With the NFL Draft looming, I found a list courtesy of the NFL Network featuring the schools consider to be the Top Ten Football Factories. We here at Dubsism took that list and crossed it against each schools three arguably most interesting players. Be mindful of the fact this list was devised and ordered by the NFL Network and not us, which is why before you write us nasty letters about it, wait for our comments at the end so you can be REALLY pissed when you comment.
Their Top Three – Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Doug Atkins
Those are three top-flight hall-of-famers, and that’s only part of the reason why Tennessee belongs on this list. In terms of college football, Tennessee has a long history; the Volunteers were the power of the SEC before Bear Bryant and Alabama. Of course, recent history hasn’t been kind to the Vols, and that’s just fine with me, since Tenneesee still grinds my gears.
9) The Mid-America Conference (MAC)
Their Top Three – Jack Lambert, Ben Roethlisberger, Randy Moss
Honestly, this entry caused the most discussion amongst the staff here at Dubsism; at least no punches were thrown this time, but suffice it to say there are several staffers here who fervently believe it is wrong to include an entire conference. In defense of the MAC, that’s a pretty solid Top Three as compared to some of the others on this list. I would like to believe the MAC is here to represent the contributions of all small schools, but more importantly, look at what those three represent – a toothless psychopath, a multi-ringed “may-be” rapist, and complete douchebag.
8 ) Syracuse
Their Top Three – Jim Brown, John Mackey, Donovan McNabb
This is just the saddest story on this list; the classic case of how the mighty have fallen. In my lifetime, I’ve watched the Orange go from the pride of eastern football to a team that can barely stay afloat in the weakest big conference in football. I blame it all on Dick MacPherson, their Hall-of-Fame coach who steadily built the Orangemen into an Eastern football power. One of SU’s most stunning wins during MacPherson’s tenure came in 1984 when the Orangemen upset then No. 1 Nebraska, 17-9. MacPherson later bolted from the Orange, trying to parlay his success in college into a career in the NFL, but his two years stint with the New England Patriots..well, let’s just say calling it an “abject failure” is being kind. Sadly, the Orange have been rancid ever since.
7) Penn State
Their Top Three – Jack Ham, Lenny Moore, John Cappelletti
This is another case of a school getting its coach hired away by the New England Patriots. Back in 1972, the Patriots offered Joe Paterno a contract which have made him football’s first million-dollar coach, a contract which JoePa accepted. However, his tenure as an NFL coach lasted less than 12 hours; the morning after signing the deal, Paterno called the Patriots to tell them the deal was off. Had Paterno left, it is a certainty the Nittany Lions would have languished at the bottom of college football for decades; just look at what happened to Syracuse. Hell, it could have been worse, look at what happened to SMU when Ron Meyer left for New England.
Their Top Three – Joe Namath, John Hannah, Derrick Thomas
Given their history, there is not anybody young or old who didn’t picture this team on this list. And why not? Alabama has always paid as well, if not better than any NFL franchise.
Their Top Three – Dan Dierdorf, Tom Brady, President Gerald Ford
There’s only three other schools that have produced both a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a U.S. President – Navy (Roger Staubach/Jimmy Carter), Stanford (John Elway & Jim Plunkett/Herbert Hoover), and Miami of Ohio (Ben Roethislberger/Benjamin Harrison), but Michigan is the only one whose quarterback has won the Super Bowl three times (Tom Brady) and whose President was also an All-American offensive lineman. Despite that, Michigan also grinds my gears.
4) Ohio State
Their Top Three – Jim Parker, Paul Warfield, Cris Carter
Another school with long history, and a new problem. Nobody can deny Ohio State has pumped hundreds of players into the NFL, but given the stuff swirling around the football program these days, one starts wondering how many hundreds are going to be pumped into the pockets of defense attorneys and bail bondsmen in the near future. Given that, it shouldn’t shock anybody the effect Ohio State has on my gears.
3) Notre Dame
Their Top Three – Joe Montana, Paul Hornung, Alan Page
Now, Notre Dame is a team that produces more corpses with scissor-lifts and sexual assault reports than it does NFL talent, but let’s not forget this list is historically all-inclusive. The way things look in south Bend now, it is feasible the Fighting Irish could be moving down this list over time; Notre Dame doesn’t look to be a top-flight program anytime soon.
2) Miami, FL
Their Top Three – Jim Kelly, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin
If Notre Dame represents the oldest of history, Miami is the other side of the college football coin; the Hurricanes were hardly a breeze until the 1980’s. But in that time they have produced an astonishing amount of talent. But they also spent most of the 80’s being completely hateable, leading to one of my favorite moments in all of college football – Pete Giftopoulous’ interception at the end of the 4th quarter of the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, giving Penn State the national championship over Miami.
