IRVING (AP) – In the 15 seasons of the Big 12, the talent pool has been deep enough to produce perennial contenders for the national championship, the Heisman Trophy and all other measures of success.
But who was the best of the best?
Former Texas quarterback Vince Young, former Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops rose to the top in voting for The Associated Press’ all-time, all-Big 12 team, released Wednesday.
With the conference as we’ve known it going into its final weeks, the AP asked voters for this year’s all-conference squad to pick a team based on the league’s entire run. Voters were asked to take into account how a guy played over his entire tenure in the Big 12 and not to factor in whether the player became a star or a bust as a pro.
Suh and Young were chosen the top players on each side of the ball. Suh and Stoops were runaway winners in the voting by 20 writers from newspapers across the seven states.
Young was a narrow choice over another Longhorns star, running back Ricky Williams. Of the 26 position players chosen, Suh and Williams were the only unanimous picks.
Four guys were named on all but one ballot: Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson, Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen and Oklahoma safety Roy Williams.
Considering that Oklahoma has won six of the 14 Big 12 South titles already settled, and could grab another this season, it’s no surprise the Sooners dominate the list. Oklahoma led the way with seven honorees, five on defense.
Texas had six players honored, three on each side of the ball. Nebraska had four, two on each side.
Oklahoma State and Kansas State each had two players chosen.
There was one each from A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech, Missouri and Colorado. Kansas and Iowa State didn’t have any selections.
The Big 12 began in 1996, created by a merger of the Big Eight and the Southwest Conference. A conference team has played in seven BCS national championship games and four players have brought home the Heisman.
But after this year, Nebraska and Colorado are leaving for other conferences and the remaining 10 schools have decided to scrap their two-division, championship-game format and play each other every year. So this seemed like the perfect time for a nostalgic comparison of the top players — and to appreciate how tough some of the choices were, consider the players who did NOT make it.
Nebraska’s Eric Crouch won a Heisman Trophy and Oklahoma’s Jason White won a Heisman Trophy and played for a national championship, yet neither got a single vote. Neither did any of Texas Tech’s record-setting quarterbacks or Kansas State’s electrifying Michael Bishop. There was hardly any support for Sam Bradford, another Sooner Heisman winner who played for a national championship, or Texas’ Colt McCoy, who won more games than any quarterback in major college history and led the Longhorns to the national championship game last season.
Fans might claim a bias for or against teams in the North or South, but there were 10 voters from each division. As for the notion voters of votes being slanted toward older or newer eras, just look at the two unanimous picks — Williams played from 1995-98 and Suh from 2006-09. Williams was the first AP Big 12 offensive player of the year, Suh the most recent defensive player of the year.
Here’s the AP’s list , with a breakdown of votes received:
CENTER (1 selection)
Dominic Raiola, Nebraska (13 votes)
Also receiving votes: Seth McKinney, Texas A&M (3); Jon Cooper, Oklahoma (1); Randall Cummins, Kansas State (1); Rob Riti, Missouri (1); Adam Spieker, Missouri (1).
GUARD/TACKLE (4 selections)
Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (15)
Aaron Taylor, Nebraska (15)
Justin Blalock, Texas (13)
Russell Okung, Oklahoma State (12)
Also receiving votes: Andre Gurode, Colorado (8); Leonard Davis, Texas (3); Duke Robinson, Oklahoma (3); Chris Naeole, Colorado (2); Jason Smith, Baylor (2); Trent Williams, Oklahoma (2); Anthony Collins, Kansas (1); Chris Dishman, Nebraska (1); Toniu Fonoti, Nebraska (1); Richie Incognito, Nebraska (1); Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma (1).
WIDE RECEIVERS (2 selections)
Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (19)
Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State (8)
Also receiving votes: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri (5); Jordan Shipley, Texas (2); Mark Clayton, Oklahoma (3); Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (1); Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (1); Roy Williams, Texas (1).
