimwits who like to crow about the benefits of competition, while whining about “foreign” cars in the faculty parking lot.

  4. C’mon, there should at least be 5 actual linemen.

  5. I always wondered why NFL teams who carry former QBs-turned-WRs (Seneca Wallace, Drew Bennett) don’t run 2 QB sets.

  6. Football has a lot of rules, doesn’t it. I say this as a soccer player. I didn’t even realize how many rules it has, as I have never played it formally.

  7. My understanding was that not everyone is an eligible receiver – it’s just not clear who is eligible and who isn’t.

    Yeah, only five guys can go downfield. But before the ball is snapped, it could be any five of the eleven offensive players.

  8. I wonder how they ban this formation without banning fake kicks or kicking on a down other than 4th?

  9. The college rules basically ban the A11 thru some subtlety of the rules, although I think you can pull off a close variation. I think the NFL rules make it completely impossible.

    joe,

    There are 7 actual linemen in the A11, it just isnt clear until they line up who they are. Or, which 5 will be ineligible. 🙂

  10. fyodor,

    Ban it by requiring 5 men with ineligible #s to be on the line each play.

  11. What Epi said. Also a soccer player here, though I am starting to get into watching football, despite the performance of the Seahawks.

    I also am looking forward to getting high def before the end of the year. Some of the camera angles are really cool in football (like the one from overhead).

  12. But before the ball is snapped, it could be any five of the eleven offensive players.

    Not true. You know at the set position which 5 it is, which is at least 2 secs before the snap, IIRC.

    Anyone lined up on the line who isnt an end is ineligible. Easy to figure out. 🙂

  13. Not About the Election

    Hip, Hip…Hurray!

  14. Given the rules protecting QBs and wideouts, this scheme is unfair.

    A linebacker doesn’t know who he can hit like a lineman and who he has to respect as a receiver until, when, exactly?

  15. joe,

    All the LB has to do is see where the guy lines up. Its then obvious.

    Its also harder than a typical lineup.

    Such is life.

    Suck it up and deal.

    I thought liberals were supposed to like ambiguity. 🙂

  16. robc,

    But a pulling guard could just keep going and end up going through the flat like a receiver.

    I thought liberals were supposed to like ambiguity. 🙂

    Oh, we do, but we also like fairness. Let the defense start smacking anyone they want as if they were linemen!

  17. This looks like a fun offense to watch. And I can’t stand the “purists” who deride schemes like this as “gimmicky” or “not real football”. As Radley noted, misdirection is an integral part of the game. Let’s consider some other common plays using misdirection – play action pass, draw play, screen pass, etc. I don’t hear anyone calling for the banning of those.

  18. There was some spammer who posted links to A11 stuff on all the college football sites back in August. Reason is 3 months late on this story.

  19. But a pulling guard could just keep going and end up going through the flat like a receiver.

    If he is ineligible and doesnt go down field more than 5 yards on a pass play, this is no different than now.

    Oh, we do, but we also like fairness

    Its fair – both teams are allowed to run the A11.

  20. that must be either the most or least fun offense to run.

    banning it, however, seems kinda meanspirited. it must, after all, have some weaknesses. (like being totally bugfuck)

  21. I would say it shouldn’t be banned because “it’s not real football” or because it gives someone using it an “unfair advantage.” But it’s obvious the rules weren’t written for this kind of play (even Radley calls it a “loophole”!). Thus the question reverts simply to whether we (whoever “we” are) want football to be played this way or not. As the rules were written without anticipating they would allow this kind of play, the answer would seem to be in the negative. To put it another way, if this formation is to be allowed, it should be a conscious decision to do so rather than accidental. Though that said, one should always pay attention to accidents as you never know what they might teach you!

  22. In little league football we had a trick play called the center pass.

  23. Tsu Dho Nihm

    I was at the GT-FSU game on saturday. Some of the FSU fans are calling Johnson’s TO based spread gimmicky. Some people are weird.

