Thursday, September 25, 2008

The greatest of the great, redux

18 months ago, I started a project to name the All-time ASU football team. I received some great feedback from fans, and got in touch with some past players who provided invaluable insight. The project stalled for two reasons: mostly, I got distracted by work, but also, the selections proved far more difficult than I ever anticipated.

I don't want to quit, so the project is back on my front burner. But I need assistance.

First, a recap of the rules (which I set for myself): most importantly, this will be a true team, with the right number of players at each position. That means one halfback and one fullback for example. I'm not going to cheat like the NFL did when they named four quarterbacks to their 75th Anniversay All-Time team. This defeats the entire purpose: it's easy to say that Baugh, Graham, Unitas and Montana were all great; it's a lot harder to say which of them was the very best.

Players will be evaluated based on their college career, not their pro performance, and extended careers will carry more weight. So while Derrick Rodgers' performance in '96 was one of the great single seasons in Sun Devil history, it's not enough for him to make the team. Players will be judged at the position they played in college, not the pros, so Darren Woodson will have to make it as an OLB, not a SS. Football performance will also outweigh off-field contributions or all-around popularity, so while Pat Tillman was without doubt one of the greatest men ever to wear a Sun Devil uniform, he wasn't necessarily one of the two best OLBs in ASU history.

Realistically, only players from the WAC era and beyond will be considered (that's 1962 onwards). It is almost impossible to fairly evaluate players from the Border Conference days, although please let me know if you feel strongly about anyone excluded.

Some positions are relatively simple; others are very difficult. I already named the two cornerbacks: Mike Haynes and Eric Allen. Just 20 more to go. Please send me an e-mail with your suggestions or post comments to this article.


Echo from the Buttes said...

The most interesting head-to-head positional battle will be Danny White vs. Jake Plummer. Many old timers will favor White, and rightfully so. But any of those under 35 or 40 who was in the stadium for the Nebraska game have built their love of Sun Devil athletics around that moment. So which way are you leaning on that one? You've got quite a challenge ahead of you!

05 Devil said...

As for the QB debate, I think you have to go with Plummer because his Senior season was the most dominating of any ASU QB, even though Danny had the better overall career at ASU. I get your point about weighing these, so maybe you prefer the overall career of White.

Mike Haynes has to be the top running back.

I think you've devalued Tillman's on-field performance because his fame came from his service to the country. Tillman was one of the most honored Sun Devils before any of that. He was All-Pac10 and he led the defense. He is clearly one of the best all-time.

Don't forget Adam Archuleta either.

And you could look at guys like Mario Bates, who had all the talent in the world, but did nothing with it. I would look at the players who accomplished the most...which again is why I go with Jake.

Sun Devil said...

I suck with my editing.

WOODY GREEN has to be the top RB

MIKE HAYNES has to be the top CB


phillydevil said...

The only two selections I have formally announced so far are the cornerbacks, where Mike Haynes and Eric Allen were pretty simple picks.

I don't want to tip my hat too much regarding QB, but let me just throw out one stat that is dominant in my thoughts: Jake was just 0-1 in Bowl Games for his career.

As far as Tillman and Archuleta are concerned, linebacker is one of the hardest positions of all, maybe THE hardest. Feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to take a crack at coming up with just three LBs from our illustrious history.

Anonymous said...

While Eric Allen was a fine selection. I am not that certain that he was better than Anthony Parker.

White is clearly the QB. He lost only 3 games in his career.