The Changing ways of calling plays

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Can a loss get any tougher to stomach than the last second defeat to then No. 13 Purdue on Saturday? It would be hard to convince the Badger players and coaching staff for sure. But there's something else gnawing at my stomach as I watch college football each weekend.


Aside from the excitement and then heartbreak of Saturday's loss, something struck me very funny about how the game of football has advanced. 


Back in the olden days, pre-1970, quarterbacks were call field generals, and for obvious reasons. They were expected to call all the plays for the offense during the games. With the most famous exception of the rotating guard system employed by the legendary Paul Brown, the "field generals" handled the play-by-play selection responsibilities in the huddle.


Then in the '70s things began to change.  Maybe it was the mind-altering drugs of the sixties kicking into effect or just head coaches deciding that multi-tasking needed to be applied to play calling. Whatever the reason it started out with simple rotation of wide receivers, running backs and so forth into and out of the huddle, just beating the play clock and irritating thousands of fans who were sure a flag would be thrown for delay of game.


That simple rotation system then developed into an intricate system of hand signals and body gyrations intended to communicate the next play to the former field general. Heck, it's even being used for the defense now.


From the Badger-Boilermaker game it became obvious to me that the field generals have been relegated to imitating TV-Land animal stars. It was obvious, watching Orton, Sorgi, and Schabert continuously imitating Mr. Ed and his earlier ancestors, Trigger and Silver, by lifting up their left leg with every play. 


Sometimes there were two or three leg lifts! I was beginning to think they were doing the multiplication tables or maybe they had a charley horse in that leg! 


On the other hand, judging from Kyle Orton's performance completing thirty-eight of fifty-five passes he may be the exception to animal-imitation theory.  In fact he can probably do whatever he cares to, since he found more open seams in the Badger secondary than a bargain hunter at a second-hand clothing store.


Personally I think it would be easier to hire an airport employee who directs the 747s into taxi position with his cute little orange glowsticks to direct the players with each offensive play. Or maybe just get Dick Van Dyke's next door neighbors, Jerry and Millie, who have never lost a game of charades, to pass the signals out to the field.

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