The NFHS rules committee that banned the A-11 offense in January is out of touch with the typical football fan, and probably evil, according to a recent ESPN poll.
"It's been wonderful and amazing to receive all this support from coaches, administrators and football fans from around the country," Kurt Bryan, the Piedmont High (Calif.) coach who is a co-creator of the offense, told me by phone today. "This is standing up for the little guy."
In a meeting of the National Federation of State High School Associations in Indianapolis in January, the rules committee voted 46-2 to ban the A-11, that pass-friendly offense developed by San Francisco Bay Area coaches Bryan and Steve Humphries. The A-11 is a cross between the wildcat formation and Calvinball, in which punt formation rules are used to make six players eligible to catch a pass on any given play. The big problem for the defense is, they never know which six. The formation even employs two quarterbacks on some plays.
But now, on first, second and third downs, at least four players must wear numbers between 50 and 79, making them ineligible to catch a pass. Poor form, says America. An ESPN poll on the issue puts readers squarely in favor of the A-11, 75 percent to 25 percent.
"We are stunned; when you look at the breakdown of the poll, the A-11 won all 50 states," said Bryan, whose team — with only two traditional linemen on its roster — went 8-3 last season. "The most disgusting thing about this is that most of the people on the rules committee who are against the offense have never seen an A-11 game live. That's overwhelming negligence on their part.
"There is such an amazing disconnect between the people on the rules committee and the boots on the ground," Bryan said. "This offense terrifies football traditionalists. But you know what? I'm a football traditionalist. I grew up using the same rules and concepts they did. But I also recognize progress when I see it. This offense prevents injuries and gets more kids involved in the game, not to mention being exciting to watch. What's wrong with that?"
Piedmont has applied to the California Interscholastic Federation for a waiver to be able to use the A-11 in the upcoming season, and the CIF is putting together a panel and should make a ruling soon. Meanwhile, the local CBS TV affiliate, KPIX, is preparing a feature on the story that will run Sunday, to be picked up by several other affiliates nationwide.
Momentum for the A-11 is building. Will America trade in its big, lumbering offensive formations for a sleeker, more fuel efficient model? Stay tuned.