    The A11 is gimmicky. It is taking advantage of oddities in the rulebook. But Im okay with that too.

  24. Without having seen the clips, I’m going to guess there is a lot of passing and pitching in this offense. As Woody Hayes reputedly said, “When you put the ball in the air, three things can happen, and two of them are bad.”

    Novelty wears off. Long-term success, using this offense, is improbable. But ban it, so nobody has to think about how to beat it.

  25. Can you say “fumble-ruskie”?

  26. in most of the clips it looks like the receivers are covered, the defender just goes for the INT instead of preventing the completion and gets burned. Also the QB has forever to throw- I can’t see anyone pressuring them (guessing D opts for better coverage instead of pass rush). I’m also guessing that you can’t have a “real” running game with it, not adequately “smashmouthy” for the bigger schools that have better talent and would dominate in a very physical game which is why they’re against it.

  27. I wonder how much of the decision to do this is based on personnel. Would he run this formation if he had a star QB like he did when Drew Olson (UCLA ’05) was there?

  28. Having watched a few plays, it might actually showcase the abilities of a great QB.

  29. Can you imagine the plethora of long-snapping talent this scheme will generate? The special teams coach in me drools.

    Bailey-style disclosure: I am not, nor have I ever been a special teams coach.

  30. Actually, because it’s a “kick formation”, even the interior linemen can catch passes, so you can’t assume the man lining up next to the center is only a blocker. What robc keeps referring to is a “regular” formation.

  31. The problem for the little guys is that any scheme that actually succeeds at negating their lack of physical talent, and thus upsetting the usual order of things, will eventually be adopted by the big guys too. And then everyone will be right back where they were. See ‘spread, the’.

  32. The special teams coach in me drools.

    Much of the team does as well.

  33. “This is an unsporting act in terms of deception, which is not in accordance with the rule code or the intent and spirit of the great game,” said Mark Dreibelbis, the supervisor of officials for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

    Why is “deception” of this sort “unsporting”, but play action, the read option, and a whole host of trick plays are fine and dandy? If you don’t like the offense, find a way to stop it. That’s how sports evolve.

  34. I can’t figure out what the hell is happening in half those plays.

    As Woody Hayes reputedly said,

    Woody Hayes was exactly what all men should aspire to be. Surly, stubborn, intense, and got fired for punching a kid in the throat. Fuckin’ A.

  35. JunkCult,

    In a kick formation, you arent required to have 5 interior lineman numbers on the field. This is the loophole they are taking advantage of. However, the interior linemen still are not eligible. They are putting 11 guys with eligible #s on the field, so that any 5 guys could be interior linemen on any given play.

    And they may not be very interior, like this:

    0 O OO O OO
    X X

    Q

    K

    The Os are the linemen. The 5 interior ones are ineligible. However, The Xs could step forward and any O step backwards and change who is eligible.

  36. A few weeks ago I heard an NPR interview with the coach. In it, he said that it helps the players pay attention during practice because they never know when they’ll be called upon to be a big part of the upcoming play. It sure beats “block that guy” for the umpteenth time, I’m sure.

    And the fumble-rooskie got banned by the NCAA after Dick Tomey used it too many times. Boring institutions just want the machine schools to win, since it maintains a sense of order. But I’m for anything that leads to competitive games, and as long as smashmouth and gimmickry are both part of the game things should stay that way.

  37. okay, my graphic didnt work. Dammit.

  38. But peachy, those schemes tend to break down at the highest levels. That’s why you don’t see a real spread in the NFL, and why no one runs the option in the NFL. Defenses are too fast and talented. When it all comes down to it, the team with the most skill and athleticism win, regardless of the tactics. But things like this make the game fun for everyone in the meantime.

    In college basketball, team from a small school can shoot three pointer after three pointer and steal some games from the big boys*. But it’s always going to be the big boys in the final four (and very rarely, you’ll get a George Mason).

    *there are tons of examples, but my favorite is when my division 2 UC Riverside Highlanders beat then-undefeated and fourth ranked Iowa in Honolulu in 1989. They did it by making 21-36 from beyond the arc.

