IT'S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS, this business of selecting the cream of the college football crop, position by position, offense and defense and specialists, from the sport's earliest days right up to the 2008 BCS title game. For starters, the athletes who labored in the eras before free substitutions and platoons were playing a different game. And as if it weren't tough enough to compare players from vastly different eras, we made the job even tougher by limiting our selections to one player per school. Who, for instance, would you take from Illinois: Red Grange or Dick Butkus? Who from Alabama: Don Hutson or John Hannah or Lee Roy Jordan? Which USC tailback—if, indeed, you chose a Trojans tailback over Ronnie Lott or Ron Yary? Which Syracuse running back? Which Penn State linebacker? Do you tap Nebraska's fabled center Dave Rimington or the magical Johnny Rodgers? Fully aware of the minefield we were about to cross but nonetheless undaunted, we polled more than two dozen current and former SI football writers and editors, then tabulated their votes, argued among ourselves and made the final, painful cuts. The arguments will no doubt continue. But before considering any substitutions, feast your eyes on the group portrait painted by one of America's foremost illustrators and, only then, think about which guys you'd cut out of the picture to open up spots on a pretty fair football team.
EXCERPTED FROM THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOOK
SI's 296-page celebration, in words and pictures, on sale in bookstores nationwide and at si.com/collegefootballbook.
Mississippi Valley State 1981--84