College Football's All-Time Greatest Players: The Ivy League Edition
Bar room discussions are fun.
A recent one we had in Fort Worth was, “Who is the all-time greatest player at….”.
At TCU, for example, do you pick Sammy Baugh, Bob Lilly, or LaDainian Tomlinson?
Similar arguments were heard for schools like Texas (e.g. Layne, Leaks, Nobis, or Campbell?), while for other schools the possibilities seemed to be rather Spartan.
As such, I’ve decided to research who were the greatest players to ever play college football for each Division 1-A program and conference.
To start, I’ve included the Ivy’s, since they were so instrumental in growing the sport and are such are a repository of many of the hallowed great names that built the game.
This list would include John W. Heisman, pictured above. While Heisman rose to fame as a coach at Georgia Tech, he also played for both Brown (1887-89) and Penn (1890-91).
So here are my selections for each school's all-time best in the Ivy's:
BROWN: Joe Paterno, QB/CB
Everyone knows "Joe Pa" as the long time coach at Penn State who is the Division 1-A leader in all-time wins.
But Joe was also, perhaps not surprisingly, a heck of a good player.
Paterno played QB and CB for Brown back in the day on non-platoon football, leading the team to a 15-3 record over the 1948 and 1949 seasons.
He still shares the school record for career interceptions (14) with Greg Parker.
COLUMBIA: Sid Luckman, TB/DB
Luckman, playing single wing tailback, threw for over 2,400 hundred yards in an era of low scoring ground attack slug fests.
He finished third in the 1938 Heisman voting and was the second overall pick of the 1939 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
Called the first true T formation QB, Luckman played from 1939 to 1950 in the NFL, and is a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
CORNELL: Ed Marinaro, RB
The Big Red claim five national championships, their last in 1939. But their best player ever is from the modern era...Ed Marinaro.
Marinaro was the first running back in NCAA history to gain over 4,000 yards and led the nation in rushing in 1970 and 1971.
He was the runner-up for the Heisman in 1971, when he also won the Maxwell Award, was named the UPI College Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American.
Marinaro went on to have a six-year career in the NFL and had a successful post-athletic career as an actor. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
DARTMOUTH: Reggie Williams, LB
Williams, class of 1976, was a three time All-Ivy linebacker for Dartmouth from 1973-75, and also was the Ivy League heavyweight wrestling champion as a senior.
Drafted in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals, White spent a 14-year career with the organization. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
HARVARD: Pat McInally, WR/Punter
A record setting split end and punter, McInally was two time all Ivy and named an All-American in 1974, Harvard's first since 1941.
Leading the team to their first ever Ivy League title in 1974, he led the country in receiving in 1973 and still holds Crimson records in many receiving categories.
McInnally spent a ten-year career as the punter for the Bengals in the NFL, and also saw some playing time as a receiver on offense.
He is the first Harvard player to play in a Pro Bowl or Super Bowl (both in 1981)
PENN: Chuck Bednarik, C/LB
Two of the players from Penn’s illustrious football past have trophies named after them. One is John Outland, an interior lineman from the 1890’s. The other is Chuck Bednarik.
Bednarik was a three-time All-American at center and linebacker at Penn from 1946 to 1948, winning the Maxwell Award and finishing third for the Heisman in 1949.
He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bednarik went on to a stellar career in the NFL, and is the last true 60-minute man, playing both ways his entire career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 to 1962.
He is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and the NFL 75th Anniversary All-time team and his number 60 is retired by the Eagles.
Bednarik has been an outspoken, even bitter critic of today's NFL players for playing on only one side of the ball.
Chuck has been quoted for calling them "pussyfoots", noting that they "suck air after five plays" and that they "couldn't tackle my wife Emma".
The Chuck Bednarik trophy has been awarded by the Maxwell Club since 1995 to the best defensive player in college football, with this past year’s recipient being Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh.
PRINCETON Dick Kazmaier, RB/QB
Kazmaier was an All-American his junior and senior years and won the Heisman and Maxwell in 1951. He ended his career third on the all-time career list at Princeton with over 4,000 yards of total offense and scored 55 touchdowns.
Although drafted by the NFL, he instead chose to attend Harvard Business School and became a successful businessman.
YALE Calvin Hill, RB
Walter Camp, the "Father of American football" hails from Yale. So do Heisman winners Clint Frank and Larry Kelly, and such pros as Chuck Mercein, Dick Jauron, and Eric Johnson. My selection, however, is Calvin Hill.
Hill led the 1968 Yale team to an undefeated season, famously remembered for the tie that they "lost" versus Harvard. A two-time All-Ivy selection, Hill remains in the top 10 for rushing touchdowns, touchdowns, and most points scored in Ivy record books after four decades.
Selected int he first round by the Dallas Cowboys, he played 12 years professionally and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.