  39. Social Studies Teachers of America, something must be done to protect the reason why you really went to Ed-school. Please join us in lobbying your state legislature in banning the A-11.

    Thank you,
    The NEA

  40. The Os are the linemen. The 5 interior ones are ineligible. However, The Xs could step forward and any O step backwards and change who is eligible.

    So robc, what you’re saying is the opponent will “know” who is eligible when right before the ball is snapped, but not until that time?

  41. The tricky part is about jersey numbers though, not the formation. In the NFL, not are only certain jersey numbers eligible receivers, non eligible jersey numbers can’t even line up as eligible receivers. For jersey numbers in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 90’s, the only way to line up as an eligible receiver is to report to the official as eligible and have the official notify the other team. Interior lineman must also where the appropriate numbers.

    High school rules have an exemption for this requirement, ostensibly to allow backs and receivers to serve as long snappers. This allows the offense to flood the field with 11 potentially eligible receivers. Only 5 players plus the quarterback actually are eligible, but the opposing team has only seconds to figure this all out.

    I’d make the libertarian argument that this is another example of a well-intentioned rule good bad. No matter how well-intentioned, rules always have unintended consequences. Here, a brilliant coach discovered the perfect way to exploit the rule. Calling this a loophole makes it sound as though something was left out of the rule book, when in reality this is a classic case of unintended consequences.

  42. which is not in accordance with the rule code

    Yes, because if you allow creativity, the next stop is … anarchy.

  43. “Witness the gimmickry in the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl from a couple of years ago-arguably the greatest college football game of all time.”

    Sorry, the greatest college football game of all time was inarguably ‘Bama’s paradigm-shifting triumph in the ’21 Rose Bowl. Rooooollllll, Tide, Roooooooollllllllllllll!

  44. My first thought on this is, don’t the five people who are wearing receiver-eligible numbers but are not lined up in an eligible position have to register with the referee before the play?

    The opposite (or converse, or something) is true: if someone with a non-eligible number lines up in an eligible position, they tell the referee and the referee announces it.

  45. Seitz,

    So robc, what you’re saying is the opponent will “know” who is eligible when right before the ball is snapped, but not until that time?

    Exactly. I think 2 secs of set after a forward motion. Plenty of time to completely reorganize your D.

    🙂

  46. jeff,

    Not for a kicking play in high school. That is why one player has to be at least 7 yards behind the line, to make the uniform numbers bit moot.

  47. This allows the offense to flood the field with 11 potentially eligible receivers.

    The rule you describe doesn’t require an exemption, though. Non-eligible numbers need to report as eligible on occasion. But is the reverse true? If a back up tight end has to go into a game as a offensive tackle, he doesn’t have to report as ineligible on every play.

    Another example, if wide receiver lines up on the line of scrimmage and covers a tight end, the tight end isn’t eligible. But it’s only a penalty if he runs a route. He can stay in and block. The rules make certain numbers ineligible to touch the ball. But I’m not aware of any rule that makes certain numbers ineligible to line up as interior linemen.

  48. Years ago, the Seattle Seahawks ran a play that went something like this. 10 guys huddle up, break and line up. A wide receiver steps on to the field from the sidelines and runs a pass patttern. Nobody is guarding him so it goes for a touchdown. The refs disallow it because it was an attempt to deceive the other team.

    That ruling still pisses me off.

  49. But I’m not aware of any rule that makes certain numbers ineligible to line up as interior linemen.

    IIRC, in the NFL, college and non-kicking HS plays, you are required to have 5 guys with ineligible #s on the field. Additional guys can be ineligible, but those guys will also be, unless they check in with the ref before the play.

    College has the same exception as HS for kicking plays, except their is an “attempt to kick” clause which prevents you from running it every play. You could run an A-11 fake punt play, but if you tried to do it as a standard formation you would be flagged.

