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Decade Debate: 15 Best College Football Players

Judging which college football player was the best over the past decade can be a tricky endeavor. Do you rank a player that has won a Heisman higher than one that has not? Do you penalize a player if he played in a pass-happy system that allowed him to put up lofty numbers? Do you judge his performance based on the talent around him or the difficulty of his competition? As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here is a top 15 ranking of the best college football players of the past decade. Perhaps more than any of our lists in this decade series, this one could be debated the most given the factors that surround it.

15. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

If you want to be entertained, try turning on a Clemson game and watching Spiller for three-plus hours. He’s a terrific runner, an electrifying return man and one of the deadliest weapons in college football. He is the only player besides Reggie Bush to post 2,500 yards rushing, 1,500 yards in kickoff returns, 1,000 yards receiving and 5,000 yards in punt returns. He’s also tied a NCAA record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns with six. If it weren’t for a lackluster junior season, he’d probably rank higher on this list.

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House subcommittee approves legislation for college football playoff system

According to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a U.S. House subcommittee has approved a legislation that would force college football to switch to a playoff system to determine a national champion.

The bill, which faces long odds of becoming law, would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I football game as a national championship unless that title contest is the result of a playoff. The measure passed by voice vote in a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee, with one audible “no,” from Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.

“With all due respect, I really think we have more important things to spend our time on,” Barrow said before the vote, although he stressed he didn’t like the current Bowl Championship Series, either.

The bill’s sponsor, GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, said the BCS system is unfair and won’t change unless prompted by Congress.
The vote came three days after the BCS selections were announced, including the Jan. 7 national title game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Texas.

Something that just occurred to me is what if college football does implement a playoff system and teams like TCU, Boise State, Cincinnati and whomever routinely get knocked out in the first or second round?

I get that the point of a playoff system is to determine a winner on the field as opposed to leaving the decision up to voters and a computer system. But it would be a tad ironic if all this clamoring for a playoff system eventually leads to the same conferences (SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, etc.) being pitted against each other in the national title game – especially if there has to be a law made in order to force college football to figure out a playoff structure.

That said, I’m still all for it. I agree that there are probably better things for the congress to be worried about than college football, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to see it happen.

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Top 10 NFL Players Coached by Bobby Bowden at Florida State

Simply put, Bobby Bowden is a legend and will go down as one of the greatest head coaches in college football history. He has the fourth most wins (388) of any college coach, has won 12 ACC Championships and two national titles. He also has the second best all-time record in bowl games at 21-10-1 and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Now that he has decided to retire, we felt it would be appropriate to honor one of college football’s best coaches by compiling a list of the 10 best NFL players that played under Bowden at Florida State. Enjoy.

1. Deion Sanders, CB (Year Drafted: 1989)
Whether you liked his brash attitude or not, nobody can deny how good “Neon Deion” was as a player. He brought true meaning to the phrase “shutdown corner” while instilling excitement and thrill into the pro game. Nobody has ever blanketed one side of the field like Sanders could and perhaps nobody ever will. He was so good that quarterbacks avoided throwing to his side of the field not only in fear of being picked off by Sanders, but also in concern that he would return the gift for six points. And not only was he one of the greatest cover corners to ever don a pair of cleats, but he was also a phenomenal punt returner as well. When his career finally wrapped up, Deion had accumulated 53 interceptions, eight Pro Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl victories, a 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was also an incredibly rare two-sport athlete and to this day, young corners still try to emulate the way he played the game. (Uh, outside of his shoddy tackling that is.)

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Tempers flare as USC defeats UCLA 28-7

USC

His team on defense and trailing 21-7 with 44 seconds remaining, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel called for a time out. Back on the field, USC quarterback Matt Barkley took the snap and connected with receiver Damian Williams for a 48-yard touchdown. The Bruins looked completely dumbfounded on the play, leaving Williams with plenty of room to make an easy grab. Of course, Neuheisel and his team didn’t seem too pleased.

The Trojans (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10) followed Williams’ dramatic score by jumping and yelling on their sideline before moving onto the field in unison. They appeared to be taunting the Bruins (6-6, 3-6), who then came across midfield to challenge them before coaches and officials kept them apart.

After the game, Neuheisel and USC coach Pete Carroll exchanged possibly the shortest handshake in the history of college football. The announcers on the Fox Sports telecast were trying to blow up the situation and I hope people don’t buy into it. Both coaches live to compete and this type of stuff is expected.

The bottom line is that Neuheisel called a meaningless timeout when his team was obviously beaten. Sensing Neuheisel intended to keep this game going, Pete Carroll went for a final score. I have no clue why the Bruins neglected to play defense on Williams’ touchdown. If Neuheisel did indeed call the timeout to discuss a defensive strategy, then his team failed to listen. On the other hand, if he just wanted to irritate the Coliseum (which is how it looked), then Carroll had every right to order a deep pass.

Gerhart leads Stanford to 45-38 win over Notre Dame

Weis

Even though Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis probably had the pink slip in his wallet, the guy would have appreciated a win today against Stanford. Unfortunately for him, Toby Gerhart is an amazing football player. With less than 6 minutes left in the game, Gerhart carried seven times for 54 yards on the Cardinals’ winning drive.

On a night when Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate put on an aerial show for the Irish (6-6) in a showcase for Weis’ offense, it was Gerhart who won the game for Stanford (8-4) and possibly earned a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist in two weeks.

After Stanford stopped Robert Hughes on third-and-2 from the Irish 35 with less than 6 minutes left, Gerhart carried seven times for 54 yards on the winning drive, bowling over would-be tacklers before scoring his 26th rushing touchdown of the season. The fans chanted “To-by! To-by!” throughout the drive.

Clausen and Tate weren’t done, driving to the 24 before Chase Thomas sacked Clausen at the 31. On the final play, Clausen’s desperation heave into the end zone was batted down by Michael Thomas, giving Stanford its first win against Notre Dame since 2001.

Earlier today, I took the train through Palo Alto en route to San Jose. I was sitting by a few Notre Dame fans. They couldn’t have been less excited. Their team was hours away from losing, but they looked as if they were solemnly preparing themselves for a sour outcome.

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