Sunday Live Thread: Which Heisman Winner Holds The Most What-If Potential?

29 Sep 2001: Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch #7 carries the ball against Missouri at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri. The Nebraska Cornhuskers beat the Missouri Tigers 36-3. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/ALLSPORT

Perhaps you've noticed a number of other SBN college sites discussing what-ifs and Heisman winners recently. As part of an arrangement with EA Sports, SBN is helping to promoted NCAA Football '13 and its interesting new feature:

In NCAA Football '13, you can choose to put former Heisman winners, from Jim Plunkett, to Herschel Walker, to Barry Sanders, to Robert Griffin III, on your squad (or anybody else's). It seems sacrilegious (Herschel on Florida? Sanders on Oklahoma? Eddie George on Michigan?), but it's a unique idea.

So here's your question for Sunday discussion as I prepare to once again fly to New York for a few days: which former Heisman winner would have most directly aided the Missouri football program? Obviously in NCAA Football '13, you're adding these players to the current year's squad, but I'm talking about putting these players on year-specific squads.

  • What might 1948 winner Doak Walker have done for the post-war Don Faurot squads? As Fauro's Split-T became the nation's preferred formation, would a transcendent talent like Walker, or perhaps 1950 winner Vic Janowicz or 1952 winner Billy Vessels) have spurred recruiting and led Mizzou to better success in the early-1950s (and perhaps pushed Faurot's retirement back a few years)?
  • In terms of pure athleticism, 1959 winner Billy Cannon was a step ahead of everybody else in the country in the late-1950s. For the lone Frank Broyles team (1957) or the first couple of Dan Devine teams (1958-59), he might have been a spectacular resource for a team that was solid on defense but generally lacking in athleticism.
  • 1972 winner Johnny Rodgers was electrifying and played a time of transition for Missouri. Devine led Mizzou to the Orange Bowl in 1969, then left after a disappointing 1970 campaign. Could Rodgers have prompted a new surge from 1970-72?
  • In the early-1980s, Mizzou stagnated a bit. They were good enough to reach bowl games most years, but the program lost its momentum, got impatient with Warren Powers, and made a devastating coaching change following the 1984 season. Needless to say, 1982 winner Herschel Walker could have alleviated a bit of that impatience, no? In Walker's three seasons (1980-82), Mizzou went 4-6-2 in one-possession games. Think Walker might have changed a few of those games? (The same goes for 1985 winner Bo Jackson from 1983-85, obviously.)
  • From 1986-88, Mizzou averaged just 19.9 points per game behind a defense-first coach in Woody Widenhofer. But what if 1988 winner Barry Sanders were returning kicks and headlining the offensive backfield? First of all, Sanders wasn't even a primary ball-carrier at Oklahoma State until 1988 thanks to the presence of Thurman Thomas. What numbers might Sanders have produced as the No. 1 for three years? And what recruits might have followed Sanders to Columbia?
  • Can you imagine what 1991 winner Desmond Howard might have done in those early-1990s Bob Stull offenses?
  • How does a backfield of Corby Jones, Brock Olivo, Devin West, Ernest Blackwell, Ron Janes and 1998 winner Ricky Williams sound? Or maybe those players and 1999 winner Ron Dayne?
  • What if Jones had been succeeded by 2001 winner Eric Crouch?
  • What if Brad Smith shared a backfield with 2005 winner Reggie Bush?
  • And do I even need to go into detail about Robert Griffin III succeeding Chase Daniel?

Missouri's football history is unique: Mizzou has often been good, but never the best. They have had All-Americans, but never the All-American. Obviously any former Heisman winner could have made a unique, fun impact on the program's history, but which would have made the largest impact, and why?

This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.

EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)

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