Posted by Doug on November 17, 2008
First a plug: if you're an NBA fan, you should check out what Neil Paine (with assists from Justin Kubatko) has been doing with the basketball-reference.com blog. It's good hoops-related reading in the same spirit as this blog.
Neil recently did a couple of posts on which colleges have produced the most NBA talent. Inspired by that, and my NFL all-franchise team posts (AFC - NFC) from this summer, I've decided to create a "team" from the talent produced by each college, and rank them.
The rules are essentially the same as those for the NFL all-franchise team posts, but with a few college-related extras added:
1. If you haven't read about my Approximate Value (AV) method for rating players, you should read about it right here.
2. A player is only eligible to play for his final college, if he attended more than one. For example, Troy Aikman can be on the UCLA team, but not the Oklahoma team.
3. Keep in mind that these lists are ordered by NFL production. Archie Griffin was one of the best college football players of all time, but he loses his spot on the Ohio State team to the merely-very-good-in-college Robert Smith, who had a much more illustrious NFL career.
4. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.
5. I’m only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to seasons 1950 and later. Players who debuted before 1950, however, are included if their post-1950 seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a ‘+’ after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.
6. To avoid 4-3/3-4/5-2 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs. I have also now lumped all safeties together instead of distinguishing between free and strong safeties.
7. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RB/FBs, instead of an RB and an FB.
8. What to do with players whose position was "End" in the 50s. Are they tight ends? Wide receivers? To deal with this problem, I've lumped TEs, WRs, and Es of all years into one category, which I've called 'RC' (ReCeiver), and I'm allowing four of them per team. After all, if the defense is playing with 12, I should allow the offense the same luxury.
With all that out of the way, here are the top ten colleges, ranked by the sum of the values of their 24 players:
#1 - USC
QB Bill Nelsen 53 RB Marcus Allen 103 RB O.J. Simpson 96 RC Keyshawn Johnson 79 RC Johnnie Morton 68 RC Charle Young 63 RC Lynn Swann 61 T Anthony Munoz 137 T Ron Yary 118 G Bruce Matthews 120 G Roy Foster 60 C Don Mosebar 53 DT Darrell Russell 44 DT Volney Peters 41 DE Willie McGinest 76 DE Ed Henke 50+ ILB Jack Del Rio 53 ILB Riki Ellison 51 OLB Junior Seau 127 OLB Clay Matthews 93 CB Don Doll 41+ CB Jason Sehorn 38 S Ronnie Lott 117 S Willie Wood 115
Comparatively speaking, this team is surprisingly thin on the defensive front, and their passing game is way behind some others, but how about that offensive line and running back duo? Carson Palmer is just a few points behind Nelsen as the QB. Backup OLBs Rod Martin and Chip Banks both have higher AVs than the starting ILBs.
#2 - Notre Dame
QB Joe Montana 123 RB Ricky Watters 102 RB Jerome Bettis 79 RC Tim Brown 104 RC Dave Casper 75 RC Jack Snow 59 RC Mark Bavaro 55 T George Kunz 97 T George Connor 72+ G Bob Kuechenberg 77 G Tom Thayer 41 C Dick Szymanski 64 DT Alan Page 157 DT Bryant Young 92 DE Renaldo Wynn 54 DE Ross Browner 52 ILB Nick Buoniconti 103 ILB Myron Pottios 75 OLB Jim Lynch 73 OLB Jim Martin 41 CB Dave Waymer 68 CB Todd Lyght 60 S Dave Duerson 61 S Pat Terrell 30
Not much to comment on here; a solid team and balanced team with perhaps the best quarterback in the "league." Some might argue for Paul Hornung over Bettis or Watters.
