The Sporting News Magazine--the grand-daddy of all the sports magazines--has been running a series of articles in 2011 celebrating their 125th anniversary on "great sports debates." So far they have thrown into the argument the greatest teams of the NFL, NHL, NBA, college basketball, professional baseball, and now college football. Of course their choices for the "best" in each of these categories has not always matched up with their readers. To say the least, there have been quite a few arguments. The readers and Sporting News panel did agree once--both agreed that the 1927 New York Yankees were the best professional baseball team. Surprisingly the other categories had differences of opinion. The following were the selections:
- NFL: 1972 Miami Dolphins (SN), 1985 Chicago Bears (Readers)
- NHL: 1976-77 Montreal Canadians (SN), 2001-02 Detroit Redwings (Readers)
- College Basketball: 1966-67 UCLA Bruins (SN), 1973-74 North Carolina State (Readers)
- NBA: 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (SN), 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (Readers)
- Baseball: 1927 New York Yankees (SN and Readers)
I cannot make this stuff up. It is in glorious color in the most recent Sporting News Magazine this week. Here are the top ten all-time college football teams according to the magazine's expert panel (listed from first to tenth):
- 1971 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers
- 1972 University or Southern California Trojans
- 1974 University of Oklahoma Sooners
- 1995 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers
- 1956 University of Oklahoma Sooners
- 1968 Ohio University Buckeyes
- 1945 Army (West Point)
- 1961 University of Alabama Crimson Tide
- 2001 University of Miami Hurricanes
- 1987 University of Miami Hurricanes
We Big Red fans can't even agree which is the better team--1971 or 1995. Every Big Red fan's wildest pipe dream would be for the two teams to gather at Memorial Stadium and play to see who is truly the greatest Cornhusker of all time. Right now it is a coin flip in Nebraska. Ask any Big Red fan which team was better--1971 or 1995--and that fan would tell you, "Yep!" Both were pretty impressive.
The 1971 team was lead by the offensive duo of Jerry Tagge (quarterback) and Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers (I-Back). This team would place 17 players on the all Big Eight Conference's first team on offense and defense--there were only 22 slots. There were eight All-Americans on the team. Johnny Rodgers would eventually win the Heisman Trophy in 1972. The team was undefeated at 13 and 0, averaged 438 yards of offense a game, won by an average of 31 points a game, and had the nation's top defense. They won their second consecutive national championship with a 38 to 6 whipping of Alabama in the Orange Bowl. The team was coached by Bob Devaney with future head coach Tom Osborne as his offensive coordinator.
Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers
The 1995 was coached by Tom Osborne as it put on an impressive display of football prowlness. This team did not put up the post season award numbers that the 1971 team did, but it did put up some impressive numbers. The Cornhuskers led the nation in scoring, was second in total offense (number one in rushing with a 7.0 yard per carry average at 399.8 yards per game--second only to Army's 7.6 all-time record) with 556.3 yards per game as quarterback Tommy Frazier and freshman I-back Ahman Green led the team. Frazier would finish as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy that year. Green would set a freshman rushing record at Nebraska, and would have set a scoring record but was beat out by freshman kicker Josh Brown who set a Nebraska kicker record with 97 points. This team won their games by an average of 38 points a game while going for their second undefeated season. They trounced Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl 62 to 24 to win their second consecutive national championship.
The sad thing about the two teams is that we will never know which one really was the greatest team--at least in Nebraska. In the meantime the debate rages on and everyone has an opinion. At this time the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football team is 2 and 0--ranked tenth in the nation. A big test is coming up this weekend against the University of Washington Huskies. But, right now, Big Red Nation has bragging rights as having the greatest college football team ever!
Now I am sure that there are those of you who would disagree, and that is your right as a fan. Right now we in the Big Red Nation are not going to argue with the panel from The Sporting News. For once we agree with them! We didn't start this argument, but we will put in our two cents worth. In the meantime . . . we are number one!
What do you think?