Tag Archives: USC

Vincent’s All-Time Pac 12 Skill Position Team: Meditations on McLeod Bethel-Thompson

I have a feeling my team is going to be a lot more dysfunctional than Matt’s (and leaning more on players’ NFL careers as well). As you’ll see, I’ve placed a big emphasis on players who’ve outperformed expectations both on- and off- the field. As for how they would play together, good god, this team would be a train wreck. But, as the adage goes, you wouldn’t be able to keep yourself from looking at it. Anyway, on to the picks!

Quarterback: McLeod Bethel-Thompson (UCLA)

If you’re reading this blog, you likely remember/experienced/drank and sobbed through the 2007 Notre Dame football season. That 3-9 season was the worst in Notre Dame history, highlighted (lowlighted?) by 0-38 losses to both Michigan and USC and the team losing to Navy for the first time in 44 attempts. The team’s first win of the season was posted against a UCLA team that had their first- and second-string quarterbacks knocked out of action, forcing them to play third string walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a man whose name befits a law firm more than a football jersey. That game featured 140 total yards from the Fighting Irish (less than half of UCLA’s output) and no touchdowns other than a Jimmy Clausen sneak and a Mo Crum fumble recovery. Bethel-Thompson, seeing his first game action, posted  an inspired12/28 for 139 yards, 0 TDS, 4 INTS, and 1 fumble lost for a touchdown statline in UCLA’s 6-20 loss to the Irish. After that season, Bethel-Thompson transferred to D I-AA Sacramento State where he finished his career with a sub-50% completion rate.

You may have thought the McLeod Bethel-Thompson story came to an end after an uncelebrated stint in D I-AA football. Rational thought would lead you to no other conclusion. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that this man, this third-string walk-on scrub, was currently gainfully employed as a third-string QB for the Minnesota Vikings. I contemplated putting Matt Leinart in this slot; despite his pro failings, he had what was quite possibly the best career of any quarterback in college football history. But Leinart, unlike my man MBT, currently is without an NFL job and is getting shade thrown his way by his college football contemporaries who’ve gone on to bigger and better things. McLeod Bethel-Thompson, for succeeding despite all rational expectations to the contrary, you win the top spot in my All-time Pac 12 team.

Running Back: LenDale White (USC)

With all the “is he/isn’t he fat” discussion over Eddie Lacy, let’s not forget the contributions of unquestionably out-of-shape/shockingly effective LenDale White. White’s reduced to a punchline nowadays but his on-field accomplishments, namely forming college football’s most destructive “Thunder and Lightening” backfield with Reggie Bush  and vulturing double digit touchdowns from Chris Johnson, were nothing to shrug at. The real reason LenDale White holds a permanent place in heart, however, was his claim that he dropped 30 lbs solely by cutting Patron out of his diet. After cutting his tequila weight, White’s productivity took a sharp turn downward (see our first installment of Kwanametrics below), proving the football gods work in bizarre ways:

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Kwanametrics: Did cutting Patron help LenDale White?

In his halcyon, Patron-chugging days of 2008, White scored 15 touchdowns. After cutting it out of his diet, his production dropped to 2 touchdowns.

Conclusion: Cutting Patron did not help LenDale White.

Wide Receiver: Mike Williams (USC)

USC receiver Mike Williams had a stellar freshman and sophomore year at USC and then decided to put all his eggs into the Maurice Clarett legal train, believing he could declare for the 2004 NFL draft immediately after his Sophomore year. Silly Mike Williams! After having a positive lower court ruling reversed in the Federal appellate court by panel including none other than future Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, denying him and Clarett the opportunity to participate in the 2004 NFL Draft, Williams had no choice but to sit out an entire season of football. Despite sitting a year out of football, Williams was still drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions (as they are wont to do) where he underwhelmed before finding a short-lived career resurrection with Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. Becoming a millionaire (albeit briefly) and having my name tied to a high-profile federal court case are among my life’s goals, and Mike Williams, for having accomplished both of those things, I salute you.