#3 - Miami (FL)
QB Jim Kelly 102 RB Edgerrin James 110 RB Chuck Foreman 81 RC Michael Irvin 105 RC Reggie Wayne 75 RC Brett Perriman 61 RC Brian Blades 58 T Leon Searcy 52 T Bryant McKinnie 39 G Dennis Harrah 66 G Jim Simon 11 C Jim Otto 99 DT Warren Sapp 117 DT Cortez Kennedy 98 DE Eddie Edwards 61 DE Kenard Lang 53 ILB Ray Lewis 123 ILB Dan Conners 72 OLB Ted Hendricks 117 OLB Jessie Armstead 78 CB Ryan McNeil 50 CB Ronnie Lippett 43 S Ed Reed 61 S Darryl Williams 52
Foreman edged out Ottis Anderson by a nose, but Clinton Portis should pass them both by the end of 2009. Eddie Brown was actually tied with Blades for the last receiver slot, but it'll be moot in a couple of years with Santana Moss and Andre Johnson moving up into the third and fourth slots. Offensive line is a relative weakness, with only the veteran presence of Jim Otto providing some respectability.
Very stout defense in general, with the interior of the front seven being a particular strength. Perhaps Rubin Carter could be dangled in the trade market to acquire some help on the offensive line.
#4 - Tennessee
QB Peyton Manning 136 RB Charlie Garner 72 RB Jamal Lewis 63 RC Stanley Morgan 81 RC Anthony Miller 74 RC Carl Pickens 55 RC Willie Gault 55 T Tim Irwin 69 T Chad Clifton 50 G Jack Stroud 58 G John Gordy 56 C Bob Johnson 57 DT John Henderson 55 DT Dick Evey 41 DE Reggie White 163 DE Doug Atkins 119 ILB Jack Reynolds 84 ILB Al Wilson 66 OLB Mike Stratton 73 OLB Paul Naumoff 71 CB Terry McDaniel 70 CB Dale Carter 68 S Roland James 48 S Deon Grant 46
This team has arguably the best offensive player and the best defensive player in NFL history. And it's got no glaring weaknesses.
Jason Witten will probably crack the starting lineup at the end of this season.
#5 - Ohio St.
QB Mike Tomczak 44 RB Eddie George 76 RB Robert Smith 61 RC Cris Carter 98 RC Paul Warfield 94 RC Joey Galloway 77 RC Terry Glenn 66 T Jim Parker 101 T Lou Groza 99+ G Doug Van Horn 54 G William Roberts 52 C Kirk Lowdermilk 49 DT Bill Willis 65+ DT Dan Wilkinson 58 DE Jim Marshall 106 DE Keith Ferguson 39 ILB Randy Gradishar 92 ILB Pepper Johnson 75 OLB Stan White 66 OLB Jim Houston 66 CB Dick LeBeau 82 CB Shawn Springs 56 S Jack Tatum 65 S Tim Fox 53
The Buckeyes would look a little stronger if they were allowed to move Dick Schafrath, Orlando Pace, and Jim Tyrer to guard and/or center. That's 13 first-team all-pro selections riding the pine at the tackle position. Quarterback is a problem.
#6 - Pittsburgh
QB Dan Marino 146 RB Tony Dorsett 106 RB Curtis Martin 101 RC Mike Ditka 79 RC Dave Moore 36 RC Larry Fitzgerald 33 RC Joe Walton 31 T Jimbo Covert 58 T Jim McCusker 30 G Ruben Brown 71 G Russ Grimm 63 C Mark Stepnoski 69 DT Keith Hamilton 72 DT Tony Siragusa 57 DE Chris Doleman 114 DE Bill McPeak 63+ ILB Joe Schmidt 119 ILB Jerry Olsavsky 21 OLB Rickey Jackson 110 OLB John Reger 75 CB Ed Sharockman 65 CB J.C. Wilson 25 S Carlton Williamson 38 S Paul Martha 30
If Marino goes down to injury, Matt Cavanaugh is the quarterback. Antonio Bryant will break into this lineup at the end of this season, and that's not a good thing. But there are obvious strengths on this team, and the depth at some positions is surprising. Bill Fralic, Mark May, Jim Sweeney, and Jeff Christy are four very good backup offensive linemen.
