Mossman: Hurry-Up Not New at OU

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma | Mossman Prophecies | Archive

Congregation, for today's football lesson we turn to the ninth verse in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, where it says, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

That, of course, brings us to the college football rage these days, the hurry-up offense.

Thanks to a more-frequently moving clock and the fact that offensive coordinators delight in watching defensive players run ragged while trying to find a decent alignment, offensive units no longer huddle.

Instead they stand at the line of scrimmage peering over at a group of coaches or reserve players signaling in plays with a series of hand and arm gyrations that more closely resemble a game of Charades gone terribly wrong.

Innovative? Creative? Well, maybe the gyrations, but nothing else.

Hurry-up offenses are nearly as old as the game itself. And, interestingly, Oklahoma has ties to the history of the hurry-up. One involved Oklahoma's first great coach, Bennie Owen.

Prior to 1900 when he was playing football at Kansas under legendary coach Fielding Yost, Owen, the KU quarterback, was instructed to call signals for the next play while still lying beneath the tackle pile from the previous snap.

So prominent was that part of Yost's strategy that he was nicknamed, "Hurry Up."

Half-a-century later, Bud Wilkinson employed a similar strategy when his out-sized Sooners were struggling against Maryland in the 1956 Orange Bowl.

Trailing 6-0 at halftime, Wilkinson called for the "fast break offense." The frenetic tempo left the Terps tired and disorganized, and the Sooners rallied for a 20-6 victory.

That 1955 OU team won the national championship and extended its winning streak, the one that would eventually reach an NCAA record 47 games, to 30 with that win over Maryland.

The fact that coaches have returned to the hurry-up ploy in this generation is certainly no indictment on today's football minds. It has long been said that the best ideas are stolen.

No, what the more recent bent towards the hurry-up should point out is the wisdom of the game's early strategists. The fact that this whole concept is effective more than 100 years after it was first introduced certainly merits a tip of the visor.

That said, the warped offensive numbers emanating from the hurry-up mixed with the spread formation leave this football traditionalist a bit concerned. I don't know what the inventors of the game intended, but am guessing they envisioned a first down as something to be cherished, not assumed.

But that's just me. Nothing pleased my football eye more than a well-oiled wishbone, which was plenty potent in its own right. Some say it will never come back. I scoff. If Fielding Yost's hurry-up found its way back into the playbooks, so too can the triple option.

While waiting, I'm content to sit here and watch those three guys signal in from the sideline while wondering if my rotator cuffs could hold up under such duress. | Mossman Prophecies | Archive

Read an inside perspective from the OU Athletics Department on the latest Sooner sports topics. Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny Mossman provides his thoughts in his online column at