College football season is upon us. Thank God. In an age where the pro teams threaten their home towns with relocation in order to get citizens to build billion dollar stadiums, and where franchise icons will switch teams late in their career just to make $25 million instead of $20 million, college football gives us two things no other sport can provide to such a great degree: tradition and loyalty.
Your school sucks this year? Doesn’t matter. They are your school. They’ve been around for 100 years, they aren’t going anywhere, and neither are you. And that is priceless.
Today, because we’re pumped up for all the tradition and pageantry that comes with the college football season, we’re going to take a look at the best statues of college football legends from around the land.
Go (insert your team name here)!
On paper it seems kind of strange to erect a statue of a guy who is only starting his seventh season as your head coach. However, when that guy is Nick Saban, and he's won three National Championships in the six previous seasons, yeah, he gets a statue.
20. Nick Saban (Alabama)
As good as Saban has been, however, he's still got a long way to catch up to Paul "Bear" Bryant. He won a whopping six National Titles during his tenure from 1968 to 1982.
19. Paul Bear Bryant (Alabama)
I know what you're thinking: Tim Tebow? Legend? Really?
But it really is true. Tebow may not be an NFL legend, but he did win the Heisman and two National Championships with the Gators. I think that qualifies as "legendary."
18. Tim Tebow (Florida)
What did Knute Rockne do? Oh, not much. He just won four National Championships, made Notre Dame Football what it is, and invented (okay, popularized) the forward pass. No big deal.
17. Knute Rockne (Notre Dame)
After winning a National Championship at Boston College in 1940, Leahy weaselled out of his contract there and moved to his alma mater, Notre Dame. There he won four more Championships...over just the next seven years. He finished his career with the second-best winning percentage (.864) in college football history—right behind Knute Rockne.
16. Frank Leahy
All Earl Campbell did to earn his trophy at Texas was win the Heisman, get selected #1 overall in the draft, and get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So, you know, they're practically giving statues away in Austin.
15. Earl Campbell (Texas)
Old Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles to 12 ACC titles and two National Championships. Plus, thanks to the 111 wins the NCAA vacated from Joe Paterno, he's now first in wins among Division I-FBS coaches, and third among all coaches.
14. Bobby Bowden (Florida State)
Miami University (Ohio) doesn't have any championships to its credit. However, the program does have a pretty cool nickname: Cradle of Coaches.
You see, a number of very famous and important football coaches got their start at Miami before moving on to bigger and better things. And since the school really is not going to be winning any championships any time soon, they've decided to embrace the legacy they have by creating statues of legendary coaches who achieve their greatest success at other schools.
One of those guys is Notre Dame great Ara Parseghian—a.k.a. the good coach in Rudy. Under Parseghian, beginning in 1964, Notre Dame ended it's streak of five straight losing seasons and became contenders again. Then they went and won two National Championships.
13. Ara Raoul Parseghian (Miami Ohio)
Another of the guys who achieved fame elsewhere but started at Miami was Bo Schembechler. He never won a National Championship in his 20 years coaching the Michigan Wolverines, but he did win 13 Big Ten titles.
12. Bo Schembechler (Miami Ohio)
Our third and final entry from the Miami "Coaches Who Led Everyone But Us To Greatness" Hall of Fame is Earl Blaik. He started as an assistant with Miami in 1924 and would eventually lead Army three consecutive National Championships from 1944-46.
11. Earl Blaik (Miami Ohio)
Even if Doug Flutie hadn't won the Heisman in 1984, he'd probably still have this statue at Boston College. It commemorates one of the greatest, most memorable plays in college football history.
10. Doug Flutie (Boston College)
Sadly, Nile Kinnick never went on to bigger and better things after Iowa. After winning the Heisman with the Hawkeyes in 1939, he went to law school for a year before joining the Air Force to go fight Nazis in 1941. Sadly, he was killed in a training flight in 1943.
So why does he have not just a statue, but an entire stadium named after him at the University of Iowa? Because apparently Kinnick embodied the ideal student athlete: honest, hard-working, intelligent, and eloquent.
One of the great legends involving Kinnick is that, in a crucial play late in a game against Michigan, after a last-ditch effort to score and win the game, he went over to the referees while they were deliberating and told them he did not cross the goal line, handing Michigan the victory.
That probably didn't happen, of course, but that the fact that people made it up says a lot about what they thought of him. And one thing that did happen was Kinnick's Heisman acceptance speech. Of that speech, one reporter at the time wrote, "You realized the ovation wasn't alone for Nile Kinnick, the outstanding college football player of the year. It was also for Nile Kinnick, typifying everything admirable in American youth."
9. Nile Kinnick (Iowa)
How big was Doak Walker in Dallas? Pretty damn big. Not only did the guy win the Heisman with Southern Methodist and get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His fame was so great in the Dallas area that, for a long time, the Cotton Bowl was referred to as "The House that Doak Built."
In other words, Walker played a crucial role in making football the biggest ticket in town in Dallas. So yes, that deserves a statue.
8. Doak Walker (SMU)
Steven Owens' pro career was cut short by knee injuries, but at Oklahoma he was an All-American, a Heisman winner, and one of the greatest running backs in school history.
7. Steve Owens (Oklahoma)
I guess you could say Tom Osborne accomplished a lot at Nebraska—13 conference titles and three championships in a span of four years.
6. Tom Osborne (Nebraska)
You might remember Ernie Davis' story from the movie The Express. He became the first black player to win the Heisman in 1961, but died tragically from Leukemia at the age of 23 before he could play in the NFL.
5. Ernie Davis (Syracuse)
Robert Neyland led Tennessee to four National Championships over the course of three separate tenures as the team's head coach. He accomplished this by being a defensive genius—112 of his 73 victories were shutouts.
4. Robert Neyland (Tennessee)
Unitas never led to Louisville to a National Championship, nor did he ever win a Heisman. However, he gets a statue anyway...because he's freaking Johnny Unitas.
3. Johnny Unitas (Louisville)
Considered by many to be the greatest college football player of all-time, Fighting Illini legend Red Grange also has one of the best statues in college football.
2. Red Grange (Illinois)
The 1924 Notre Dame backfield was comprised of Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden. Their collective nickname? The Four Horsemen? Yeah, it's one of the best nicknames in sports history. And man, does it make for one hell of a great statue.
1. The Four Horsemen (Notre Dame)
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