Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Take Two: Best season of Big 12 era

By Brandon Chatmon

It's Take Two Tuesday time, when we give diverging opinions on a topic related to the Big 12.

Tuesday's Take Two topic: Which player had the best individual season during the Big 12 era?

Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and put Baylor back on the map.
Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III

This one is pretty simple for me.

Robert Griffin III didn’t just dominate during the 2011 season. The former Baylor quarterback elevated a program with a season full of excellence.

True enough, the transformation in Waco, Texas, was well underway thanks to coach Art Briles, but Griffin’s Heisman Trophy season made it impossible for people to ignore Baylor any longer. Griffin smiled in your face, then embarrassed you on the field, all the while reiterating his belief that the Bears’ program was for real and was not going to back down to anyone.

His Heisman moment, a game-winning touchdown pass against Oklahoma, left no doubt that the upstart program under Briles was setting itself up for a big future and would have to be dealt with by any Big 12 team with an eye on the title.

Make no mistake, Griffin’s 2011 campaign played a significant role in the Bears’ rise, which continued with their first Big 12 title in 2013. From that point, Briles not only could sell his vision for the program, but he also could point to tangible proof that a recruit's dreams could come true while calling Waco home during his college years.

It was an exceptional individual season, but it was much, much bigger than that. And its impact will still be felt this season and beyond.

Vince Young
Vince Young delivered Texas' first national title in 35 years with a stunning performance against USC.
Take 2: Max Olson -- Texas quarterback Vince Young

I mean, this is kind of an easy call, right?

Young did not win a Heisman in 2005 (technically, nobody did), but he did do everything else, willing his Texas team to a national title and perhaps the greatest championship victory and moment of the BCS era.

He put up unreal numbers in the process: 3,036 passing yards, 26 passing TDs, 1,050 rushing yards and 12 more TDs. The offense he operated averaged 50.2 PPG and 512 YPG. Young’s Longhorns beat No. 4 Ohio State in The Horseshoe and whupped the rest of the Big 12 by an average margin of 37 PPG.

Young capped it all with an unforgettable night against USC, the two-time defending champs and dynasty of college football. And he did it in the Rose Bowl, beating Bush, Leinart, Carroll & Co. with his 467 total yards and championship-winning touchdown drive and dash.

Yes, his pro career was a failure, but don’t let that diminish your memory of Young’s incredible tools in college. He was a rare athlete, a 6-foot-5 dual-threat with elite breakaway speed and an arm that had improved considerably by 2005, to go along with a sharp understanding of read-option football.

And just think of what Young did for Texas in the big picture: He gave the Longhorns their first championship in 35 years, gave Mack Brown his first conference title, and helped make them truly elite again on the field and in recruiting.

Put it all together and you get a once-in-a-generation season and player. Simple as that.