An offensive formation which is used to emphasize gaining yardage by means of running the football. In this formation, the offense uses three backs in addition to the quarterback. It is best used if the offense has a speedy, mobile quarterback.
Offensive formation with three running backs. A fullback lines up directly behind the quarterback and two halfbacks line up one yard behind and one yard to either side of the fullback. (The four members of the backfield make a shape resembling a wishbone.) The most common wishbone play is the triple option, in which, depending on what the defense does, the quarterback can hand the ball to the fullback, pitch the ball to the halfback, or keep it himself. Texas assistant coach Emory Bellard invented the wishbone in 1968, and it quickly spread throughout college football, with Oklahoma and Alabama having the most success among the teams that followed Texas's lead. Although the wishbone allowed teams to run successfully, it also made passing difficult, and so the wishbone never caught on in the NFL and is now rarely used at any level.