  50. That’s why you don’t see a real spread in the NFL, and why no one runs the option in the NFL.

    Yup- if you try to run this kind of stuff with a guy like Lawrence Taylor on the field, you’ll go broke buying coffins for your QBs.

  51. Years ago, the Seattle Seahawks ran a play that went something like this. 10 guys huddle up, break and line up.

    Could be a variation of illegal substitution. Usually it’s called the other way around. You can’t huddle with 15 guys, then have four of them run off the field. You can only break the huddle with the guys who are going to be in the play. It’s usually called because a team breaks the huddle with 12 guys.

  52. you’ll go broke buying coffins for your QBs.

    Option QBs are cheap. They cant find NFL jobs. Or Canadian. Or Arena.

  53. Just an FYI – the A-11 is illegal in Texas high school football, as the UIL rules here mimic the NCAA ones, as noted by robc above.

  54. I don’t know you from Adam,
    but if you’re going to play some football,
    please don’t play A-11

  55. What Epi said. Also a soccer player here

    Same here. This post might as well be Greek to me.

  56. When it all comes down to it, the team with the most skill and athleticism win, regardless of the tactics.

    If that was true, the Cowboys would be undefeated, instead of collapsing into a pile of overpaid hacks. I don’t think anyone would argue that, player for player, they have the most talent in the NFL this year. But they blow. And they started blowing before their party-boy quarterback hurt his pinkie.

    Coaching and mental discipline counts for a hell of a lot, folks.

  57. RC,

    Coaching and mental discipline

    Those are included in the “skill” category.

  58. This post might as well be Greek to me.

    Here is a bad analogy. In soccer, the guy in the funny shirt is the goalie. Imagine that no one was wearing the funny shirt and whoever happened to be the last one to yell out “Im the goalie” before a shot was taken was the goalie.

    Pro, college and some states require the football equivalent of the funny shirt.

  59. If that was true, the Cowboys would be undefeated, instead of collapsing into a pile of overpaid hacks. I don’t think anyone would argue that, player for player, they have the most talent in the NFL this year. But they blow. And they started blowing before their party-boy quarterback hurt his pinkie.

    Except all of their talent is in the “skill” positions. Their linemen, O and D, are middling at best. Put Romo and Barber behind the Falcons’ O-line with Williams, Crayton and Owens and you’d have an offense that would put up scores that rival the Greatest Show on Turf. Give them the Titans’ D-line on top of that and you have a team that could go 19-0. Chicks may dig the skill positions, but the game is won in the trenches.

  60. Yesterday, the Eagles left guard Todd Herremans became the team’s first offensive lineman in 74 years to catch a touchdown pass.
    He must have reported his eligibility to the ref, then he lined up as a second tight end.
    So why was he wide open in the end zone if the Seahawks had to be notified of his eligibility?

  61. When it all comes down to it, the team with the most skill and athleticism win, regardless of the tactics.

    The difference between the best and worst teams in the NFL is miniscule compared to the differences between the best and worst college teams, or high school teams. My comment was meant more on a general level. You aren’t going to see MAC schools adopt this style and suddenly start dominating college football. They may steal a win here or there with a crazy system, but they aren’t going to the national championship game. In the end, it’s going to be the U$Cs, Floridas, Ohio States, Oklahomas, etc., who are at the top of college football.

    And a wacky scheme like this is more successful at levels with limited scouting and coaching ability. The higher you move up the chain, the more likely they are to be figured out and shut down.

  62. creech,

    The ref has to be notified so that he doesnt throw a flag. I dont think the other team is notified, unless they are hanging out with the ref. Although I could be wrong about that.

    Then again, how often are tight ends wide open? Seems to happen all the time, even when they are wearing a TE number.

  63. their party-boy quarterback hurt his pinkie.

    What happened? Did his bobblehead girlfriend sneeze and crush his hand?

  64. Then again, how often are tight ends wide open?

    [snigger]

  65. R C Dean,

    The Cowboys have a bad O-line, so I dispute that the team is the most talented in the league–no O-line means big, big problems for the offense. They are also losing their edge on defense, though defensive slippage can often come from spending too much damned time on the field.

