RPOs are the latest toy in every offensive coordinator’s toy chest these days and Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, a College Football Hall of Fame linebacker, hates them, like all dogs naturally hate any advancements in the cat industry that tip the scales from canines to felines.
Asked about them on Tuesday, Fitzgerald compared them, jokingly, to communism.
“It’s communism,” he said. “RPO is the purest form of communism.”
Fitzgerald expanded on his line of thinking, explaining that RPOs allow offenses to bend the rules by getting linemen further down the field than they technically were allowed to and got away with it anyway. And, thus, they were bad.
“I don’t understand how offensive linemen can be downfield. It used to be when [an offensive lineman] tripped and fell down, it was illegal man downfield. Now if it’s just an uncovered lineman and you go 2.3 yards downfield, it’s not a penalty. But if you go three yards it is and nobody can see it until after the ball is thrown,” he said.
“It’s the rules. You can complain all you want. If I want to get it fixed I guess I can beg to get on the rules committee. It’s the most en vogue change, I think, in football. If you’re a purist of football, it’s not the game. It’s not. People downfield blocking and the ball being thrown should be illegal.”
Fitzgerald makes a good point, but any advantage afforded to opposing offensive linemen are by definition available to Northwestern’s linemen as well.
Considering that the Wildcats have ranked in the top 50 nationally in scoring once in the past decade (42nd in 2012) while placing 83rd or lower four times, and rank 111th in this young season, perhaps Fitzgerald should instruct his offensive staff to crack open some Karl Marx.