Big 12: Roger Wehrli

Roger Craig up for pro football HOF

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
12:10
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Former Nebraska running back Roger Craig is among the finalists whose credentials have been studied and analyzed before the new class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is announced on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeRoger Craig
US PresswireDuring an 11 season career, Roger Craig compiled 8,189 rushing yards and 4,911 receiving yards.
Craig is the only product from a Big 12 school among the group of 17 finalists. Others who made the final cut include Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Don Coryell, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Russ Grimm, Charles Haley, Rickey Jackson, Cortez Kennedy, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Andre Reed, Jerry Rice, Shannon Sharpe and Emmitt Smith.

Craig's candidacy appears to be strong. He was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams with the San Francisco 49ers. He was a four-time Pro Bowler who led the league in receptions in 1985 and ranked among the top seven receivers during four consecutive seasons from 1985 to 1988. He also finished in the top 10 in rushing for three straight seasons from 1987 to 1989.

His numbers appear strong, but he likely will be hurt by two "no brainer" selections. Smith and Rice have to be picked in their first seasons of eligibility. Smith was the greatest running back of his generation and Craig pales compared to him. And I'm thinking if voters choose to reward a player from the San Francisco dynasty of the late 1980s, it will be Rice.

The Big 12 is underrepresented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There hasn't been an alumnus from the conference selected since Thurman Thomas and Roger Wehrli in 2007.

Here's a look at the Big 12 schools and their alumni chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Baylor: LB Mike Singletary (1998)

Colorado: None.

Iowa State: None.

Kansas: T Mike McCormack (1984), RB John Riggins (1992), RB Gale Sayers (1977).

Kansas State: None.

Missouri: CB Roger Wehrli (2007), TE Kellen Winslow (1995).

Nebraska: T Bob Brown (2004), E/coach Guy Chamberlin (1965), T William "Link" Lyman (1964).

Oklahoma: QB Troy Aikman (later finished at UCLA/2006), WR Tommy McDonald (1998), DE Lee Roy Selmon (1995).

Oklahoma State: RB Barry Sanders (2004), RB Thurman Thomas (2007).

Texas: RB Earl Campbell (1991), DB/coach Tom Landry (1990), QB Bobby Layne (1967), administrator Tex Schramm (1991).

Texas A&M: DB/P Yale Lary (1979).

Texas Tech: None.

How about it, readers? Are there any Big 12 products either retired or playing today in the NFL who deserve a slot in Canton for their deeds in the NFL?

I think an argument can definitely be made for Craig and for former players Tommy Nobis (Texas) and Lester Hayes (Texas A&M). I can also see recently retired players like Zach Thomas (Texas Tech) making it one day. And it also wouldn't surprise me to see Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma) and Wes Welker (Texas Tech) there if they can keep progressing in their careers.

What do you think?

Suh among five Nagurski Trophy finalists

November, 19, 2009
11/19/09
2:45
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Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh Thursday was named one of the five finalists for the 2009 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, announced by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

Other finalists named include TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes, Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody, Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry and Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer.

Suh leads the Cornhuskers with 31 solo and 25 assisted tackles. He has also produced 13 tackles for 47 yards in losses, including five sacks. He's also generated eight pass breakups, 19 quarterback hurries, forced a fumble and blocked three kicks. Nebraska ranks 10th nationally in total defense and 11th in rush defense.

The winner will be announced Dec. 7 during a banquet in Charlotte, N.C.

Additionally, the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will present their third Bronko Nagurski Legends Award to former standout Missouri defensive back Roger Wehrli, a member of the 1968 FWAA All-America team.

The best Big 12 players in NFL history

May, 29, 2009
5/29/09
2:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

As anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis understands by now, I see numbers and statistics as a way of explaining a lot of things about sports.

A whole generation of analysts has constructed brand new ideas in baseball because of the work of sabermetricians like former Kansas student Bill James.

Football doesn't quiet have that wealth of study, mainly because there aren't as many numbers available.

But there are a growing segment of analysts out there doing more and more work on football analysis.

My wife got me a book over the weekend which I read while I was down at the beach over Memorial Day. Sean Lahman's "The Pro Football Historical Abstract" used some Jamesian methodology to rank the top pro players in history at their positions, among other things.

And bringing some of Lahman's study into closer focus, I was particularly interested in how players from Big 12 schools ranked among his career lists at various positions.

Here's a position-by-position glance at the top Big 12 players in NFL history, according to Lahman's rankings.

