Big Ten Icons - #13 Ron Dayne

Submitted by Leaders And Best on October 26th, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Is this a joke?  I haven't had a huge problem with the players ranked in front of Woodson at #20 so far, but this is ridiculous.  Ron Dayne piled up some great stats, but he often came up small against the elite teams in the Big Ten at that time.   Unbelievable.



October 26th, 2010 at 10:29 PM ^

Dayne is the NCAA's all-time leading rusher.  There are probably Badger fans who think he should've been in the top 10. 

Just being on the list of 50 is a great honor. You can't really quibble too much about placement. 


October 26th, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

Q: How many Wisconsin fans does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two; one to change the bulb, and one to tell you how awesome Ron Dayne was.


October 26th, 2010 at 10:38 PM ^

Taking off my maize and blue glasses, I would think that the NCAA all-time leading rusher would be higher than #13.  I would certainly feel that way if any of our RBs held that record.  In addition to all of the NCAA records, Dayne won the Heisman trophy, and was only the third player to repeat as Rose Bowl MVP.  He also dominated the Rose Bowl games with 246 and 200 yards (both of which presumably against top level competition).  I would say that's very impressive.

Leaders And Best

October 26th, 2010 at 11:27 PM ^

If Mike Hart had finished as the all-time leading rusher and finished his career 0-4 against OSU, would you think he deserved to be in the top 10?  I would argue no.

For the record, I think MIke Hart ranks in the top 15 all time rushing so this scenario is not that ridiculous.  If he had not missed so many games to injury, he may have been in that stratosphere.

And those Rose Bowls are very misleading.  One of them was against one of the worst Pac-10 champs in recent history, Stanford(1999), who entered the game ranked #22 and ended the season unranked.  The other I will give him some credit for, but I will preface it by saying that UCLA team in 1998 had its heart ripped out and rush defense exposed after Edgerrin James torched them for 300 yards (better than Dayne in the Rose Bowl) in that Hurricane rescheduled game at the end of the season that cost them a chance to play for a National Championship.

Kilgore Trout

October 26th, 2010 at 11:36 PM ^

Mike Hart is an interesting person to bring up.  He is UM's all time leading rusher, but if I was putting together a list of the "best" running backs in UM history, I wouldn't put him at the top.  Top tier for sure, but I think Wheatley, Biakabatuka, and Perry at their best were better than Hart at his best, and that's just in my life time.  (I realize there is a whole "body of work" argument I'm ignoring)

OMG Shirtless

October 26th, 2010 at 10:39 PM ^

He holds the NCAA record for rushing yards. (There's some sort of qualification on this stat because teams play more games in a season now with a 12 game regular season and championship games).  He's a three time all-american. He has a Heisman trophy.  He has back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP awards, only 3 people have won back to back Rose Bowl MVPs, he's the only Big Ten player to do so.  

NOTE:  All these stats are wikipedia classics, so of course they could be completely false.

Leaders And Best

October 26th, 2010 at 10:54 PM ^

I am just disputing his ranking on it relative to Woodson.  He did not have the impact on the game that Charles Woodson or future players to be ranked like Red Grange, Archie Griffin, or Dick Butkus.

Because Woodson and Dayne played in the same era, I feel they are more comparable.  I don't think Dayne will have the long term legacy that Woodson will have.

Ron Dayne broke a record that stood for only one year.  Someone else may break it again in the near future.

Leaders And Best

October 27th, 2010 at 12:27 AM ^

Woodson was a demigod his junior year.  But don't forget he was one of the best corners in college football the year before.  I think you can make the argument that Woodson's sophomore year compares favorably to Dayne's junior year.

I agree though that his early entry in the draft probably affects his overall ranking, but in this current era of college fooftball, any player that good as a junior is going pro 90% of the time.

Leaders And Best

October 27th, 2010 at 12:02 AM ^

The order is just to be determined.

Jesse Owens, Magic Johnson, Mark Spitz, Archie Griffin, Red Grange, Dick Butkus, Isiah Thomas, Jerry Lucas, John Wooden, Mateen Cleaves, Nile Kinnick, and Tom Harmon.

