The SaturdayBlitz.com countdown to college football season is now at 99 days. We have officially reached double-digits until kickoff 2013, folks.
• Donning No. 99 for the Pitt Panthers from 1977 to 1980 was defensive end Hugh Green. Green was a four-time All-American. Let me repeat: four-time All-American, and brought home an impressive haul of hardware in his senior season:
- Lombardi Trophy
- Maxwell Award
- Walter Camp Award
- UPI Player of the Year
- The Sporting News Player of the Year
Green recorded 53 sacks and 460 tackles in his four years at Pitt.
• 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart wrapped up three illustrious seasons as the USC Trojans starting quarterback with 99 touchdown passes. While his second season as starter was his Heisman campaign, Leinart’s most scores actually came in his debut season, immediately after replacing 2002 Heisman winner Carson Palmer. Leinart threw for 38 touchdowns in 2003.
• In the ’99 season, Wisconsin Badgers running back Ron Dayne captured the Heisman Trophy in one of the most lopsided ever. However, Dayne’s ’99 was not the best season of his career — that would be his 1996 freshman campaign, when he rushed for more touchdowns (21 vs. 20) and yards (2109 vs. 2034).
Behind Dayne were some noteworthy names: Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Michael Vick; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Drew Brees; and Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Chad Pennington. Pennington led Marshall to a perfect regular season, creating one of the first BCS invitation controversies, and led the nation with 37 touchdown passes.
Runner-up to Dayne was Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, who passed for 29 touchdowns but was intercepted 11 times. Hamilton rushed for another six scores, however. He also had one of his best games that season against eventual national champion Florida State.
Most recently, Hamilton was a running backs coach for Georgia State. Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson welcomed Hamilton back in March, hiring Hamilton as an assistant in the Yellow Jackets’ recruiting.
• 99 years ago, the Illinois Fighting Illini claimed the first of its five national championships — four of which were won over a 14-year span from 1914 to 1927. As was routine in the early years of college football, Illinois split the championship with Army and Texas, both of which also finished the year undefeated.
Leading Illinois were quarterback George “Potsy” Clark and halfback Harold Pogue. Pogue was an All-American selection in 1914. Clark may be best known for his unremarkable turn as Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach. In two seasons, Clark went 6-13. Almost makes the Bill Callahan era seem palatable, Husker fans?
He was athletic director at Nebraska for eight years, a decade removed from coaching the Detroit Lions to the NFL championship.