I don't think Barry Sanders' NCAA rushing record is going to fall. Central Florida's Kevin Smith needs 181 yards against Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl to break Sanders' record. Mississippi State held Arkansas' Darren McFadden to 88 yards on 28 carries. Held Matt Forte, Tulane's 2,000-yard rusher, to 47 yards on 14 carries. Held West Virginia stud Steve Slaton to 127 yards on 23 carries. So I think Sanders' record might survive this latest assault. But it shouldn't even be a possibility. Sanders actually gained 2,850 yards in his spectacular 1988 season at Oklahoma State, but the NCAA then did not count bowl statistics. Bowl games now are included, but not retroactively, according to a new policy voted upon for the 2003 season. Which is nonsense. If the 2002 Gator Bowl stats count, the 2003 Gator Bowl stats should count. Smith's 2007 rushing totals already count 13 games, since Central Florida played in the Conference USA championship game. Now he gets 14 games to pad his total. Sanders got 11. Jim Wright, director of NCAA statistics, said, "We did not go back and retroactively change previous records.Assuming we could even find all the bowl game stats, that would mean that some national statistical champions might change, and we did not feel that would be right to tell someone 20-30 years after the fact that they no longer were the national punting leader, as an example.” Well, I don't want to go around bursting the bubble of 50-year-old men, but statistics and records don't exist to make has-beens feel better about themselves. They exist to accurately reflect what happened. The NCAA is a huge organization with access to all kinds of resources. With help from each school, the records easily could be updated. OSU has not updated its school records to count bowl games, which is a mistake. Oklahoma State media relations director Kevin Klintworth, who has been on the job barely a year, said that task is on his to-do list but is not a priority, since it would make no difference in the NCAA record book. Other schools have updated their records to count bowl games. For instance, Billy Sims jumped Joe Washington as the leading rusher in Oklahoma history. Klintworth said he thinks bowl games should count but should be retroactive. An NCAA official told Klintworth that even if Smith busts 2,628 (Sanders' pre-bowl total), Sanders would be noted in the record book for his 11-game total. "Now what you have is a record book full of asterisks,” Klintworth said. Maybe the Liberty Bowl will make this discussion moot. But Barry Sanders shouldn't have to rely on Mississippi State.
OSU running back Barry Sanders currently holds the NCAA single-season rushing record with 2,628 yards, but Central Florida's Kevin Smith could break it with 181 yards in his bowl game. by Jim Argo The Oklahoman Archive