Quarterbacks

12. Bobby Layne (Texas)
27. Troy Aikman (started at Oklahoma, UCLA)
28. John Hadl (Kansas)
62. Steve Grogan (Kansas State)
63. Kordell Stewart (Colorado)
100. Bernie Masterson (Nebraska)

Running backs

2. Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State)
5. Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State)
21. Earl Campbell (Texas)
30. Roger Craig (Nebraska)
32. John Riggins (Kansas)
38. Priest Holmes (Texas)
45. Ahman Green (Nebraska)
54. Larry Brown (Kansas State)
98. Gale Sayers (Kansas)
99. James Wilder (Missouri)

Wide receivers

17. Cliff Branch (Colorado)
27. Del Shofner (Baylor)
47. Irving Fryar (Nebraska)
48. Mel Gray (Missouri)
49. Dave Parks (Texas Tech)

Tight Ends

6. Kellen Winslow (Missouri)
14. Keith Jackson (Oklahoma)
34. Henry Childs (Kansas State)
49. Paul Coffman (Kansas State)

Offensive linemen

7. Will Shields (Nebraska)
32. Richmond Webb (Texas A&M)
34. Bob Brown (Nebraska)
39. Bob Young (Started at Howard Payne, Texas, Texas State)
46. John Wooten (Colorado)

Defensive linemen

18. Ron McDole (Nebraska)
19. Steve McMichael (Texas)
43. Ray Childress (Texas A&M)

Linebackers

2. Mike Singletary (Baylor)
26. Andy Russell (Missouri)
28. Jack Pardee (Texas A&M)
29. Zach Thomas (Texas Tech)
30. Leslie O'Neal (Oklahoma State)

Defensive backs

16. Yale Lary (Texas A&M)
21. Pat Fischer (Nebraska)
36. Roger Wehrli (Missouri)

Kickers

20. Bobby Layne (Texas)

Kickoff returners

2. Glyn Milburn (Started at Oklahoma, Stanford)
4. Dante Hall (Texas A&M)
7. Tyrone Hughes (Nebraska)
10. Gale Sayers (Kansas)

Punt returners

5. Eric Metcalf (Texas)
12. Glyn Milburn (Oklahoma, Stanford)

Combined kick returners

11. Dante Hall (Texas A&M)
14. Mike Nelms (Started at Baylor, Sam Houston State)
24. Dick Todd (Texas A&M)

TWO-WAY ERA PLAYERS

Backs

5. Verne Lewellen (Nebraska)
7. Glenn Presnell (Nebraska)

Ends

10. Guy Chamberlin (Started at Nebraska Wesleyan, Nebraska)

Tackles

1. Link Lyman (Nebraska)

Guards

3. Ox Emerson (Texas)

Centers

5. Charley Brock (Nebraska)
6. Frank Bausch (Kansas)

Coaches

4. Tom Landry (Texas)
53. Jack Pardee (Texas A&M)
72. Guy Chamberlin (Nebraska Wesleyan, Nebraska)

I had a chance to see many of these players as my frame of reference for the NFL goes back to about 1964, when I was 5 years old. The only one that really shocked me was how low Gale Sayers was ranked among running backs. I grew up watching the Chicago Bears and saw almost every one of Sayers' pro games. I find it hard to believe there were 97 better running backs in NFL history than him.

One fact that was interesting from this list was the number of running backs and linemen that were Big 12 products, in comparison with quarterbacks and receivers. In the old days, the Big Eight and Southwest conferences always had reputations based on stout running games. I think that will change in the future because of the conference's growing aerial status.

Obviously, there will be other Big 12 players who will be able to make the list in the future. It would be a shock if we don't see Adrian Peterson charging into the best backs in NFL history. It wouldn't surprise me if Michael Crabtree was able to be that kind of player. Maybe Jason Smith, too.

But it's always interesting to me to see the kind of work that Lahman has developed on a grand scale for the NFL and compare it to the Big 12 schools.  

I just wish some other researchers would feel as passionate about college football history, too.

The best NFL players for each Big 12 team

April, 22, 2009
4/22/09
4:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I got a lot of good feedback last week after I detailed a post that listed the top NFL player from each Big 12 school in the modern era.

ESPN Stats & Information went back through every draft of the modern era -- since the NFL-AFL merger -- to determine the players who accomplished the most during their NFL careers.

The rankings were based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on the ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors.

Specifically, this was the criteria that was used:

THE POINTS SYSTEM

Players received points based on the following criteria, coming up with rankings for the 13,808 NFL players who have played since 1967:

Super Bowl loss (1 point)
Offensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Defensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Pro Bowl (2 points)
Super Bowl win (3 points)
AP All-Pro second team (3 points)
AP All-Pro first team (4 points)
AP Defensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Offensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Most Valuable Player (8 points)
Hall of Famer (15 points)

After popular demand, here's how the formula calculated the five most valuable NFL players produced from each Big 12 school. I'm curious what some of your thoughts about these players and others might be.

Remember, this includes only players who were drafted. So free agents like Wes Welker were not included.

