This is the opening week of USA TODAY Sports’ quest to determine the best college football player of all-time, and already voters are facing challenging decisions.
We set up our voting procedure like a March Madness bracket, and we don’t see many walkovers in our first-round matchups.
No. 1-seeded Dick Butkus has a difficult draw against No. 16 Bronko Nagurski, No. 8 Doak Walker and No. 9 Chuck Bednarik. Butkus is considered one of the toughest linebackers ever to lace up cleats, but Nagurski was a legendary tackler and fullback. Likewise, No. 3 Jack Tatum faces stiff competition from Red Grange, Bob Lilly and Billy Cannon.
THE CONTENDERS: Here is the list of 64 of the best players – vote now!
Known as the Galloping Ghost, running back Grange was considered by many to be the most dominant college football player of the 1920s.
The first round of our 10-week tournament includes four, four-player matchups from the Butkus Region (named after the No. 1 seed). You vote on the best in each matchup and they advance. Voting starts Monday and ends Saturday at noon ET. Once we whittle the field to 16 players, we will switch to a head-to-head format to determine the greatest college football player of all time.
Here are the Butkus Region matchups:
►No. 1 Dick Butkus (Illinois) vs. No. 16 Bronko Nagurski (Minnesota) vs. No. 8 Doak Walker (SMU) vs. No. 9 Chuck Bednarik (Penn)
►No. 2 Jim Brown (Syracuse) vs. No. 15 Doc Blanchard (Army) vs. No. 7 Sam Huff (West Virginia) vs. No. 10 Sammy Baugh (TCU)
►No. 3 Jack Tatum (Ohio State) vs. No. 14 Billy Cannon (LSU) vs. No. 6 Bob Lilly (TCU) vs. No. 11 Red Grange (Illinois)
►No. 4 Roger Staubach (Navy) vs. No. 13 John David Crow (Texas A&M) vs. No. 5 Ernie Davis (Syracuse) vs. No. 12 Paul Hornung (Notre Dame)
Here’s how you vote:
The first round will consist of four, four-player matchups. You vote on the best and they advance. Then the Tony Dorsett Region in a week. The Herschel Walker Region after that … and so on. Check out all 64 players in the race for the best of all time.