    Wholesale trickery on offense usually only works at the lower levels of football, with the occasional short-term splash at the pro level. Defense in the NFL is way too fast and disciplined to be subverted by such shenanigans for very long. Which is why the spread option or really any option is a dead art at the pro level.

  66. The ref has to be notified so that he doesnt throw a flag. I dont think the other team is notified, unless they are hanging out with the ref. Although I could be wrong about that.

    Refs usually announce it over the PA before the play, so everyone in the stadium knows.

    As for why he was open, I assume it’s because they ran a good play. Why is any eligible receiver ever open in the endzone? It’s because he ran a good play and the defense screwed up. I doubt it’s because they didn’t know he was eligible.

    Also, most O-linemen can’t catch. If I’m a DB or a linebacker, and I have to decide between covering a TE/WR/back or covering an eligible O-lineman, I’ll cover the guy who has to catch for a living.

  67. This “football” game that you Americans practice is an allegory for everything that’s wrong with your country.

    It started out with a simple set of rules that everyone understood. But over time, busybody rule makers kept adding new amendments to the rulebook, until today it is such a incomprehensible mess filled with loopholes and patches for unintended consequences. Worse still, each governing body establishes its own, often incompatible set of rules (take Canadian Football, with its 12-men, 3-downs and 110-yard field as a particularly extreme example). All the complexity and inconsistency of American football ensures that nobody else in the world understands it, so despite your best efforts, it doesn’t export well.

    Soccer, on the other hand, has just 17 laws, which have remained largely unchanged since their drafting in late 1800s. This brand of football, due largely to its simplicity and consistency, stands unchallenged as the most popular sport on the planet.

    Draw what implications you may.

  68. Russ,

    Rugby Union. Rugby League. Nuff said.

  69. Wholesale trickery on offense usually only works at the lower levels of football, with the occasional short-term splash at the pro level. Defense in the NFL is way too fast and disciplined to be subverted by such shenanigans for very long. Which is why the spread option or really any option is a dead art at the pro level.

    Exhibit A: It took NFL defensive coordinators all of 3 weeks to figure out how to stop the Wildcat offense, even though it’s only being used for a couple of plays.

  70. Imagine that no one was wearing the funny shirt and whoever happened to be the last one to yell out “Im the goalie” before a shot was taken was the goalie.

    That’s madness – I can’t imagine that…

    Funny thing is – I enjoy watching football, even though I have only barest understanding of how they play it.

  71. Russ,

    Im a big soccer fan. They need to change some laws in order to get scoring back to early 20th century levels.

    My two recommendations:

    1. Convert the goal to metric. Instead of 8 yards by 8 feet, make it 8 meters by 2.67 meters. That extra bit helps counteract the fact that all goalies are now 6’7″. It would also encourage longer shot attempts.

    2. Only 7 non-goalie players may ever be on either side of the midfield line (this rule roughly stolen from Lacrosse). This prevents Ds from ever packing it back in the box. If it was 8 that would be okay too. A team playing a 442 would just leave their strikers up past midfield.

  72. RUSS, BUT IN FOOTBALL THE TEAM WITH THE MOST POINTS WILL USUALLY WIN THE GAME

  73. This “football” game that you Americans practice is an allegory for everything that’s wrong with your country…so despite your best efforts, it doesn’t export well.

    You’re completely off-base here. American culture seems to be about the only thing left (besides agricultural products) that we *do* export. The long-standing explanation is that American culture, being a melange of different things, transports across the world much more easily than, say, Norwegian culture. American football is a bizarre exception to this general rule.

    I don’t argue for American exceptionalism, but neither am I one of those folks who reflexively puts down my culture or bows down in awe of others. We’re all pretty much just slightly different flavors of the same thing, I’ve found.

