|This photoshop is as realistic as expecting a successful
Michigan run out of the I-formation.
Bill Barnwell writes at Grantland about David strategies and Goliath strategies. The purpose of David strategies is to increase the variance in the outcome when you clearly are at a disadvantage: a recent example of this is Jacksonville's risk-taking against Denver, which kept the game close for about a half. Spread offenses developed as David strategies - smaller teams developed ways to neutralize their size disadvantage through speed and misdirection.
MANBALL is essentially a synonym for Goliath strategy. Alabama can execute MANBALL. Stanford can execute MANBALL (provided they're not playing Utah). If you have superior athletes, you don't have to make clever play calls. If everyone executes the plays properly, you'll end up ahead. Low variance is what you want if you have the initial advantage.
What happens if we have pinnepedian, Whitlockian, patience? Suppose Michigan's great recruiting classes keep coming in and the players are coached up properly and the line play becomes effective. (Possibly next year, possibly the year after that.) Will MANBALL be effective then? Sure, it'll get you to nine wins, but, at some point, you'll be in the hole against Ohio State or Michigan State or Rutgers or against an SEC team in a - God forbid! - national semifinal. What then? That's when it's time to use a David strategy, break a tendency, take a risk. Maybe you'll lose big, but you'll give yourself a chance to come back and win a game that you should have lost. It's better than trying the same thing that stopped working again and again and again.
What's the ceiling of a MANBALL team with a coaching staff that shows no inability to get creative when things aren't going well? Maybe Michigan gets all the breaks in every game one year and wins it all. Most likely, it's back to the bad old days of 9-3 or 10-2 and perennial trips to central Florida.
Goliath strategies work against Indiana's defense. They don't work against Michigan State's. They apparently don't work against Nebraska's either. MANBALL always hits a brick wall eventually.
The Borges-O-Meter has finally reached Tlön, though not in the way we hoped. Setting incredible offensive records one week, then following it up - after a bye - with two astoundingly crappy performances. That's otherworldly. A Stygian otherworld is still an otherworld.