And here we go again, with round 2 of my exhaustive effort to find the greatest player for every single BCS conference. This time, stopping at the conference that is more known for hoops than football, the Big East.
Before we go any further, a few ground rules need to be laid out again. Firstly, this is a list where college and pro performance factor in. As you will see later, this then means that Tom Brady is not the choice because Tom could not start at my erstwhile Alma Mater over the man, the myth, the legend, Drew Henson. So what i’m trying to do, in essence, is reward dudes who did it on every level. You hear me?
On Every Level.
Also, and this is particularly important in this list, these are the conferences based on their makeup as of the start of this season. So while I would love nothing more than to have TCU in this conference right now to help me get some depth up in here I can’t do it. It’d be like cheating.
Let’s get down to business.
Cincinnati: Geezus. I mean, geezus. This is bad. I’m discovering every conference is going to have that one weird school in it that hasn’t produced a lot of NFL-ready players. But this one is especially bad if only because they have contributed really good talent in a lot of other areas. Hoops? How does Oscar Robertson, Jack Twyman, Nick Van Exel, Danny Fortson, and Kenyon Martin sound? Baseball? Sandy Koufax, and Kevin Youkilis. But on the gridiron? I gotta ride with Brent Celek. He’s good. But I get the feeling two things are going to happen. A: He’s probably going to be almost as good as the next dude o this list. B: Cincy is going to be doing a lot more damage on this list in the future. I have a feeling.
Connecticut: And here we go again. This is like someone messing with me a little bit. Before we get to the big programs, I have to slough through this. Ah well, it could be worse. I could be having to find the all-time greatest Utah State Aggie (Merlin Olsen). But much like the program before me, UConn is very much getting to a place in its life where it has the chance to build something. It’s had a few players drafted. It’s on the come. Donald Brown is proof of that. Starting running back for the Indianapolis Colts. He’s got a chance to be a not-terrible running back.
Louisville: And now we get to the “Good Lord Is This Ever Going to Be Easy” program, the first of three of them. Look, I love Tom Jackson. I enjoy the work of Deion Branch too. But come on man. There’s one right answer here. Johnny Unitas. Mr. Colt. The OG of OG’s.
Pittsburgh: And here comes another easy one. Look if you asked any serious Pitt Panthers fan who the best dude who ever played for their program was, they’d give you one answer. That answer is…. Tony Dorsett! What, you were expecting Dan Marino? Maybe Bill Fralic? Or Ironhead Heyward? No. Tony is the only player in history who has won the Heisman Trophy, won the Super Bowl, won the College National Championship, enshrined in the College Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall Of Fame as well. In addition, he was a three-time All-American. Tony Friggin Dorsett everyone.
Rutgers: Ray Rice. Look, the Big East is a desert with a few oasis’s like Pittsburgh and the program that follows this one. But unlike Cincinnati and UConn, where there’s nothing, at least here I have some prospects. But still, Ray Rice is a better prospect than most. And who knows? Maybe Dude will someday become the start of something.
Syracuse: And this is another one. Look, I like the work of Dwight Freeney, Donovan McNabb, Larry Csonka, and others. But if you can’t figure out who the all-time greatest player to rep the ‘Cuse is, I can’t help you.
West Virginia: Sam Huff. Despite strong competition from a punter (Todd Sauerbrun), a WR (the late Chris Henry), and a QB (Marc Bulger), this is really Sam Huff’s award. And, like a lot of things, I will be all too happy to give it to him.