    Soccer, on the other hand, has just 17 laws, which have remained largely unchanged since their drafting in late 1800s. This brand of football, due largely to its simplicity and consistency, stands unchallenged as the most popular sport on the planet.

    And yet, it remains highly unpopular as a spectator sport in the USA. Guess we’re just not as ‘sophisticated’ as you, wherever the heck you’re from.

    I played soccer as a kid, and yet I can’t stand to watch it as a spectator. Once you get the hang of American football, it becomes quite addictive.

  74. Russ: Draw what implications you may.

    From the sound of things, you’re calling other countries stupid. Not an assesment I agree with, mind you, but that’s how your post reads. They’re too dumb to understand American football.

    The joy of American football is the complexity. The arcane and complex rule system allows a huge variety of approaches to play. It’s like miniatures war gaming, where half the fun is applying the agreed upon rules in an interesting way. Soccer is Chess to Football’s Warhammer. Sure, there’s a simple elegance to the former, but the latter allows a much greater depth of play and more novel arrangements.

  75. It started out with a simple set of rules that everyone understood. But over time, busybody rule makers kept adding new amendments to the rulebook, until today it is such a incomprehensible mess filled with loopholes and patches for unintended consequences. Worse still, each governing body establishes its own, often incompatible set of rules (take Canadian Football, with its 12-men, 3-downs and 110-yard field as a particularly extreme example). All the complexity and inconsistency of American football ensures that nobody else in the world understands it, so despite your best efforts, it doesn’t export well.

    The complexity of the rules enriches the drama of the thing. Playing football in a narrow hallway and having it function as a wrestling match with a ball is great fun for the participants, but dull for observers. The complex rules of american football create space and suspense, setting a suitably grand stage for a grand drama.

  76. Soccer, on the other hand, has just 17 laws, which have remained largely unchanged since their drafting in late 1800s.

    When not much happens, you don’t need many rules.

    This brand of football, due largely to its simplicity and consistency, stands unchallenged as the most popular sport on the planet.

    I think it has as much to do with the capital-intensive nature of football versus soccer, myself.

  77. I came up with the “two headed snake” years ago, but with a twist. I would use a running white QB and a black QB that could throw. Stereotypes alone would give us an advantage for a while at least.

  78. I don’t think anyone would argue that, player for player, they have the most talent in the NFL this year.

    Point taken on how their lines don’t excel. My statement was based mostly on the enormous number of players they sent to the Pro Bowl last year, nearly all of whom are back this year.

  79. I’ve since given up on the idea. If Nick Saben doesn’t use it than it must not be any good, Roll Tide.

  80. I came up with the “two headed snake” years ago, but with a twist. I would use a running white QB and a black QB that could throw. Stereotypes alone would give us an advantage for a while at least.

    It’s been done. Florida with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.

  81. When not much happens, you don’t need many rules.

    Well, they could make each goal six points and then it would be just as eventful as American football.

    The complex rules of american football create space and suspense, setting a suitably grand stage for a grand drama.

    Oh lordy, what piffle 🙂

    Listen, the big difference is that American football is played in advertiser-friendly, bite-sized chunks while the play in soccer is more or less continuous for each half. I like them both but the complexity of football turns me off more than it “enriches the drama”.

  82. ChrisO

    “You’re completely off-base here. American culture seems to be about the only thing left (besides agricultural products) that we *do* export.”

    No disagreement from me. You’re absolutely right. American culture (music, movies, television, celebrities, etc.) export extremely well. I suspect that’s becuase you still have one of the least regulated media industries in the world.

    BTW, I’m from Canada, where football is still played largely the way it was invented (because we invented it).

  83. Canuckian lies!

  84. Social acceptance A-11 Offense threatens the very existence of Traditional Football Offense.

    By putting the A-11 on the same level as other, tried and tested, methods of moving the ball forward undermines the very institution of the non-A-11 offense.

  85. This is why I never got into football: too many inane rules. You can only receive if you have the correct number on your jersey? WTF?

