USC Football leads the way with six selections on Athlon Sports’ ranking of the “Top 50 College Football Players of the Past 50 Years.”
In case you needed reminding of just how dominant USC Football has been in the last 50 years, Athlon Sports’ commemoration of the greatest players of the “Athlon Era” should do the trick.
In light of the publication’s 50th anniversary, a panel of sports writers voted on the best college football players of the past 50 years, including six Trojans in the ranking — the most among all schools.
Those six were topped by Reggie Bush at No. 14, followed by No. 18 Ronnie Lott, No. 20 O.J. Simpson, No. 26 Anthony Munoz, No. 27 Marcus Allen and No. 38 Matt Leinart.
The programs with the next-most selections were Ohio State and Nebraska with four apiece. Notre Dame didn’t have anyone make the list while UCLA placed two with tackle Jonathan Ogden at No. 42 and safety Kenny Easley at No. 25. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota at No. 47, Stanford’s John Elway at No. 33 and Washington’s Steve Emtman at No. 31 also represented the Pac-12.
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When it comes to USC’s selections, it’s hard to argue against their inclusions, though rankings could certainly be debated. Leinart, with just about every accolade that a quarterback could achieve in a three-year career, trails one-season wonder Cam Newton. Allen misses out on the Top 25 despite his record-setting career. And there’s no telling how much Simpson and Bush’s off-the-field troubles hurt their ranking.
There’s also the issue of Munoz, who Athlon describes as a two-time All-American at USC. The problem is, USC does not claim Munoz as an All-American at all.
Though he was undoubtedly an All-American talent, as evidenced by his selection as the No. 3 overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft and his illustrious NFL Hall of Fame career, a series of knee injuries greatly limited his production as a Trojan. He never received first team All-American recognition, though the United Press International did include him on their All-West Coast team for 1978.
Interestingly enough, all six Trojans represented were left off of at least two ballots completely. Only Archie Griffin, Bo Jackson, Tim Tebow, Hugh Green, Deion Sanders, Charles Woodson and Tommie Frazier made it on at least 15 of the 16 ballots.