The current debate in college football ranges from recruiting ethics and text messaging to the merits of the spread offense. And of course, there is the stalwart of debate: playoffs v. bowl games. This post isn't about any of that. This post is about the debate that was going on in the 1950s and something we take for granted today: two-platoon football. Sixty years ago, everybody played both offense and defense; now it's a novelty when someone takes a few snaps at corner and a few at wide receiver. Heck, it's even enough of a circus act to steal the Heisman Trophy from one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, not that I'm still bitter or anything.
I always assumed that the two-platoon system was widely accepted when it came into being, but not so. In fact, according to an Associated Press article from 1951 ($), there was a lot of argument among sports media about the merit of two-platoon football.
Especially accurate, too, is the specialization of positions and emphasis of coaching (nos. 4 and 5 on the list). Although many offenses allow their QBs freedom to change the play at the line, long gone are the days when quarterbacks called all their own plays. Most positions have become specialized (nickel backs and rush ends on defense, third-down backs and multiple sets/packages on offense) though it hasn't quite turned out the way writer Craig Stolze envisioned:
What I can't help but wonder is this: had blogging (or message boards, or sports talk radio) been around in 1951, would this argument take up as much space as the playoff argument takes now? I have to think it would, and it makes me wonder further: In 40 years, when a playoff has been around for decades, will we remember the bowl system as being as antiquated as single-platoon football seems today?