  86. BTW, I’m from Canada, where football is still played largely the way it was invented (because we invented it).

    Thanks for the reading material. I’ve always found the history of (North) American football interesting, and I also think CFL football is very entertaining.

    If the CFL season didn’t overlap at the end so much with the NFL, I bet it would have more of a shot at winning some U.S. fans on TV. There are a *lot* of U.S. fans who go into withdrawal after the Super Bowl and aren’t as interested in other sports. The USFL and XFL both tried to go after those fans, but as startups they had inherent difficulties.

    It’s interesting to me that both the U.S. and Canadian versions of the game have drifted far away from their rugby origins. Of course, soccer is also something of a rugby derivative, I believe, and the modern soccer rules post-date the origin of a recognizably North American version of football.

  87. Football has so many rules because it is fundamentally a violent, chaotic game. Maintaining its fundamental nature while having a game that is balanced and non-lethal is a real challenge.

    Most of the arcane rules are an attempt to maintain parity between offense and defense. The rule on eligible recievers is a prime example: if everyone’s eligible, the game is too imbalanced to offense.

  88. For the 1st 60 yrs. of the fwd. pass, i.e. until 1966, there were no requirements re shirt numbers affecting eligibility to receive a fwd. pass, so I don’t see how this admittedly unintended loophole in NFSHSA’s scrimmage kick formation rules (intended to allow players onto positions they don’t usually play in the “suicide squads” without needing pullover jersey numbers, now banned) would turn the game into something like it’s never been before. Only about 40% of the history of the forward pass has had to deal with the eligible receiver numbering rules at all.

    Also, it grates a bit to see mention of “Wildcat” when there’s another, slightly older formation by Hugh Wyatt with that same name that’s a lot more interesting. The Wyatt wildcat is a cross between the double T of the 1950s (2 quarterbacks almost under center) and the recently popular Markham-Eien version of the double wing. See if you can follow the ball in this collection of clips: http://homepage.mac.com/coachhw/WILDCAT/iMovieTheater7.html .

  89. Ah, Woody Hayes. Fired for tackling a Clemson player during a game. I was not yet born at the time of that game, but I talked to some guys who were and no one in the stands really knew what happened until the next day.

    The rules quirk that allows the A-11 in some high-school games does not exist in either NCAA or NFL football. Given that college teams have yet to really figure out how to stop the spread offense, they might really have some fun with the A-11. Running that offense would take a lot of discipline from the players running it to not break any one of the myriad of rules. Also once a standard non-receiver gets popped by a linebacker who runs a 4.4 40 going at full speed I doubt he cares to catch a ball again. There is a high school team I think in Alabama that doesn’t have a kicker, either punter or place, they always go for the conversion on 4th down. They’ve been pretty successful at it. Watching pro and college football over the last few years a lot of those teams have started to change how they approach 4th down. Teams are more likely in recent years to go for the 1st in certain circumstances. There’s a professor who did a study and he came up with a set of rules for when you should and shouldn’t punt.

    I’ve not watched the A-11. Is it a mostly run offense or pass? It seems that a team that ran a 3-4 against it, and sent one of the linebackers at the QB each play you could mess up the offense unless the QB is very disciplined and quick on his reads. Since several guys who look like they are blocking go out for a pass there are going to be holes in the protection, and if the offense doesn’t know which LB’s coming they don’t know which one to fill.

  90. “A linebacker doesn’t know who he can hit like a lineman and who he has to respect as a receiver until, when, exactly?”

    A defender can hit a an eligible receiver with impunity if he’s on or behiing the line of scrimmage. Ineligible receivers are not allowed to go downfiled on passing plays until a forward pass has been made.

    The biggest problem with this scheme is probably for the officials, as they have to figure out who the ineligibles are by where they set on the line (because the offense is not using the numbers shorthand for linemen). If it gets banned, that’ll be the rationale, that it deceives the refs.

  91. Having watched all of the videos about this offense that I can find, and having read hundreds of threads, this A-11 is a killer thing of beauty.

    Truly, truly awesome!

    Will

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