Saturday, August 23, 2008

Inside the Tony Franklin Undefeatable Patented Offensive System©

Inside the Tony Franklin Undefeatable Patented Offensive System©

by Michael Bernard

It is well storied that Tony Franklin designed and started consulting with his Undefeatable Patented Offensive System© after the fall-0ut caused by his authoring Fourth Down and Life To Go about his time and controversies surrounding his tenure at the University of Kentucky. Black-listed from coaching, Franklin slowly lost everything while trying to create and promote his niche football system, eventually building that audience in Texas, Alabama, and his home state of Kentucky.

As he told ESPN's Pat Forde. "It was desperation," Franklin said. "I was broke and trying to survive. A lot of great things happen out of desperation."

Now no less than 300 High School teams and a handful of college programs use their own version of Franklin's Undefeatable Patented Offensive System©, and Franklin first revitalized Troy's offense before being tapped by Tommy Tuverville to resurrect Auburn's floundering offense prior to last year's Peach Bowl versus Clemson. Under Franklin, the Trojans progressed from 109th in total offense and 111th in scoring in 2005 to 16th and 25th in 2007, Franklin's second year, while leading the Sun Belt in yards and points in '06 and '07 and winning 13 of 14 conference games.

One of the secrets to the Franklin/Troy success was Omar Haugabook, who, as an extrodinary run-pass option quarterback, led the Sun Belt in completion percentage and total offense two consecutive years. And the greatest stumbling block for the implementation of the Tony Frankline Undefeatable Patented Offensive System© in Auburn this year may be the tremendous amount of talent equally split between their two primary quarterbacks, arm-cannon Chris Todd and run-option quarterback Kodi "Blunt" Burns. Both are highly vaunted, and the party line coming out of Jordan-Hare is that both are so good that choosing one or the other is too difficult. Which many understand in doublespeak to mean "neither is what we need to run our offense".

Tony Franklin's Undefeatable Patented Offensive System© caught on with high school programs because, in part, it was the first to comprehensively unravel and explain the nuances of the Spread Offense, which was just gaining national luminance in the late 1990's. Most high schools still ran modified versions of the Veer-Option and simplistic passing attacks, with versions of the spread offense popping up randomly, independantly, in various places, largely the work of zealous coaches reinterpreting onto their teams what they saw teams such as the University of Florida doing each Saturday. Later, teams that signed up for one of the $3,000 seminars ran by Franklin could even elect to exclude other teams from their competitive districts and regions, ensuring them a monopoly on the underground phenomenon slowly sweeping Football Nation. It could be argued that at this late hour, Auburn is behind the curve in adopting a spread offense into their playbook, and Tommy Tuberville has admitted that the old-school perception of Auburn as a 3-yard and a cloud of dust rushing program has deterred the program's ability to sign highly touted reciever recruits. Indeed, many think that Auburn's shift to the Spread Offense may, in fact, be more of a ploy to woo blue-chip recruits that a shift in actual style of play, if we are to ignore the Peach Bowl.......

9 days and eight practices. Tony Franklin was brought in to replace abruptly departed Al Borges, the West Coast football guru that proceeded him as Auburn's Offensive Coordinator. Senior starting quarterback Brandon Cox was embattled from all sides, many in the media and fans calling for his being replaced by the younger run-option quarterback Kodi Burns. The Peach Bowl, against a very strong Clemson team, was approaching, and time was short. All year Auburn had been plagued by an inability to put points on the board, and against a potentially explosive Clemson rushing attack led by C.J. "Lightning" Spiller, Auburn would need to score. While Al Borges had his own cult-following, it was mostly out west, mostly nuanced by experiences with Bill Walsh and many others whose names mean nothing to SEC Football. Tony Franklin has a coaches-coach grassroots following that rivals Dionysus himself, and his being brought into Auburn had immediately tangible possibilities--with a greater sense of wonder considering that an entire off-season would not swell with the possibilities, but that they would be immediately apparent in the Peach Bowl.