I know I'm a little late on this but I wanted to put my 2 cents in.
Training and technology have improved to such a degree that freshman starting in big games is more rule than exception.
As Dodd states:
This is a giant leap for preparation. Kids now are much more computer savvy. When I was in high school writing a term paper was done by hand writing the draft and then having my dads secretary type it up. Today kids have laptops and are writing their own web sites on Dreamweaver. So popping in a DVD to prepare for the big game takes little effort and it can be done at home.
Training has also improved. Strength and conditioning coaches prepare regimented workouts to suit an individual player. And just like the pros serious players train year round. That commitment can pay dividends when you are competing for a starting job.
Because of that commitment savvy coaches like Pete Carroll can use the carrot and stick approach with players he's trying to recruit. Freshman no longer roam the sidelines for a year or two waiting for a chance to play. If they are good enough they will start. These sorts of advancements lead to more productive and innovative offense schemes.
As HP writes:
He's right. In college and the pros coaches over the years have always tried to innovate new offenses in order to catch unsuspecting defenses off guard. The Wishbone, The Run-and-Shoot and The Spread were all developed to take advantage of the athletic ability of their players or to compensate for their lack there of. Of course as time moves on coaches find a way to defend these new offenses which breeds new innovation.
HP has a great thread here that discusses Barry Switzer and his use of the Wishbone. But more important is an extensive comment by a poster that sums up what Dodd and subsequently HP has been trying to get across.
What does this lead to? Winning and fast. When you couple technology, talent and innovation it's the perfect storm for success. Pete Carroll, as well as Stoops and Tressle, has obviously shown that this works. But I think another great example is Mack Brown. He re-tooled his offense to fit one person, Vince Young. Now VY is a special player that will do great things in the NFL. Coach Brown was smart enough to simplify the offense and let Vince work his magic. It didn't need to be complicated or intricate. And the results were immediate. Of course now that VY has left for the NFL we'll see how Coach Brown compensates with two freshman at the helm.
Defense will still win you championships, but it's almost worth saying why bother? To paraphrase the old Chicago voting motto: Score Early and Score Often.