High School Football About To Ban A-11 Offense?

Remember the brief hysteria surrounding the “A-11″ offense? Quick primer on it: football rules dictate that offensive linemen are ineligible to catch a pass on account of their position on the interior of the line and their jersey numbers. Football rules dictate that there must be five of these ineligible linemen on the line on every play… except punts, so teams can put faster tacklers on the field. The A-11 creators took this as a loophole, lined up in a “scrimmage kick” formation on every play, and essentially had 11 eligible receivers to work with. Once the team gets up to the ball, rules still dictate that five players be interior linemen (see: ineligible), but by not revealing who these players are until the snap, the coaches gain some sort of strategic advantage.

A-11 Illegal

The problem with this offense is that college and pro football immediately ensured that the offense was illegal by sealing off that loophole, restricting the offense to the high school level. There, its creators, Stan Humphries and Kurt Bryan, have enjoyed selling their offense at great profit to other coaches “success on and off the field.” But as Chris Brown of SMART FOOTBALL (the best Xs and Os website on the planet, bar none) reports, that might all be coming to an end very soon… and Bryan’s and Humphries’ collective sanity may be flying out the window right next to it:

These are only rumors, but the rumor-mill is that the high school football federation rules — which govern most but not all states (the others use NCAA-like rules) — have settled on changing the rule governing the “scrimmage kick exception” to conform with NCAA rules. […] It would mean that the A-11 offense, as currently used with extra eligible jersey wearing players lined up behind the line who then step up onto the line before the snap to disguise who is and who is not eligible, would be illegal in nearly every state and every level of football.

Emphasis ours. The lone holdout would be Delaware high school football, which utilizes Mutant League rules. Okay, that’s a lie.

Naturally, the creators of the offense, who have gone so far as to give it its own logo, are reportedly not taking this development very well. Again, all rumors until the results of the federation meetings are made public, but Brown tells us that if the offense is banned, we’re going to have ourselves a good, old-fashioned “THIS WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS OUT OF ORDER” (again, emphasis ours, because holy crap):

The word further is that this has not made the A-11’s creators, Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries, very happy. Their proposal so far has been to encourage individual schools who want to run the A-11 to break off from their state football leagues (making them ineligible for state playoffs) and form a kind of national, A-11 compatible league. The details of such a proposal are manifold, but teams from different states often play each other, but they agree on the rules in advance (for example, cut blocking is illegal in many states but legal in Texas and some others).

Seceding from the union! Right for 1861, right for today, I say.

This seems like a rather extreme overreaction, obviously, over a loophole being closed. While the A-11 is neat, it required a gross perversion of a poorly-worded rule to be legal. All the high school federation would be doing, after all, would be adding language like “obvious that a kick is about to be attempted” to their explanation of the, you know, scrimmage kick formation. It’s common sense.

And furthermore, these guys want these teams to give up their shots at playoffs so they can join a national league with exorbitant travel expenses where they can continue to take advantage of a loophole? Oof. You have to hand it to Humphries and Bryan: there’s no doubting their ambition or motive. No matter how many high school kids have to be taken out of contention for state playoffs, these guys want to GET THAT MONEY. Most con artists don’t have the courtesy to attach giant neon “STAY AWAY FROM ME I WILL RUIN THINGS” signs to themselves, so this honesty is refreshing.