If you've spent any time on the board recently, you've seen part of the ad push for NCAA '13, the latest in EA's line of college football games. Unless you live under a rock, you know what the cover of that game looks like; it has our own Robert Griffin III on it with legendary RB Barry Sanders. On the right of this page right now should be a poll asking you about past Heisman runner-ups, all of them deserving, with yet another picture of RG3. Wearing the green and gold with BU on his helmet and BAYLOR emblazoned across his chest. It's gorgeous, really.
Here's a question, though. What if RG3 hadn't been our first Heisman winner? What if we'd had another player of similar transcendent talent in the past? If you could choose one of any past Heisman player to wear the green and gold and call Floyd Casey his home, which would it have been?
It's an interesting question, and NCAA '13 offers the chance to find out. As you've no doubt seen in the humorous commercial embedded below featuring Les Miles, the latest incarnation in EA's line gives you the opportunity to take any Heisman winner from past years and transplant him onto your favorite team. QB needy (at least recently) Texas fans can finally rectify Mack Brown's mistake and make RG3 a Longhorn. Fans of Ohio State can put aside their hatred for Michigan and realize their dreams of watching Eddie George rumble down the field for the Wolverines. And Baylor fans can choose any Heisman winner in the past and make him a Bear.
So who would I choose? Well it's funny you ask...
When I first considered this question the answer seemed obvious. For a program historically bereft of defense in the post-Singletary era, I instantly thought of taking someone from that side of the ball. There's only one problem: only one defense-only player has won the Heisman Trophy in the last 3 decades, Michigan's Charles Woodson. Not to say that Woodson didn't deserve the award-- his performance that year was incredible and absolutely worthy-- I reconsidered once I realized that in the entire scope of the award, given everyone available to choose from, I had to take a player at a more important position. Basically, I had to take a quarterback or a running back.
Having narrowed the field down somewhat, I then considered the era from which I would choose. Do I want to go more recent and take someone like Matt Leinart of USC (for entirely selfish reasons, actually, since he was at USC while I was at Baylor and I would have loved to watch him over the guys we ran out there to die in my time), Tim Tebow of Florida (personal feelings about his NFL skillset aside, of course), or my favorite player from NCAA 2003, Eric Crouch of Nebraska? Or did I want to go further back and try to change Baylor's history in a more long-lasting way...
I am on record as being firmly of the belief that when the Big 12 formed, Baylor was the best possible choice of the remaining schools to follow Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M to the new conference. I don't want to open Pandora's Box on that here, but that's my opinion. What happened immediately after we joined the conference, however, the years of scuffling leading to poor coaching choices leading to more scuffling, set the tone for basically our first two decades in the Big 12. Until very recently, ours have been rough years to say the least.
So if I could change anything, I would change that immediate period after we joined the conference. I would choose a program-altering talent that could have helped Baylor get off to a better start in the Big 12 in the hope that we could avoid the death spiral into college football irrelevance that followed. I would choose, in relatively controversial move considering his failures in the NFL and reliance on the system that spawned his numbers, Florida QB Danny Wuerffel.
Hear me out and look at his numbers. For his career at Florida, Wuerffel sported a 163.56 passing efficiency rating, the highest ever until very recently. He threw for 114 touchdowns, fifth-most all time. He led the Gators to two consecutive national championship games in '95 and '96, winning over Florida State in the 1996 Sugar Bowl. Sure, he was surrounded by talent we could not have matched in the same time period, but he was by any measure one of the best college QBs of all time. There is no doubt in my mind that with Wuerffel quarterbacking the Bears in 1996 we finish better than 4-7, Chuck Reedy doesn't get fired, and we never start the disastrous Dave Roberts-Kevin Steele eras. Reedy wasn't great by any stretch, but he was a far sight better than those that followed him, and firing him after only 4 years was one of the worst decisions ever made by The Powers that Be in our football program.
Maybe I'm overthinking this and the best choice is someone more recent. Maybe taking Ricky Williams from Texas fans would be sweeter than I'm thinking (although his drug use would have been more of an issue here than in Austin) or we start our renaissance even faster with Tim Tebow at the helm. Why don't you tell me?
In the meantime, look at these highlight videos from Wuerffel's time as a Gator and tell me, his NFL career notwithstanding, that you wouldn't have liked him as a Bear in the middle 90s.
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)