THE GREAT DEBATE
I totally agree with John Underwood regarding his debate with Paul Zimmerman (A Running Debate, Sept. 7). I feel that the running attacks of most college football teams are much more advanced and more exciting to watch than those of most pro teams. I'd much rather see a college game featuring good running attacks than sit through a pro game watching "cows on ice."
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Paul Zimmerman is stupid to think that pro football is as exciting as the college game. Pro football is dull. Pro coaches should have their quarterbacks run options and bootlegs.
Diamond Bar, Calif.
I have a bit of news for John Underwood and Paul Zimmerman: The running game isn't obsolete in the modern NFL. In this season's first week, seven teams—Tampa Bay. Philadelphia. Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Green Bay and Atlanta—rushed for more yardage than they gained via the air. All seven won.
Of course, as the Oilers have spent three years learning, you can't win with an attack based solely on rushing. But an "Air Coryell" mentality is no more effective, and it seems to me that no team has ever won the Super Bowl with a one-dimensional offense.
John Underwood throws all those 400-yard rushing figures in college games at us without considering the difference between college and pro defenses. Defensive play in the 'pros is totally superior to that of the colleges. With many pro teams playing the 3-4 defense and others playing the flex, it's nearly impossible for pro teams to match college rushing figures.
I feel that the passing game of the pros is much more thrilling than the constant running game of the colleges.
College football more exciting than the pros? Sorry, John, but you've got the wrong sport. You're thinking of basketball.
The pros can't run because the "daylight" between the zones, where professional defenders are effective, has diminished severely over the years as their collective size, speed and tackling skills have increased while the field dimensions remained fixed.
This situation exists for the colleges, as well, when the talent factors are equal. Over the past decade, balanced offensive teams like USC and Notre Dame have consistently defeated their run-oriented peers from the Big Ten, Southeastern and Southwest conferences, especially in postseason bowls.
Because pro defenders have even greater effective ranges than their college counterparts, pro offenses must constantly search for means to spread them out. Given that the field isn't likely to be widened, this means that the offensive attack zone can be increased only via the air—and at the expense of the ground game.
Ann Arbor, Mich.