Source: Boston Globe
The spread has been utilized in the college ranks for years, particularly in New England, where schools such as Holy Cross, Harvard, and New Hampshire used the up-tempo, high-scoring system to revitalize their programs. Local high school coaches, including Lamb, unsuccessfully tested out some of the schemes in the 1990s.
This was back when plays were drawn out by hand before being copied into playbooks, when researching radical new game plans took more than just an Internet connection. It was about keeping it simple and focusing on executing a small number of plays, not reinventing an offense.
But after the system gained popularity with high-profile colleges and concepts became easier to study with online play-sharing services such as Hudl, the system took off in the 2000s.