There are a number of good non-AQ players who have to replaced headed into 2011, so we pose the question to you: Who is going to be the most difficult to replace?
I narrowed the field down to five candidates. There are many, many more who are worthy of being on this list, from Greg Salas at Hawaii to Chad Spann at Northern Illinois to Dontay Moch at Nevada. But I felt these were the five biggest names, and five biggest impact players on their respective teams.
For me, the vote comes down to TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Dalton won a school-record 42 games at TCU, led two straight undefeated regular seasons and won a Rose Bowl. He helped TCU become one of the top non-AQ teams in the nation, and that led to an invitation from the Big East. So he has had an impact both on and off the field. His leadership was unquestioned.
But Kaepernick led the type of magical season never seen before at Nevada. He, too, has his name all over the school record books, and he too was the unquestioned leader of his team. The key difference for me is this -- TCU has become a national program and will continue to be a national program even without Dalton. We cannot definitively say the same of Nevada without Kaepernick. Just look at the preseason rankings. TCU is there. Nevada is not.
So ultimately, I think it will be more difficult to replace Kaepernick because the players that follow are going to have to maintain what he started. That might be possible in the Mountain West, but it is hard to know at this point.