If college football had a logo all its own, what would it look like?
Forget the NCAA logo. That doesn't count. It's an all-encompassing image for the governing body of college athletics. It's not specific to college football, nor should it be.
Rather, we're talking an separate logo for the sport -- think of the NBA's logo and its subject, Jerry West. West was a longtime staple with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player and manager. Though he's not universally considered the greatest player ever, his image was recognizable enough to become the face of the league, so to speak.
If college football could have a face -- or more specifically, an outline -- who would it be and what would it look like?
It would have to be instantly recognizable and timeless, one of those rare images with widespread appeal. In that way, we significantly cut down the list of viable candidates. If college football's logo depicted the best player or coach, the list of possible choices would be impossibly long and we'd never come to a conclusion.
For instance: Walter Camp basically invented football as we know it today. Why would he not be the face of the sport he radically improved? Bear Bryant, Knute Rockne or Pop Warner would have been worthy selections, too.
How about Chuck Bednarik for that matter? He was the greatest two-way player ever and the face of an entire era of throwback football.
See? Hard stuff. It gets a lot simpler when an image, not a player, is the foundation for this decision. With that in mind, here are four choices for to grace college football's fake, hypothetical logo.
Have your own ideas on who should be college football's logo? Make your voice heard in the comment section.
1. Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard: Here's the funny thing about Howard as a logo choice: His most iconic image is a borrowed one. Howard didn't create the Heisman pose on Nov. 23, 1991, against Ohio State, he just popularized it for a completely new generation.
In that sense, Howard took the whole "often imitated, never duplicated" thing and turned it inside-out. Not only did Howard strike the pose, he made it his own and improved up on it.
There are "Heisman moments" every year, but Howard's Heisman pose was a direct order to give him the trophy. That was it. Game over. Even though the pose was not his own, Howard made it his own moment.
Howard was already having a spectacular year before that moment. He led the NCAA that season in receiving touchdowns (19). His only punt return for a score in '91 was just the cherry on top. Howard would go on to claim all six voting regions and his margin of victory remains the third-largest in Heisman voting history.
2. Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie: As it turns out, Flutie can complete the rare (i.e. impossible) trifecta of being on a box of Wheaties, having your own cereal (Flutie Flakes) and being the logo of an entire sport. Not bad for a guy considered to be too small to play quarterback.
Flutie's Hail Mary against Miami (FL) in 1984 was, of course, his signature moment in during his Heisman-winning season. "Hail Flutie" has been re-told countless ways and even turned into a statue. However, Flutie was a prolific player for his time, too, becoming the first major college football passer to surpass 10,000 career yards, per Heisman.com.
The wind-up throw and subsequent celebration have equal pull when it comes to lasting images. Either way, it's one of the definitive moments in college football history.
3. Texas quarterback Vince Young: Unlike the prior two choices, Young wasn't a Heisman winner. Some thought he should have been after Texas defeated USC in the 2006 BCS National Championship. Even others felt Young should have received the Heisman in some honorary mea culpa when Reggie Bush had his trophy retracted years later for receiving impermissible benefits, but that's another conversation.
Regardless, it was Young, not Bush, who starred in one of the all-time great college football national titles. Specifically, it was Young's go-ahead touchdown on 4th and 5 with 26 seconds remaining that launched him into both Texas and college football lore forever.
Young tallied 467 total yards of offense and three touchdowns against the Trojans, who won 34 straight games and were a part of one of the great dynasties in the sport. This was by no means a David vs. Goliath type of game, but Young dismantled a team -- a program -- that looked unstoppable. And he did it almost single-handedly.
4. Cal safety Kevin Moen: Take a bow, Kevin Moen. How often do you have an unknown football player make his way into college football glory?
"The Play" between Cal and Stanford in 1982 was everything college football should be: chaotic, inconceivable, blissful for some, heartbreaking for others, and probably illegal (Dwight Garner's knee was down, or so they say.) There were several parts involved, too, which can make it difficult to focus on one person.
Still, Moen's role gets the most press because 1) he was the one who scored and 2) he took out a Stanford trombone player in the process. What's left is a timeless image of Moen celebrating in the end zone with a band nerd getting clocked next to him. The idea that anyone, not just a star player, could be immortalized is what makes college football great. In that way, Moen as a faceless outline is almost a perfect choice.