Monday, December 10, 2007

The 25 Greatest Players in College Football

ESPN has been counting down their top 25 college football players (presented by IBM) all year, and now although ESPN hasn't officially revealed the top two, I've been able to find the results.

1 Red Grange
2 Barry Sanders
3 Hershel Walker
4 Doak Walker
5 Sammy Baugh
6 Jim Thorpe
7 Tony Dorsett
8 Bo Jackson
9 Roger Staubach
10 Vince Young
11 Charles Woodson
12 Earl Campbell
13 Glenn Davis
14 Hugh Green
15 John Elway
16 Tom Harmon
17 Bronco Nagurski
18 Jim Brown
19 Dick Butkus
20 Charley Trippi
21 Archie Griffin
22 George Gipp
23 Johnny Rodgers
24 Reggie Bush
25 Ernie Nevers

This is a tough list to put together. In Heisman voting, you're comparing players across conferences, because no two teams play the same schedule, or even close to it. But you're also comparing players across eras, with different emphasis on the running or passing games, preparing for the NFL, or even (gasp!) education. At first blush, I'm most surprised about the omissions of, in order, Matt Leinart (finished 6th, 1st, and 3rd in Heisman voting in three seasons, 37-2 as starter), Ricky Williams (left Texas as all time D 1-A leader in rushing yards and TDs), and Marcus Allen (first college player over 2,000 yards rushing in season, with 2,342 in 1981). Less surprising is O.J. Simpson being left off the list, although he still holds the record for largest margin of victory in Heisman voting.

When ranking these guys, it seems like people were penalized for staying four years. Vince Young has one National Championship and zero Heismans in two seasons (although he may end up taking Reggie Bush's), and Leinart has one championship and one Heisman in three seasons. Young is 10th and Leinart is unranked. Barry Sanders was phenomenal, but he really only started for one season while Herschel Walker started for three, finishing in the top 3 in Heisman voting each season. Yet Sanders is ahead of Walker.

22 comments:

Christopher said...

Tommie Frazier getting skunked in this thing is ridiculous. Before him, there was never a guy who was MVP in two National Championship games. HOWEVER, he did it THREE straight years. What a joke that he's not on this thing.

Rorschach said...

I've gone back and forth on Frazier. On one hand you're right, but on the other hand he didn't win a Heisman. But before he got the starting job they crushed every year in their bowl, and he single handedly made them a more athletic squad.

Danny said...

Sure Vince didn't win a Heisman but he won the National Championship by himself. He was head and shoulders above any other player in college football. Linebackers couldn't tackle him, safeties couldn't catch him, and he could hit a double covered Sweed 50 yards down the field

Anonymous said...

Ron Dayne, the NCAA's leading rusher is not in the Top 25???...the guy that also won the Heisman and was MVP in the Rose Bowl in back to back years? Wow. That is a big miss...

Stan said...

Charles Woodson??!!!!

He was a mediocre receiver and pathetic punt returner (avg didn't make the NCAA top 50). As a DB he wasn't nearly as good as Champ Bailey, who played at the same time and actually played both ways. Yes, the dumbasses in the media voted him a Heisman. But looking at the record of Heisman voting, we shouldn't penalize him too much for that. He was weak on his own accord.

Woodson shouldn't be on a list of the top 500 players. You want some defensive players?

Lawrence Taylor, Cornelius Bennett, Deion Sanders, Merlin Olsen, Reggie White, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, LeRoy Selmon. Charles Woodson can't hold their jock straps.

How 'bout John Hannah, the greatest offensive lineman ever? Or Anthony Munoz? Dwight Stephenson?

Stan said...

Dayne's not in because he wasn't very good. Running for big yardage in the big Ten is not that big a deal.

Doug G. said...

I can't believe Ron Dayne was left off the list. He's the all-time leading rusher in NCAA history and a Heisman winner, plus Rose Bowl MVP trophy's.

Who are the boneheads that vote?

Ask the public how they vote after the final list is done...Then you'll see what REAL football people think.

dgard45 said...

Where's Ron Dayne? NCAA all-time leading rusher, Heisman winner, Rose Bowl MVP twice.

Poor, Poor, Poor voting!!!

lucky boy said...

Has anyone heard of Ron Dayne? HELLO!!!!!!!

L said...

I'm sorry, Red Grange is more legend than anything. Look at his numbers, you cannot put them in the same chapter, no, I mean book, no, I mean library, as Sanders...What Barry did at the college level can only be somewhat paralleled by Walker...imagine if he didn't sit for two years behind Thurman Thomas. Red Grange's number were not that great when you look at them.

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me how is O.J Simpson not on this list,because of something he did thirty years after he left college I'm no O.J fan but what he did on the football field is undeniable and that is what this list was about right not who was a model citizen thirty years later, Tommie Frazier definitely belongs in the top 10 it can be argued he was the best college football player of thr 1990s without question.

Anonymous said...

if you put glen davis (army) on the list, why you dont put doc blanchard (army) ? their in same level too !!!

Anonymous said...

Uk isn't my primary language, yet I can understand it while using google translator. Impressive article, keep them coming! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ricky Williams HAS to be on this list. It is ridiculous that he isn't. Definitely one of the greatest - and most athletically balanced - college RB's of all time...a later version of Bo and Herschel minus a step in the speed department, yet, Ricky had "football speed", especially for his size. Retroactively add Tebow just for his having the total package: leadership, ability, a winner, etc. I agree, Frazier was a stud. Desmond Howard was pretty damn good. Take Woodson off, and put Howard on! Bush DOES deserve to be on there; dude was one of the most talented and dominant all-purpose players EVER. O.J. Simpson and Marcus Allen should be on there too. Not sure about Barry being ranked at #2...put him on, but #2?

Anonymous said...

...And Cam Newton will forever be remembered as one of the greatest College Football players ever. What he did in one year in the SEC was just amazing; more than most could achieve in four years in a lesser conference. Undefeated, Heisman, National Championship, astronomical records w/o sacrificing WINNING, etc....prior to that he took a junior college (Blinn JC-TX) team to a National Championship game. Say what you will, but I think the guy should be on the list. Like, VY, Cam was an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, type of athlete. Cam should be on there-no question!

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