TIGHT END (1 selection)
Chase Coffman, Missouri (8)
Also receiving votes: Daniel Graham, Colorado (7); Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma (3); Alonzo Mayes, Oklahoma State (1); David Thomas, Texas (1).
QUARTERBACK (1 selection)
Vince Young, Texas (16)
Also receiving votes: Colt McCoy, Texas (3); Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (1).
RUNNING BACK (2 selections)
Ricky Williams, Texas (20)
Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (16)
Also receiving votes: Darren Sproles, Kansas State (3); Ahman Green, Nebraska (1).
ALL-PURPOSE (1 selection)
Darren Sproles, K-State (6)
Also receiving votes: David Allen, Kansas State (5); Wes Welker, Texas Tech (4); Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (2); Brad Smith, Missouri (2); Jeremy Maclin, Missouri (1).
KICKER (1 selection)
Mason Crosby, Colorado (12)
Also receiving votes: Martin Gramatica, K-State (5); Jeff Wolfert, Missouri (2); Alex Henery, Nebraska (1).
DEFENSIVE LINE (4 selections)
Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (20)
Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (17)
Grant Wistrom, Nebraska (17)
Brian Orakpo, Texas (10)
Also receiving votes: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma (4); Darren Howard, Kansas State (2); Montae Reagor, Texas Tech (2); Justin Smith, Missouri (2); Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma (1); Dan Cody, Oklahoma (1); Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma (1); Casey Hampton, Texas (1); James McClinton, Kansas (1); Brian Smith, Missouri (1).
LINEBACKER (4 selections)
Derrick Johnson, Texas (19)
Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M (19)
Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma (12)
Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma (10)
Also receiving votes: Mark Simoneau, Kansas State (6); Rufus Alexander, Oklahoma (2); Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri (2); Jordon Dizon, Colorado (1); Lawrence Flugence, Texas Tech (1); Jeff Kelly, Kansas State (1); Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma (1); Carlos Polk, Nebraska (1); Nick Reid, Kansas (1); Matt Russell, Colorado (1).
DEFENSIVE BACK (4 selections)
Roy Williams, Oklahoma (19)
Terence Newman, Kansas State (16)
Derrick Strait, Oklahoma (10)
Michael Huff, Texas (8)
Also receiving votes: Aqib Talib, Kansas (7); Mike Brown, Nebraska (4); Ralph Brown, Nebraska (3); Aaron Ross, Texas (2); Earl Thomas, Texas (2); Nathan Vasher, Texas (2); Chris Canty, Kansas State (1); Ellis Hobbs, Iowa State (1); Quentin Jammer, Texas (1); R.W. McQuarters, Oklahoma State (1); Mike Minter, Nebraska (1); Dwayne Slay, Texas Tech (1); Jason Webster, Texas A&M (1).
PUNTER (1 selection)
Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor (15)
Also receiving votes: Shane Lechler, Texas A&M (5).
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Vince Young, Texas (10)
Also receiving votes: Ricky Williams, Texas (7); Colt McCoy, Texas (2); Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (1).
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (16)
Also receiving votes: Roy Williams, Oklahoma (2); Derrick Strait, Oklahoma (1); Grant Wistrom, Nebraska, (1).
TOP COACH: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma (18)
Also receiving votes: Mack Brown, Texas (1); Bill Snyder, Kansas State (1).
VOTERS: Lee Barfknecht, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald; Kelly Beaton, Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier; Kirk Bohls, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram; Chuck Carlton, The Dallas Morning News; Robert Cessna, Bryan Eagle; Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News; Vahe Gregorian, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Bill Haisten, Tulsa (Okla.) World; Kevin Haskin, Topeka Capital-Journal; Brian Howell, Longmont (Colo.) Daily Times-Call; Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Bobby La Gesse, Ames (Iowa) Tribune; Dave Matter, Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune; Kyle Ringo, Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera; John Shinn, Norman (Okla.) Transcript; Jake Trotter, The Oklahoman; John Werner, Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald; Don Williams, Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal.
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