Anytime someone says they hope not to offend as a front-end softener, you know the sledgehammer is about to fall on the back end.
This time, it's Seattle Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, and his target is the spread offenses that have swept across college football.
"I'm not wanting to offend anybody, but college football, offensively, has gotten to be really, really bad fundamentally," Cable told ESPN 710 radio in Seattle. "Unfortunately, I think we're doing a huge disservice to offensive football players, other than a receiver, that come out of these spread systems. The runners aren't as good. They aren't taught how to run. The blockers aren't as good. The quarterbacks aren't as good. They don't know how to read coverage and throw progressions. They have no idea."
Quarterbacks in the 2015 draft class such as Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Bryce Petty of Baylor drew those very criticisms, but the linemen and running back positions which Cable also sees with spread-related shortcomings seem to escape the heat. Nevertheless, Cable's comments came just a day after Fox Sports gathered a staunch defense of those very criticisms from college coaches who teach the spread.
Said Arizona's Rich Rodriguez: "I watch the NFL and it looks like 65 percent of the snaps, at least, are in the shotgun, sometimes more. So I think kids running a shotgun, spread-based offense transition easier. I can teach a third-grader in five minutes how to take a three-step drop and a five-step drop under center. But to teach a kid to catch and throw without the laces in the quick game and the full-field read? I think that's a learned skill."
While spread offenses have lit up college scoreboards and reduced the 400-yard average to commonplace, a reputation for being incongruous with the NFL is detrimental to recruiting. Hence, the backlash from coaches like Rodriguez.
Mariota was drafted No. 2 overall by the Tennessee Titans, so in his case, overall talent won out over concerns about his adaptability to the NFL. That was the larger point from Baylor coach Art Briles -- that while NFL coaches might complain about the learning curve, they still adhere to an evaluation of raw talent when it comes to the draft.
The message from Briles to coaches like Cable seems to be: talk is cheap, and draft position speaks for itself.
Now, if we could just get Cable and Briles locked in a room for an hour, with some popcorn and a video feed.