#7 - Penn St.
QB Kerry Collins 75 RB Franco Harris 101 RB Lenny Moore 95 RC Mickey Shuler 58 RC Bobby Engram 51 RC Kyle Brady 44 RC O.J. McDuffie 43 T Ron R. Heller 61 T Brad Benson 53 G Steve Wisniewski 90 G Mike Munchak 84 C Tom Rafferty 65 DT Rosey Grier 89 DT Dave Rowe 51 DE Mike Hartenstine 71 DE Bruce Clark 44 ILB Matt Millen 66 ILB Shane Conlan 61 OLB Jack Ham 119 OLB Dave Robinson 90 CB David Macklin 29 CB Paul Lankford 27 S Mike Zordich 48 S Darren Perry 43
Lydell Mitchell was six points behind Moore for the second RB slot. Like their in-state rivals, this team has great running backs, good offensive line depth (Dave Szott, Marco Rivera, Jeff Hartings), and a weak secondary.
#8 - Michigan
QB Tom Brady 91 RB Ron A. Johnson 58 RB Leroy Hoard 43 RC Elroy Hirsch 72+ RC Amani Toomer 63 RC Anthony Carter 62 RC Derrick Alexander 56 RC Ron Kramer 50 T Mike Kenn 100 T Dan Dierdorf 86 G Tom Mack 91 G Reggie McKenzie 66 C John Morrow 60 DT Tom Keating 51 DT Dave Gallagher 27 DE Len Ford 99+ DE Curtis Greer 38 ILB Frank Nunley 49 ILB Larry Foote 34 OLB John Anderson 59 OLB Ian Gold 44 CB Ty Law 83 CB Dave Brown 73 S Rick Volk 77 S Randy Logan 68
Tom Brady and a very solid line make for a good offense despite a relative lack of superstar power at running back and receiver.
The defensive front seven is weak with the exception of Hall of Famer Len Ford, but the secondary is strong. Charles Woodson could be dealt for some help up front.
#9 - Syracuse
QB Donovan McNabb 87 RB Jim Brown 105 RB Larry Csonka 71 RC Marvin Harrison 121 RC Art Monk 93 RC John Mackey 77 RC Rob Moore 62 T Stan Walters 67 T John Brown 33 G Walt Sweeney 83 G Dave Lapham 46 C Jim Ringo 112 DT Ken Clarke 55 DT Art Thoms 42 DE Rob Burnett 81 DE Dwight Freeney 49 ILB Jim Cheyunski 41 ILB Jim Collins 40 OLB Keith Bulluck 56 OLB Terry Wooden 48 CB Will Allen 39 CB Carl Karilivacz 35 S Tom Myers 49 S Donovin Darius 45
I'm not sure the Orange don't have the best offense in this league. For now, the defense looks very unimpressive, but Bulluck and Freeney are working on it.
Floyd Little was tied with Csonka for the second RB slot.
QB Fran Tarkenton 138 RB Herschel Walker 79 RB Terrell Davis 73 RC Hines Ward 72 RC Jimmy Orr 66 RC Bobby Walston 54 RC Randy McMichael 36 T Mike W. Wilson 70 T Adam Meadows 46 G Guy McIntyre 63 G Pete Case 39 C Len Hauss 80 DT Marcus Stroud 51 DT Marion Campbell 49 DE Bill Stanfill 77 DE Richard Seymour 69 ILB Randall Godfrey 69 ILB Dave Lloyd 47 OLB Mo Lewis 88 OLB Boss Bailey 20 CB Champ Bailey 94 CB Art DeCarlo 19 S Jake Scott 89 S Terry Hoage 31
Later in the week, we'll look at some other surprisingly good (and bad) teams. Then we'll break it down by position. Which colleges produce the best quarterbacks? Running backs? Linebackers? etc.