1) Southern Cal
Their Top Three – Ronnie Lott, Bruce Matthews, O.J. Simpson
In most cities with multiple professional sports franchises, there’s a “pecking order” in terms who gets fan support no matter what; the team which is always in the spotlight. In New York, the top of the food chain is inhabited by the Yankees and the Knicks. In Chicago, that honor belongs to the Cubs and the Bears. In Los Angeles, its the Lakers and USC. Make no mistake, the Trojans are every bit a professional franchise; they’ve got the NCAA sanctions to prove it. Long before that, there’s reason I called them them U$¢ (The University of Dollars and Cents).
The thing that really struck the staff here at Dubsism was not the teams on the list (other than that whole MAC thing), but some of the teams not on it.
Texas – Their Top Three – Earl Campbell, Bobby Layne, Tommy Nobis
Their exclusion has to be because for close to 25 years after the Darrell Royal era, for the most part Texas became an afterthought on the national landscape.
Oklahoma – Their Top Three – Lee Roy Selmon, Billy Sims, Tommy McDonald
The Sooners got left off the list for two words – Brian Bosworth.
Purdue – Their Top Three – Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Drew Brees
Ok, I know this one is a stretch, but I would put
West Lafayette Vo-Tech Purdue on the list over an entire conference just on quarterbacks alone. Alabama is the only other school that has produced three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler) and the three produced by Purdue are to a man better quarterbacks than the three coming from the Tide. Then there’s all the other legit NFL quarterbacks this school has produced other than the ones already mentioned – Gary Danielson, Bob DeMoss, Jim Everett, Jeff George (transferred/got kicked out to Illinois), Mark Herrmann, Mike Phipps, and the Greatest Athlete in the History of Ever, Kyle Orton.
Grambling – Their Top Three – Everson Walls, Doug Williams, Charlie Joiner
Eddie Robinson produced so much NFL talent – a list of the players he prepared for NFL success reads like a list of guys you forgot about, but when you read the list, its a never-ending parade of “how the hell did I forget that guy!” Look past the three we already mentioned – there’s still Buck Buchanan, Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd, Sammy White, Trumaine Johnson, James Harris, Willie Brown, Willie Davis, “Tank” Younger, and 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.
Football fans love a big, bruising runner; as a football fan, I’m no different. But I’m also a train geek, and I couldn’t help but notice that people love to use train-related terms when referring to the big bruisers. So, in my twisted mind, it makes perfect sense to compare the great big bruisers to the great locomotives. The beauty is since this is such a pure premise, I really don’t need to waste time writing a big, fluffy, largely bullshit introduction. Having said that…
10) Jim Taylor: Mikado “2-8-2″
If the Mikado 2-8-2 had been a computer, it would have been an IBM clone. If it had been a car, it would have been a VW Beetle; the original, not those bullshit “MacPherson strut, curved windshield” post-1974 “Super Beetles” or those catalytic-converter equipped chick-mobiles we see now. The bottom line is that for the longest time, this locomotive was the primary freight mover in North America; a total of 9,500 having been built for service in the United States, plus 97 that served on the Canadian National and another 253 that bore Canadian Pacific service markings. Even Nacionales de Mexico purchased many 2-8-2s; they had 40 models with the 57-inch driver wheels locomotives in 1921.
Regardless of the ancestry, the 2-8-2 became the principal freight locomotive in North America; much like the buzz-cut offensive “hand-grenade” became the trend in the NFL. Sure, the Packers had Jim Taylor, but in short order every team in the league featured guys like Bill “Boom Boom” Brown or Hugh McIlhenny. Hell, they weren’t even limited to offense, as there were plenty of bristle-headed psychopaths like Dick Butkus who completely fit the model. If it weren’t for the horrors of male pattern baldness, Green Bay’s own Ray Nitschke would be on this list.
9) Christian Okoye: Union Pacific “Big Boy 4-8-8-4″
The “Big Boys” were the only locomotives to have the 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, combining two sets of eight driving wheels with both a four-wheel leading truck for stability entering curves and a four-wheel trailing truck to support the large firebox. This also explains Okoye’s configuration; while humans are limited to two “driving wheels,” Okoye rolled like he had multiple sets. The “Big Boys” were specifically designed to pull a 3,600 ton freight train over the long 1.14% grade of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Christian Okoye was drafted to plow through the defenses of the AFC West.
Before the arrival of the “Big Boy,” Union Pacific freighters needed helpers to cross this mountain range. Before the arrival of “The Nigerian Nightmare,” the Chiefs needed help just getting first downs. For such a plodding power unit to be worthwhile, it had to be faster and more powerful than the lugs that preceded them. Both Okoye and the “Big Boy” were built with a heavy margin of reliability and safety in mind; they both normally operated well below their optimal speed, rather they operated for optimal optimal tractive effort, which occured at about 10 mph. Despite the lack of speed, they both generated unstoppable momentum.
