With March Madness and the entire sports world coming to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Daily Texan created a tournament of its own. Divided into four quadrants, the bracket has matchups between 16 of the top Longhorn athletes of all time, broken down by members of the Texan sports staff. Check here for the results from the semifinals.
Finals: Vince Young vs. Ricky Williams
Once you get to the finals of any bracket, especially one ranking greatness, it becomes a matter of nitpicking. Here in the finals of the Greatest Longhorn, it isn’t any different. Both quarterback Vince Young and running back Ricky Williams accomplished unprecedented things during their respective time on the Forty Acres. But there can only be one “GOAT.”
Young’s rise up the legacy board truly began in 2004. A sophomore at the time, he led a powerful, run-heavy offense to 11 wins and a No. 5 final ranking. After a loss to Oklahoma set Texas on the path to meet Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, Young and the Longhorns went into the offseason ready to return for the BCS Trophy.
The 2005 season is a time that will forever be entrenched in the hearts of Texas fans and the minds of college football as a whole. Vince Young was unbelievable with over 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing, a second place Heisman finish and a game-winning touchdown in the greatest college football game ever played.
Ever since Young scrambled on fourth-and-5, Texas has been enamored with him. But too much weight has been placed on Young leading the Longhorns to a national title, especially by Texas fans wanting to boost the credibility of the football program.
Young has the stats, the moment and the win, which gives him an invitation to this conversation. But his extremely solid case just isn’t as great as that of Ricky Williams: The Greatest Longhorn of All Time.
The best argument for Young revolves around his 2005 season. Yet, if we compare best year vs. best year, Williams gets the nod. In 11 games, he accrued nearly 2,400 yards from scrimmage which comes out to be just over 218 yards per game. Williams’ level of production is in a league of its own.
While Williams’ final season was his best, his prior seasons are nothing to scoff at. He put up over 1,200 yards rushing with double-digit touchdowns each year except his freshman season.
In Texas history, no one — not even Earl Campbell or Cedric Benson — has ever had more yards in a game, season or career than Ricky Williams. During his collegiate career, Williams ran for 6,279 yards and a whopping 72 touchdowns.
The one thing Williams didn’t have was the championship, but his individual accolades and records make up for it.
In his final two seasons, Williams won the Walter Doak Award twice, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year twice and was a consensus All-American twice.
Williams was also able to bring home the biggest individual award — the Heisman Trophy. And although Young finished second in the 2005 Heisman voting, there is something to be said about being named by the majority as the best player in the country.
At the end of the day, Williams gets the nod because his career is more substantive. It is less about folklore and “Where were you?” moments. His production is undeniable, and because of that, the “GOAT” title follows.