Forget scholarship limits. If you want to know the true reason why there's parity in college football, look to the offenses.
That's what Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told the media at Big 12 Media Days on Monday.
Responding to criticism of up-tempo offenses by coaches like Nick Saban, Gundy took the issue one step further, away from safety concerns.
"Spread offenses have been the single thing that has created parity in college football," Gundy said.
He's got a point.
Could a team like Oklahoma State compete with the Oklahomas and Texases of the world if it ran a standard I-formation style or pro set? Would Baylor have won 10 games, much less a Heisman lining up its offense in a phone booth? Could Texas Tech recruit the quality linemen needed to develop a successful power running game?
The answer to all those questions, of course, is no. Running variations of the spread allows teams with lesser talent to compete with teams with more talent. Some of these teams have built upon their success with the spread by bringing in better players, thus injecting more talent into their schemes and, in some cases, propelling their programs into the elite of college football (see Oregon).
Which may be the real reason Saban is against all these up-tempo spreads we've seen lately.
After all, no team is more talented right now than Alabama. The Tide chooses to win with defense and a power running game. Most other teams don't have that luxury. The spread gives teams a chance to compete.
So be thankful for the spread. Without it, the Alabama-Texas A&M game scheduled for Sept. 14 would be a cakewalk.