Its been said by many football coaches that scheme doesn’t matter as much as execution. Somehow, many of them also believe that scheme doesnt matter much at all.

If by some chance you missed the BCS National Championship College football game last night, there was a valuable lesson to be learned, hopefully Ohio State gets it by now, because they didn’t get it after last year’s match. I feel sorry for Ohio State, they have a great program, but they have a fundamental flaw in their coaching philosophy….they do not seem to “scheme” much.

Ohio State and LSU seemed to be evenly matched athletically. Ohio State came into the game with one of the best, if not the best defense in the nation and it appeared the Ohio State players were playing within their assignments. Why were they beat so badly?

When it comes to play calling, there are two main variables, the actual scheme (and the rules that govern the scheme) and the execution of that scheme.

It appears Ohio State relies fundamentally on a “execution” type philosophy, which is that flawless execution of a low risk offense will score enough points to win a game, if our defense can show up. I was bored with their offense and the only thing I saw close to a wrinkle was a reverse that went for 5 yards. I was also surprised at the number of penalties they had- they were not a well disciplined team.

LSU clearly embraces a “scheme first, execution second” philosophy. The second touchdown on the small gate right, tight end left is a perfect example of an offensive “scheme” that broke the defensive. The safety had no idea what was going on. It seemed LSU was shifting on nearly every play, this can confuse a defense, especially if its going on for 3.5 hours and you are getting tired.

Every team installs a base offense, usually about 25-40 plays, and every week will make adjustments to those plays depending on who they are playing. During the regular season, teams have about 3 days to practice their new adjustments. So not only is change important, but the rate of change, which team can change the fastest gains an advantage. If a team refuses to change, they will be beaten, no matter how good their execution is. Ive seen this many times on both the college and professional level…. good teams going bad because they refuse to mix it up.

The problem with big bowl games like this, is the opponent now has 5-6 weeks to prepare instead of 3 days. Granted the numbers of practices are limited, but if you aren’t a coach who embraces a “scheme” type mentality facing one who is….you are in big trouble. Norm Chow (the real reason USC went from dud to amazing), Urban Myer (Florida) and Gary Crowton (LSU offensive co-ordinator) are all scheme coaches.

The lesson to be learned is….it pays to change up how you do things. Scheme DOES matter. No matter how good you are at something, even if you can execute it perfectly, there is a better way. If you remember this, you will always have the drive to get better. If not, science, business and sports all prove you will eventually be beaten.