Bart Doan: @TheCoachBart
I always have a tough time with these, because if you really break it down, everyone in every era is playing by the same rules as their competitors. So it’s too easy to say, “yuck, yuck, they played with leather helmets back then. Yuck, yuck, these teams today would destroy them.” But what the hell is this argument? Is it “best team of all time relative to their era” or is it “if Team A and Team B lined up against one another today, who would win?”
If it’s the latter, don’t be stupid. Obviously today’s athletes would run roughshod over those from 50, 70, 90 years ago. But the rules and playing field was different then. You can only play the hand you’re dealt, right?
If you’re looking all time, regardless of era, how can you go against the 1901 Michigan Wolverines, the famed “Point a Minute” squad that hung up an 11-0 record while outscoring opponents 550-0 over the course of the season. Granted, they couldn’t come within 70 of Louisiana Monroe today, but that wasn’t the lot they were cast against.
If you’re looking to go a little more conversational and modern, it’s the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. I know everyone else will take something mid-90’s Nebraska Cornhuskers, but how do you settle these arguments? These are games played in different systems, eras sometimes, and even with different rules. How do you compare greatness by decade or generation? The only thing that really maintains the same would probably be the players and how the move on to success after their college careers.
Folks chide the, “what they did in the NFL argument,” but absent teams being able to play one another in their eras, how the hell else do you compare clubs? On that Miami team that went undefeated was a staggering 38 NFL draft picks and a ridiculous 17 first round picks. Folks can say, “but Nebraska blew folks out left and right.” Who cares. Maybe it was a down year for college football.
The stuff is impossible to really know. The only real entertainment entity that stands the test of time and can be compared is music. What was great in the 60’s and 70’s very well may be better than what is now (hint: it was). Technology hasn’t changed much in that realm. But in sports, it has. So all time, give me 550-0 and in the modern era, give me a team stacked with NFL superstars in Miami.
(Photo by Eliot Schechter/Getty Images)