OSU football: Brandon Weeden Cowboys’ greatest QB?
OSU hosts Baylor on Saturday, and the Bears sport the greatest quarterback in their history. I didn’t really run that past any Waco historians. But it seems likely, doesn’t it, that Robert Grifffin, who figures to finish in the top five in the Heisman Trophy, is No. 1 on the Baylor list?
In 1995, Texas Football magazine named Larry Isbell, who quarterbacked Baylor to the Orange Bowl in 1951, as the QB on the Bears’ all-time team. And Baylor’s had some other solid quarterbacks. Cody Carlson. Neal Jeffrey, leader of the Miracle on the Brazos team of 1974. From the ’60s, Don Trull, the Southeast High School flash who played in the AFL. From the ’50s, Cotton Davidson, who also played in the pros.
But Griffin seems to be the man. And he won’t be alone in historic status on Saturday.
Isn’t Brandon Weeden the greatest quarterback in OSU history? I know, that status has been reserved for almost a quarter century for the man who now is his coach. But can Mike Gundy be placed above Weeden?
It’s a little dubious to be talking about, since we also did the same for Weeden’s predecessor, Zac Robinson, who seemed poised to challenge Gundy’s status until his senior season stagnated with injury. But by what measuring stick would we not proclaim Weeden No. 1?
* Honors: Weeden is the only all-conference quarterback of the post-Missouri Valley era. Gundy didn’t make it. Robinson didn’t make it. Weeden did, in 2010, and while he might not repeat in 2011 thanks to Griffin, it won’t be because his performance has slipped.
* Value in style: Yes, it’s easier than ever for quarterbacks to pile up big numbers. But we’re not talking numbers right now. We’re talking how important is a QB in the 21st century. Like the optioneers from the old wishbone days, quarterbacks in the 2000s make multiple decisions after the ball is snapped. Unlike the optioneers, they also make multiple decisions before the ball is snapped. I’d say it’s tougher than ever to play college quarterback, and Weeden plays it superbly. It’s a much more complicated position than when Gundy played in the ’80s.
* Value to team: Gundy’s quarterback play meant a ton to OSU football. But Weeden’s means more. In the ’80s, OSU was a tailback-oriented offense, as any self-respecting football coach would make sure of with Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders on the roster. The Cowboys ran, ran, ran, then Gundy threw to Hart Lee Dykes if the defense tried to stiffen. It was a deadly combination. But Weeden’s value is greater. The Cowboys pass, pass, pass, then run Joe Randle or Jeremy Smith after the defense softens. The ’88 Cowboys would have missed Gundy greatly, but they still would have been dangerous. I don’t think we can say the same about the ’11 Cowboys.
* Team success:For better or worse, a prime quarterback criteria is winning. In 2010, Weeden led the Cowboys to an 11-2 season and a tie for the Big 12 South Division. Via tiebreaker, OSU lost out on the chance to go to the conference title game. But still, that’s a season that matches Gundy’s great 1988-88 run, when OSU went 10-2 both years but twice placed third in the Big Eight. And now Weeden has OSU 7-0 and ranked third nationally. If the Cowboys win the Big 12, I think the debate is completely over.
Stats:Weeden’s video-game numbers blow Gundy’s out of the water, but I don’t think that’s relevant. You can’t compare 2011 offenses to 1988 offenses. That’s no more relevant than comparing 1914 home run statistics to 1998 home run statistics. But the statistical difference certainly doesn’t hurt Weeden’s case.
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