Wide Receiver: Jeff Maehl (Oregon)

Not much to say about Jeff Maehl. Not much he would say about himself. Hard-working. High motor. While Darron Thomas and LaMichael James were scorching the earth and grabbing headlines, Maehl was the gritty, white man hustle glue that quietly put together the best non-Cam Newton college football team of 2010.  Here, enjoy this highlight video of Maehl set to similarly gritty rapper Eminem’s “Cinderalla Man” :

Tight End: Tony Gonzalez (Cal)

Undoubtedly the elder statesman of my All-Pac 12 team, Tony Gonzalez earns the TE spot for helping redefine the position was his versatile play and continually turning back the clock to rack up incredible statistics as he nears 40. A consummate professional, I was happy to see Gonzalez win his first playoff game last year as an Atlanta Falcon. It’s almost a disservice to him to place him on this mostly farcical list, but Tony Gonzalez definitely earns his spot as a member of my All Pac-12 team.

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Matt’s All-Time Pac 12 Skill Position Team: Are You Not Entertained?

For each conference, we’re picking our all-time favorite set of skill position players (1 QB. 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE). The purpose of this isn’t to pick the best players of all time, but just to pick and write about our favorites or throw together an interesting group of players and imagine what they would’ve been like on the field together.

If the Pac 12 has had nothing else, it’s had a bunch of colorful characters over the past couple decades, and those guys are the focus of my team. These guys (with one exception) would dominate the headlines for their antics, and they’d also be a pretty damn good team on the field. Here goes.

Quarterback: Ryan Leaf (Washington State)

leafRyan Leaf has become such a caricature that people forget he was actually a great college quarterback: in 1998, he finished third in Heisman voting and led WSU to a Pac-10 championship. But the real reason I picked Ryan Leaf (other than the fact that he, Marshawn Lynch, Keyshawn Johnson, and Gronks would form the Most Interesting Team in the World) is that he’s the most fun Pac 10/12 quarterback to Google. Here are some results on the first few pages of a simple search: “Are the Ryan Leaf Comparisons Fair for Johnny Manziel?”(Bleacher Report), “Why Jimmy Clausen is the Second Coming of Ryan Leaf” (Bleacher Report… Ryan Leaf is basically the human version of Bleacher Report, or vice versa, I think), a few dozen “turning over a new Leaf” puns, and this picture.

Running Back: Marshawn Lynch (Cal)

Beast Mode. Skittles. Grills. It’s only a matter of time before Marshawn Lynch becomes Cal-Berkeley’s 72nd Nobel laureate.

Wide Receiver: Keyshawn Johnson (USC)

C’MON, MAN! After all the USC hating in this blog over the past couple days, I’m picking a USC player? Yep. I actually don’t mind Keyshawn, though that’s probably because I’m too young to remember him playing for USC (though his numbers were ridiculous). He’s a pretty entertaining guy, and he’d fit in perfectly with Leaf, Lynch, and Gronks (though probably not with Mark Bradford: see below) to help make this Pac 12 ensemble one of the most brash and talented groups you could put together.

Wide Receiver: Mark Bradford (Stanford)

Who is Mark Bradford? Yeah, I didn’t know either, until I Googled “guy who scored the game-winning touchdown in Stanford’s huge upset of USC”. Mark Bradford is that guy. If you don’t remember this specific game, it was in 2007, USC was #1 in the Coaches’ Poll, and Stanford was 1-3 and a 41-point underdog. Long story short, Stanford mounted a fourth-quarter comeback that culminated in a game-winning touchdown reception by none other than Mark Bradford. He’s a bit of a misfit on this team of otherwise notably insane individuals, but he’s earned his spot. Though I forgot his name for a while (if I ever knew it), Mark Bradford will always live on as a legend in my books. 

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski (Arizona)

Actually, it might not be a good idea to put Gronks and Ryan Leaf on the same team. I doubt they’d last a full season without at least one of them ending up seriously injured, incarcerated, or both. But Gronks is both a beast (obviously) and just the right amount of crazy to fit into this team. To be honest, I don’t remember him playing in college at all, but that’s on me because his stats are pretty impressive. The combination of talent and entertainment value is too much to pass up here.

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