The split-T is an offensive formation in American football that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Developed by Missouri Tigers head coach Don Faurot as a variation on the T formation, the split-T was first used in the 1941 season and allowed the Tigers to win all but their season-opening match against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the 1942 Sugar Bowl versus Fordham.Jim Tatum and Bud Wilkinson, who coached under Faurot with the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks during World War II, brought the split-T to the Oklahoma Sooners in 1946. After Tatum left for Maryland in 1947, Wilkinson became the head coach and went on to win a record-setting 47 straight games and two national titles between 1953 and 1957.
In the basic or tight-T formation, three running backs would line up about five yards behind the quarterback. The offensive linemen would form a fairly tight group in front of the backs.In the split-T, the offensive line was spread out over almost twice as much ground. This prompted the defensive front to widen as well, which created gaps for the offense to exploit.
The original split-T was a full house backfield. Later, Faurot would set up a flanker on one sideline.This was done after experience with nine man lines showed the flanker to create issues for the defense. The use of a split end to aid the passing game was optional, and was not an integral feature of either the split-T or the tight-T.
Faurot used the new formation to create what may have been the first option offense in football, which was a precursor of the wishbone, veer, and some modern run-first spread offenses. With the defense spread out, the offense would, in general, leave one defensive player on the play side unblocked. The blocking schemes were simple, with very little of the pulling or trapping of the more traditional power-running offenses.
The three base plays of the offense were the handoff (a dive play), the keep and the pitch play.The handoff was a fast play, with a halfback driving directly into the line, and the quarterback handing off within one yard of the line of scrimmage. Faurot judged this play to be the most dangerous in his offensive system, as the handoff occurred close to the line of scrimmage, close to potential interference by the defensive team.
If the dive play had not been called, then the quarterback kept the ball. The quarterback would run toward a spot just inside the unblocked defensive player. If that player closed on him, he would pitch the ball back to the outside trailing halfback, aiming for a spot outside that outside defensive player. When executed correctly, this resembled the two-on-one fast break of basketball, from which Faurot originally derived the concept (Faurot also lettered in basketball, as a student, and coached the Northeast Missouri State University basketball team to a conference championship prior to his tenure as the head football coach at Missouri).
The split-T helped revolutionize college football, and some of its principles, such as the wishbone and veer formations, are in vogue today. However, when Don Faurot and his Missouri team unveiled it for the first time ever against Ohio State in my first game as head coach, it gave me some of the worst moments of my coaching career.— Paul Brown, Brown and Clary, p. 82
Don Faurot, the head coach of the Missouri Tigers, developed the split-T and unleashed it onto the college football world in 1941.He combined this new formation with the athletes he had at running back and quarterback and created an offensive juggernaut. The Tigers finished the season 8-1, with the sole loss in the season opening out of conference game at #10 Ohio State. They were the Big Six Conference champions, ranked #7 in the AP poll, and accepted the invitation to play #6 Fordham in the 1942 Sugar Bowl.
In 1946, Jim Tatum became the Oklahoma head coach. He installed the split-T offense that he had learned as an assistant coach under Don Faurot at the U.S. Navy's Iowa Pre-Flight school football team during World War II. In his first year, he turned around Oklahoma's losing record and delivered a Big Six Conference championship.In 1947, Tatum left Oklahoma for Maryland, where he saw even more success with the split-T, including a consensus national championship in 1953.
Bud Wilkinson, also a Faurot assistant at Iowa Pre-Flight, was the next Sooners head coach. In 1953, after losing to Notre Dame and tying Pittsburgh, Oklahoma beat arch-rivals Texas, 19–14, and went on to win their next 46 games in a row, setting an NCAA record that stands to this day. Notre Dame book-ended the streak when they again beat Oklahoma in Norman, 7–0 on November 16, 1957.
Tatum and Wilkinson would later face off in the 1954 Orange Bowl, when #1/#1 Maryland and #4/#5 Oklahoma met on the field for the first time. Both teams used the split-T as their base offense. Other top football programs used the split-T during this period as well, including Alabama, Houston, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State.
An option offense is a style of offense in American football that is predominantly based on a running play. However, instead of a specific play in mind, the offense has several "options" of how to proceed. Based on the defense, the quarterback may hand off to a fullback up the middle (dive), hold on to the ball and run himself to either side of the field (keep), or pitch the ball to a trailing running back (pitch). Option offenses have traditionally relied heavily upon running plays, though modern option offenses now incorporate some passing plays called the Run-Pass Option or RPOs. Because they are run-based, option offenses are very effective in managing the game clock, giving the opposing team less time to score and keeping the option team's defense from tiring. However, this also means that when the option team is losing near the end of the game, and needs to score quickly, it is at a disadvantage. These schemes rely on timing, deception, and split-second decision-making under pressure, which, in turn, require precise execution and discipline.
Daniel John Devine was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Arizona State University from 1955 to 1957, the University of Missouri from 1958 to 1970, and the University of Notre Dame from 1975 to 1980, compiling a career college football mark of 173–56–9. Devine was also the head coach of the National Football League's Green Bay Packers from 1971 to 1974, tallying a mark of 25–27–4. His 1977 Notre Dame team won a national championship after beating Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Devine was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1985.
The wishbone formation, also known simply as the bone, is an offensive formation in American football. The style of attack to which it gives rise is known as the wishbone offense. Like the spread offense in the 2000s, the wishbone was considered to be the most productive and innovative offensive scheme in college football during the 1970s and 1980s.
In American football, a T formation is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T".
