Recently, our colleagues at the Big Ten blog determined the five best players at each position in the history of the conference. We thought it was interesting, so we're following suit.
A couple of notes: We'll be basing these lists on the college careers of the players, not on how they fared in the NFL. And with apologies to LaDainian Tomlinson and Pat White, only players that wore Big 12 logos at the time they played -- and only the seasons they played while part of the Big 12 -- were considered to keep this consistent.
On to the rankings, which begin with the quarterbacks:
1. Vince Young, Texas (2003-05): Young put together one of the finest individual seasons in college football history, and capped it with one of the most impressive individual performances in a single game. Young led Texas to its first national championship in 35 years, and became the first quarterback in college football history to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in the same season. He finished his 2005 campaign by toppling the would-be USC dynasty with a game-winning, fourth-down touchdown dash in the closing seconds at the Rose Bowl. Young didn't win the Heisman in 2005, but he was the best player in college football that season. And among the best of any season.
2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (2007-09): In 2008, Bradford engineered the highest-scoring offense of the modern college era, as the Sooners scored 716 points and put up at least 60 in their final five regular-season games, another FBS record. That year, Bradford captured the Heisman with 50 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions. Though his 2009 campaign was cut short with a shoulder injury, Bradford went on to set another FBS record with a career quarterback efficiency rating of 175.6 before becoming the top pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
3. Robert Griffin, Baylor (2008-11): During his magical 2011 season, RGIII posted a passing efficiency rating of 189.48, which is second all-time only to Russell Wilson, who finished with a 191.78 that same year. RGIII also brought Baylor its first Heisman Trophy and just its second-10 win season. His game-winning touchdown pass late in the season that gave the Bears their first-ever win over Oklahoma was the impetus that allowed the school to secure the funding for the on-campus, $260-million McLane Stadium. He would become the second overall pick in the NFL draft.
4. Colt McCoy, Texas (2006-09): No Big 12 quarterback had the breadth of career that McCoy enjoyed. The four-year starter was the 2006 Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. He was twice a Heisman finalist. And he won the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards as college football's top player, and the Manning, Unitas and Davey O'Brien trophies as its top quarterback. McCoy also left Texas as the winningest quarterback in college football history, and set an FBS season record with a completion percentage of 76.7.
5. Jason White, Oklahoma (1999-2004): White overcame a pair of serious knee injuries earlier in his career to quarterback Oklahoma to a pair of national championship appearances, and snag the 2003 Heisman; he also placed third in the Heisman voting in 2004. White finished his career with 81 touchdown passes compared with just 24 interceptions.