BAYLOR

Mike Singletary 81
Mike Nelms 22
Vann McElroy 10
Gary Green 8
Thomas Everett 8

COLORADO

Dick Anderson 30
Cliff Branch 29
Mark Haynes 23
Chad Brown 15
Charles Johnson 14
Alfred Williams 12

IOWA STATE

Matt Blair 18
Keith Sims 9
Marcus Robertson 5
Otto Stowe 4
Karl Nelson 3

KANSAS 

John Riggins 25
Dana Stubblefield 24
Nolan Cromwell 21
Leroy Irvin 15
Larry Brown 14

KANSAS STATE

Larry Brown 34
Martin Gramatica 8
Barrett Brooks 3
Clarence Scott 2
Henry Childs 2
Terence Newman 2

MISSOURI

Roger Wehrli 44
Kellen Winslow 40
Eric Wright 23
Russ Washington 16
Mel Gray 12

NEBRASKA

Will Shields 44
Roger Craig 30
Neil Smith 28
Irving Fryar 17
John Dutton 13

OKLAHOMA

Lee Roy Selmon 46
Keith Jackson 28
Billy Sims 14
Roy Williams 14
Adrian Peterson 13
Greg Pruitt 13

OKLAHOMA STATE

Barry Sanders 93
Thurman Thomas 60
Kevin Williams 24
Leslie O'Neal 16
Dexter Manley 13

TEXAS 

Earl Campbell 65
Doug English 21
Steve McMichael 21
Bill Bradley 17
John Elliott 16

TEXAS A&M

Shane Lechler 31
Lester Hayes 29
Richmond Webb 28
Ray Childress 26
Sam Adams 13

TEXAS TECH

Zach Thomas 40
Curtis Jordan 4
Dylan Gandy 3
Maury Buford 3
Ted Watts 3
Timmy Smith 3

Source: ESPN Stats & Analysis Team

Best NFL players from each Big 12 school analyzed

April, 15, 2009
4/15/09
12:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There was a very interesting piece on ESPN.com's Insider earlier this week about the NFL draft. Some of the very fine number crunchers and statistic analyzers went back through every draft of the modern era -- since the NFL-AFL merger -- to determine the players who accomplished the most during their NFL careers.

ESPN Stats & Information ranked players based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on the ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors.

Specifically, this is the numeric criteria that was used:

THE POINTS SYSTEM

Players received points based on the following criteria, coming up with rankings for the 13,808 NFL players who have played since 1967:

Super Bowl loss (1 point)
Offensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Defensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Pro Bowl (2 points)
Super Bowl win (3 points)
AP All-Pro second team (3 points)
AP All-Pro first team (4 points)
AP Defensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Offensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Most Valuable Player (8 points)
Hall of Famer (15 points)

Here's how the formula calculated the most valuable NFL player produced from each Big 12 school.

  • Oklahoma State: Barry Sanders, 93
  • Baylor: Mike Singletary, 81
  • Texas: Earl Campbell, 65
  • Oklahoma: Lee Roy Selmon, 46
  • Missouri: Roger Wehrli, 44
  • Nebraska: Will Shields, 44
  • Texas Tech: Zach Thomas, 40 
  • Kansas State: Larry Brown, 34
  • Texas A&M: Shane Lechler, 31
  • Colorado: Dick Anderson, 30
  • Kansas: John Riggins, 25
  • Iowa State: Matt Blair, 18

Interesting numbers to say the least. We'll look at other items in regards to Big 12 schools and the NFL draft in the next several days.

Missouri's Mount Rushmore

February, 12, 2009
2/12/09
11:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

If there was a Mount Rushmore for Missouri football players, I can think of several notable figures who would deserve immortalization. Here are my four choices, along with some others who almost made the cut.

  • Johnny Roland -- All-Big Eight as a running back as a sophomore and later became an All-American at defensive back. He was the first African-American player to be a team captain at Missouri.
  • Don Faurot -- Namesake of Missouri's current football field was the inventor of the Split-T offense, a former Missouri player and the school record holder with 101 career victories in his 19 seasons. He's in the Hall of Fame for a reason.
  • Roger Wehrli -- Was a unanimous All-American selection during his senior season in 1968, when he produced seven interceptions and was named the Big Eight's Defense Player of the Year.
  • Chase Daniel -- He left school with back-to-back Big 12 North titles and virtually every school passing record in his possession. And some day, I bet all those View Masters that the school sent out to hype his Heisman candidacy will be worth something on eBay.

Among those I found it hard to keep off my Missouri mountain were Paul Christman, Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Maclin, Gary Pinkel and Chase Coffman. But those are the four immortals that I'm sticking with.

Anybody else have suggestions or comments?

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