Saturday, August 6, 2011

The greatest of the great unveiled

Originally published 8/12/10

In the build up to the new football season, I will be naming my All-time ASU team. I will announce the team in a series of articles, position-by-position. Since I started this process a few years ago, I have received some great feedback from fans, and got in touch with some past players who provided invaluable insight. Many of the selections proved far more difficult than I ever anticipated. In the end, I had to make some tough decisions, so if I did not pick your favorite player that does not mean that I ignored your input.

I imposed the following rules on myself:

(1) 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 Anniversary All-Time team. This defeats the entire purpose: it's easy to say that Baugh, Graham, Montana and Unitas were all great; it's a lot harder to say which of them was the very best.

(2) The defense will be a 4-3. During much of the Kush era the defense was a 5-2, which is effectively a 3-4 in modern parlance. In the 80's and 90's the 4-3 was the dominant formation.

(3) 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.

(4) Players will be evaluated based on their college career, not their pro performance. For example, Jerry Smith was a great tight end for the Redskins, but it's his time at ASU that counts.

(5) Players will be judged at the position they played in college, not the pros, so Darren Woodson gets judged as an outside linebacker, not a safety.

(6) Football performance will also outweigh off-field contributions or all-around popularity. Nathan LaDuke was a fan favorite on an otherwise horrible team, but he wasn't necessarily one of the two best safeties in ASU history. Charley Taylor's historic contribution in breaking the color barrier for the Redskins doesn't influence his inclusion on this team.

(7) 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.

(8) Individual honors carry a lot of weight, but do not make selections automatic. Multiple All-Americas (Woody Green, Mike Richardson and David Fulcher) and Hall of Fame inductees (Mike Haynes, John Jefferson, Randall McDaniel, Ron Pritchard, Pat Tillman and Danny White) are virtual locks.

Most importantly, this is "my" team. I feel comfortable that each of the selections I have made are the best at their respective positions, but in most cases there were at least two or three other candidates that deserved careful consideration.

No comments: