February 13, 2012

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Ricky Williams Retires – What Could Have Been

By: Anson Whaley

When then New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka traded his entire slate of draft picks in 1999 to move up to acquire Ricky Williams, he was highly criticized. Williams had come off of an amazing career with the Texas Longhorns, but gambling an entire draft on a single player was a monumental risk – so risky that it had never been done before in the history of the league. Ditka put all of his eggs into one basket and it’s safe to say that while Williams rushed for more than 3,000 yards in three seasons in New Orleans, he provided a relatively small return for an entire draft’s worth of selections. The Saints ended up trading Williams away in 2002 to the Miami Dolphins for (drum roll) … more draft picks.

The bizarre thing is that even after a fairly long NFL career, it’s difficult to gauge just how good he was. His 10,009 career yards rank 26th all-time, yet he had only five career 1,000-yard seasons.  10,000 yards is an amazing accomplishment and made Williams a great rusher, but he will be remembered by most as someone who could have done even more.

In 2000, his second NFL season, Williams missed six games due to injury, but still finished with 1,000 yards. Then after racking up nearly 4,500 rushing yards over the next three years, Williams abruptly retired in 2004. He returned in 2005, but shared time with a young Ronnie Brown, and in 2006, he was suspended for the entire season for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Williams returned again in 2007, but playing in his first game, he was injured and missed the remainder of the season. Williams played in 2008 – 2010 without missing a game, but he again spilt time with the younger Brown. Last season, he served as a backup with the Baltimore Ravens behind star Ray Rice.

The Dolphins drafted Ronnie Brown to add stability and the "wildcat" to their running game.

When you add it all up, Williams missed about 3 ½ years of playing time. He averaged nearly 1,200 yards per season from 1999 – 2005, so factoring in that rate of production, Williams lost approximately 4,000 yards in all. When you add those yards to his career, a good picture is painted as to just how good he could have been.

With 14,000 career yards, he vaults all the way into fifth place on the all-time rushing list behind only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Curtis Martin. Just as important, if Williams had been a steady force in the backfield, the Dolphins probably don’t draft Ronnie Brown. Instead of sharing the rushing duties in much of his career in Miami, Williams could have had the bulk of the carries to himself and accumulated even more yards as a feature back.

Now, while all this projecting is fun, the important thing to remember is that it certainly is no guarantee of what Williams would have accomplished. Even if he had been able to stay on the field, there’s still no telling how things would have played out.

The bottom line is that we’ll never know if Williams might have challenged Emmitt Smith’s NFL record of 18,355 yards. But if things had turned out a little better, he may have given it a shot – and Mike Ditka would have had the last laugh.

February 2, 2010

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National Signing Day

By: Alex

Tomorrow is the NCAA National Signing Day… For the die hard College Football fans this is like the NFL Draft. National Signing Day is a very exciting time of year. It’s a time where Fans can do their own scouting for the next Heisman Trophy candidate. It’s also a time that can make or break a coach’s upcoming season. Every team has its holes, there is do doubt about that. This is a time where Coaches can go out and fill those voids with talented, intelligent young adults. This day also has a big effect on the pre-season football rankings, which are pretty much a shot in the dark anyways. If a school gets a big, talented recruiting class, that can boost them a spot or two. According to ESPN.com, the 2010 Top 10 Best Recruiting Classes are:

  1. Florida Gators
  2. Texas Longhorns
  3. Alabama Crimson Tide
  4. Georgia Bulldogs
  5. Auburn Tigers
  6. Oklahoma Sooners
  7. Penn State Nittany Lions
  8. LSU Tigers
  9. Florida State Seminoles
  10. USC Trojans

 

Coming from a HUGE NCAA Football Fan, I can’t wait to see who will end up at my favorite school. GO BLUE!

January 8, 2010

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Unfair Fairwell

By: Alex

How can one not feel bad for Texas Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy? The Texas Superstar sat out all but 2 minutes and 7 seconds in Thursday nights BCS National Championship Game. Colt McCoy is the all time leader in wins in all of Major College Football! It seemed like fate that McCoy got his chance to win a National Championship in the same Rose Bowl where Vince Young and the Longhorns won their last BCS title 5 years ago. But as fate has it, he would get hurt running the option against Alabama’s vaunted defense. I am not saying that if he didn’t get hurt, the Longhorns would have emerged victorious. I am just saying that I feel extremely bad for this young man who had waited four years for his opportunity only to watch the game from the sidelines. Mark Schlabach from ESPN wrote a great article about the Texas quarterbacks night.

Colt McCoy will rise again with the NFL. I believe some team will give him an opporunity and he will have even more motivation to continue his success at the next level.