8 ) Bronko Nagurski: Electro-Motive Division “DDA40-X”
The EMD DDA40-X was a 6,600 horsepower behemoth which still remains as the longest single-unit diesel locomotive ever built. It also remains the most powerful single-unit diesel locomotive ever built. Engineers actually feared operating this unit, much like defenses feared the legendary strength of Nagurski. Tales of yore of his super-human strength say that Michigan was a contiguous state until Nagurski ripped it in half; that he once used nothing more than his jaw to halve a sapling tree, and that he once watched two Julia Roberts movies back-to-back without killing himself.
7) Larry Csonka: Pennsylvania Railroad “GG-1″
At least Marion Motley made it honest; he wore an offensive lineman’s number. Larry Csonka was a line-smashing fullback who was bigger than many of the lineman in front of him. Csonka was like a dynamo driving the Miami Dolphins’ dominating ball-control offense, much like the 770,000-pound GG-1 dominated passenger routes on the Northeast Corridor.
6) Jerome Bettis: Electro-Motive Division ” F7-A”
The classic look of a F7-A cab gave it the appearance of having a smile. Jerome Bettis almost always had a smile on his face, unless he was getting ready to run over you. Bettis enjoyed a long career, largely by being low-maintenance and economical fo output. These are two key reasons why the F7-A can be considered the zenith of the “cab unit” freight diesel, as it was commonplace on North American railroads (a total of 2,366 were built) for close to 40 years.
5) John Riggins: Electro-Motive Division “SD40-2″
How fitting is it that a guy nicknamed “The Diesel” is represented by a locomotive that was the workhorse for almost every mainline railroad for decades. Riggins wasn’t the fastest, nor was he the most powerful. He was just consistently the best for a long time, which is also the perfect description of the SD40-2. Riggins played 175 games in 14 seasons(which is forever for a running back), amassed 13,442 total yards and became only the second player at the time to rush for over 100 touchdowns. He had five 1,000-yard seasons and 35 100-yard games.
The SD40-2 was first introduced in 1972 and was a technological improvement over any model before it. Although it was not a high-horsepower locomotive, its 3,000-horsepower 16-645-E3 engine made it very reliable and economical, plus it featured an easily exchangeable, modular electronic control system similar to those of the experimental DDA40X, which made for a control cabinet that improved availability, efficiency, and ease of maintenance. Within a decade, the SD4-2 could be found everywhere in North America, as well as Brazil, Guinea, Yugoslavia, Korea, Iran, Morocco, Peru, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. You can still see SD40-2s today on Class I railroads, although they are becoming a rare sight in mainline service. These venerable units now mostly see road or yard switcher duty, or have been sold to regional “short-line” railroads.
4) Mike Alstott: Great Northern Railway “S-Class 4-8-4 Northern”
Alstott was one of those rare combinations of speed and brute force; he could run over you then run away from your help. The “Northerns” aristocratic look with its power and speed made it the perfect fit for the Great Northern Railway’s top-shelf passenger trains like the “Empire Builder” and “Oriental Limited.” In later life they powered GN fast freights on eastern districts, and were roller bearing-equipped in 1945. In a similar show of versatility, Alstott was also a devastating blocker and later in his career became an effective pass-catcher as well.
3) Marion Motley: Electro-Motive Division “SD90MAC-H”
In terms of generating horsepower, the SD90MAC-H are today’s most powerful diesel locomotives; they are rated at 6,000 HP). In terms of tractive effort, the SD90MAC-H is most powerful (200,000 pounds starting, 170,000 pounds continuous). In terms of running backs, Motley was a similarly imposing figure. Being more the size of a lineman meant the constant threat of him hurtling up the middle kept the defenses honest. Marion was the All-American Football Conference’s all-time rushing leader, and after the AAFC merged with the NFL, Motley led his new league in rushing his first NFL season in 1950. In a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that year, the powerful Motley rushed for 188 yards on just 11 carries for a 17.1 yards-per-carry average.
2) Earl Campbell – Electro-Motive Division “E8-A”
The E8-A and Earl Campbell were both the perfect combination of power and speed. Campbell really was just a flesh-and-bone locomotive; he ran like hidden somewhere in his massive thighs the actually was an E8-A with its 2,250-horsepower engine geared for running at 117 miles per hour.
1) Jim Brown: Electro-Motive Division “FT”
Jim Brown broke the mold. Brown was the first of the big, powerful, athletic running backs that have become the norm in the NFL. When Brown hit the league in the 1950’s, he spelled the end of the days of three-back sets and the death of the ham-footed fullback.
The FT also broke the mold. When the FT hit the rails in 1939, its The FT’s flexibility, modularity and ease of maintenance spelled the end of the steam era. Many rail historians consider the FT one of the most important locomotive models of all time. They were generally marketed as semi-permanently coupled A-B sets (a lead unit and a cabless booster connected by a solid drawbar) making a single locomotive capable of producing 2,700 horsepower. Many railroads used pairs of these sets back to back to make up a four-unit A-B-B-A locomotive rated at 5,400 HP, while others purchased semi-permanently coupled A-B-A three-unit sets of 4,050 HP.