This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.
MOST MEMORABLE HITS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
NO. 1, "MY GOD, A FRESHMAN"
There is a two-day Reddit AMA ("ask me anything") on Friday and Saturday with 12 former Heisman winners as they film a Nissan "Heisman House" series of commercials. Tony Dorsett reminded us how things have changed in the last 30 or so years.
"The fans and visibility of game has come a long way," Dorsett, the 1976 Heisman winner, said on the AMA. "When I was playing, all you would see was Notre Dame on TV. Now everyone's on TV, which I think they deserve."
That's one good reason why Herschel Walker running over Bill Bates during the 1980 season opener is No. 1 on this list.
Jadeveon Clowney made his already legendary play, and the rest took care of itself. Right now, you could open a new tab on your browser and watch that play again, as many times as you want. It would take you less than 30 seconds. There's a good chance you have a phone with that capability too. Everything is accessible and instant celebrity is common. Heck, a woman who flipped the middle finger to Bulls forward Joakim Noah this week became an internet legend in less than 24 hours.
In 1980, what was there? Maybe the local news had a clip, but probably not. YouTube was inconceivable and ESPN wasn't the omnipresent force it is now.
And yet, Walker's legend, which grew to be as large as any in college football history, started for many people at that moment. Even during an era in which information wasn't easily accessible, everyone still seemed to see that play.
And what a play it was.
Bates was no pushover. He was a second-team all-SEC pick for Tennessee two years in a row. Bates played for 15 years in the NFL. He sized up Walker in the open field, and while Walker was already a known commodity for his incredible high school exploits, he was still just a freshman playing his first career game.
Walker ran right over Bates at the 5-yard line and scored his first career touchdown. Aside from possibly Bo Jackson running over Brian Bosworth in the pros, it's maybe the most famous instance of a running back completely bowling over a defensive player. Walker knocks Bates back and eventually on his back and he keeps his legs moving and moves forward like Bates wasn't there. Larry Munson's astonished call of the action added to the legend.
"My God, a freshman," Munson exclaimed, as surprised as anyone who just saw an 18-year-old completely brutalize a future 15-year pro safety in the open field.
Clowney became a sensation after his hit. He is a very good player, and will probably be remembered fondly, for many years. Walker might be the greatest college player of all time. If he's not, he's on the short list of candidates.
Walker finished third, second and first in the Heisman balloting his first three years. One could argue he deserved to win at least two Heisman Trophies. He had a remarkable career, and the legend started with one incredible hit.
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