Donald Burrows Faurot was an American football and basketball player, coach, and college athletics administrator best known for his eight-decade association with the University of Missouri. He served as the head football coach at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College—commonly known at the time as Kirksville State Teachers College and now known as Truman State University—from 1926 to 1934 and at Missouri from 1935 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1956. During World War II, Faurot coached the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks in 1943 and the football team at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in 1944. He was also the head basketball coach at Kirksville State from 1925 to 1934, tallying a mark of 92–74. Faurot was the athletic director at Missouri from 1935 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1967. He lettered in three sports at Missouri in the early 1920s: in football, as a halfback, basketball and baseball.
James M. "Big Jim" Tatum was an American football and baseball player and coach. Tatum served as the head football coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Oklahoma (1946), and the University of Maryland, College Park (1947–1955), compiling a career college football record of 100–35–7. His 1953 Maryland team won a national title. As a head coach, he employed the split-T formation with great success, a system he had learned as an assistant under Don Faurot at the Iowa Pre-Flight School during World War II. Tatum was also the head baseball coach at Cornell University from 1937 to 1939, tallying a mark of 20–40–1. Tatum's career was cut short by his untimely death in 1959. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1984.
The Oklahoma Sooners football program is a college football team that represents the University of Oklahoma. The team is a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The program began in 1895 and is one of the most successful programs since World War II with the most wins (606) and the highest winning percentage (.762) since 1945.
The spread offense is an offensive scheme in gridiron football that typically places the quarterback in the shotgun formation, and "spreads" the defense horizontally using three-, four-, and even five-receiver sets. Used at every level of the game including professional, college, and high school programs across the US and Canada, spread offenses often employ a no-huddle approach. Some implementations of the spread also feature wide splits between the offensive linemen.
The Veer is an option running play often associated with option offenses in American football, made famous at the collegiate level by Bill Yeoman's Houston Cougars. It is currently run primarily on the high school level, with some usage at the collegiate and the professional level where the Veer's blocking scheme has been modified as part of the zone blocking system. The Veer is an effective ball control offense that can help minimize mismatches in a game for a team. However, it can lead to turnovers with pitches and handoff option reads.
The 1946 Oklahoma Sooners football team represented the University of Oklahoma in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college football. The team was led by Jim Tatum in his first and only season as head coach. Along with first-year backfield coach Bud Wilkinson, who became the head coach himself the following year, Tatum installed the new split-T offense. An intensive recruiting effort, largely focused at veterans returning from the Second World War, helped Oklahoma to on-field success and eight of the team's new recruits eventually earned first-team All-America honors. The team improved from the previous season to an 8–3 record and a share of the Big Six Conference championship.
From 1947 to 1955, Jim Tatum served as the head coach of the Maryland Terrapins football team, which represented the University of Maryland in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college football. Maryland hired Tatum to replace Clark Shaughnessy after the 1946 season. Tatum had created both success and controversy during his one season as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners football team. During his nine-year tenure, Tatum became one of the most successful head football coaches in Maryland history, and the Terrapins compiled two national championships, three conference championships, and five bowl game appearances. His teams compiled a 73–15–4 record without a single losing season, and as of the end of 2016, he has the highest winning percentage of any Maryland football coach who coached at least seven games. In 1954, the University of Maryland appointed a new president, Dr. Wilson Elkins, who chose to de-emphasize football. Following the 1955 season, Tatum took a pay cut to coach at his alma mater, North Carolina, and he died four years later.
The 1950 Gator Bowl was the fifth edition of the Gator Bowl and featured the Maryland Terrapins representing the University of Maryland and the Missouri Tigers representing the University of Missouri. It was the first-ever meeting of the two teams.
The 1954 Orange Bowl was a postseason American college football bowl game between the first-ranked Maryland Terrapins and the fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. It was the twentieth edition of the Orange Bowl and took place at the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami, Florida on January 1, 1954.
The 1951 Maryland Terrapins football team represented the University of Maryland in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college football in its 31st season as a member of the Southern Conference. Maryland outscored its opponents, 381–74, and finished the season with a 10–0 record, including three shut outs, and held seven opponents to seven points or less. It was the school's first perfect undefeated and untied season since 1893. Maryland also secured its first berth in a major postseason bowl game, the 1952 Sugar Bowl, where it upset first-ranked Tennessee under head coach Robert Neyland.
The 2009 Bowling Green Falcons football team represented Bowling Green State University during the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football season. They were led by first-year head coach Dave Clawson and played in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference. They played their home games at Doyt Perry Stadium. They finished the season 7–6, 6–2 in MAC play to finish in third place in the East Division. They were invited to the Humanitarian Bowl where they lost to Idaho.
The 1949 Maryland Terrapins football team represented the University of Maryland in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college football in its 29th season as a member of the Southern Conference. Jim Tatum served as the head coach for the third season of his nine-year tenure. The team compiled a 9–1 record and received a bid to the 1950 Gator Bowl, where they defeated 20th-ranked Missouri, which was coached by Don Faurot, Tatum's former boss and the inventor of the split-T offense.
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Donald Adams Greenwood was an American football player and coach. He played professionally as a fullback and halfback for three seasons with the Cleveland Rams and Cleveland Browns in the National Football League (NFL) and All-America Football Conference (AAFC).
Bible, Dana X., Championship Football, Prentice-Hall, 1947.
Brown, Paul, and Clary, Jack, PB: The Paul Brown Story, Atheneum, 1979.
Faurot, Don Secrets of the "Split-T" Formation, Prentice-Hall, 1950.
Keith, Harold, Forty-Seven Straight: The Wilkinson Years at Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Press, 1984.