Bowden, spread, Tebow mark decade

The decade began with Bobby Bowden sitting atop the world of college football, having just won his second national championship. It ended with the Florida State coach driving a spear into the ground, a ritual to illustrate the finality of a great career.

The passing game turned spread from a verb into a noun. The spread offense spread across the game. Scores went up. The blood pressure of defensive coaches went up. Fullbacks became as rare as VHS. The nickelback played more, unless defenses went ahead and called him a linebacker. The spread acted a lot like the common cold. Stopping it is difficult because no two are exactly alike.

The spread rendered the passing records at the beginning of the decade obsolete. One of the best coaches to use the spread, Urban Meyer, began the decade in obscurity and, after winning at Bowling Green, Utah and two national championships at Florida, ended it in limbo.

Gators quarterback Tim Tebow became the most loved and hated player in the SEC, which means in all of football. The SEC finished the decade as the first conference to win four consecutive national championships.

Tebow became one of eight quarterbacks to win the Heisman. Three Heismans went to USC Trojans, one of many illustrations of how Pete Carroll’s team dominated the sport. The Trojans finished in the top five in seven consecutive seasons.

USC began the decade in mediocrity and spent most of it in greatness. Alabama sunk into mediocrity for most of the decade and ended it in greatness. Notre Dame began the decade in mediocrity and ended it the same way.

In 2008, Michigan suffered its first losing season since 1967.

In 2009, Michigan suffered its second losing season since 1967.