I guess it is possible a random female athlete could knock one of them out, but I doubt it.

There is going to be a lot of Buckeye and Sparty in the top 12 (5 total) even without Eddie George, but most of them deserve it.  The only one I would dispute is Cleaves.  I am still flabbergasted that Mateen Cleaves is going to make it this high, but I guess looking at his resume could justify it. 

Leaders And Best

October 27th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

Anthony Thompson did not even make this list yet he held the NCAA record for most career TDs until it was broken by Ricky Williams.  I think he still ranks in the top 3 and was one of only 3 players in Big Ten History to win the Silver Football (POY) twice and finished second in the Heisman (probably should have won).

And he did this all at INDIANA.

In my opinion, Ron Dayne will have a similar legacy to Thompson, the major difference being that he won the Heisman and Thompson finished second to Andre Ware.


October 26th, 2010 at 11:24 PM ^

Dayne did jack shit against Michigan the three games he played against us...two of which were played in Madison. This fun fact makes it all the more humorous that they retired his jersey at a Michigan game.  Luckily for Wisconsin he wasn't playing and we got smoked by Wisc that year.


October 26th, 2010 at 11:36 PM ^

I stand corrected. +1

Either way...he wasn't good against UM so I tend to lose a little bit of respect against guys who didn't carve us up. The reverse applies as I usually amp-up respect for players who do (Troy Smith comes to mind).  I suspect he wouldn't have done very well against the '97 D anyway, although nobody really did.


October 27th, 2010 at 12:04 AM ^

Anthony Thomas, his contemporary, was a better back than he was. During the Dayne years Wisconsin never played anybody out of conference, and I bet most seasons he had over 600 yards after the third game. I grew up in Wisconsin and I remember him getting 250 yards by mid third quarter against the likes of San Jose State before hitting the bench, fattening up on cupcakes. (I'll leave the fact checking to somebody else). These lists ranking things that can't be quantified are generally stupid, but this one really burned me. He and Woodson should be flip flopped.


October 27th, 2010 at 12:45 AM ^

Anthony Thomas, his contemporary, was a better back than he was.

I'm sorry, but you're being a homer.  AT rushed for 4,472 yards.  Dayne rushed for 7,125.  He had two 2,000-yard seasons; no Michigan player has ever rushed for that many.  Some of you guys need to take off your maize-and-blue tinted glasses.


October 27th, 2010 at 11:23 AM ^

You're right that he may have overexaggerated, but you can't use the stats to compare.  As briangoblue says, most of Dayne's yards seemed to come from OOC games.  In my head, UM didn't run up the score or stats against the lesser opponents and Dayne did.  Thus, this could be the difference.

I tried to look up game by game stats, but didn't have time.  In the mean time, Dayne's 2000 yard seasons didn't count at the website I used as bowl stats weren't always counted at the time.  Dayne did it more consistently, but let's look at their Jr/Sr years to compare. 

Dayne had 268 carries for 1279 yards and 11 TD's and then 303 carries for 1834 yards and 19 TD's.  Thomas had 301 carries for 1297 yards and 17 TD's and 319 carries for 1733 yards and 18 TD's.  Looks comparable to me.


October 27th, 2010 at 2:47 PM ^

And Anthony Thomas gained 29, 12, 111 and 60 yards in his four games against OSU.  Pretty much every running back will do well against bad defenses and not-so-well against good defenses.


October 27th, 2010 at 11:46 PM ^

I really liked that Wisconsin did that; Texas was playing Ricky Williams at the end of terrible blowouts to pump his stats for the Heisman.  I was glad that Dayne beat his career rushing yards record the following year without Wisconsin having to resort to such tactics.

A funny thing I noticed looking at his game-by-game statistics: in his final year, Dayne had 2034 rushing yards on 337 rushes, and 1 reception for 9 yards.  That discrepancy is ridiculous.


October 27th, 2010 at 12:07 AM ^

I didn't think you could call a guy "iconic" if every time he came on TV I wanted to switch to another game because I knew exactly how the game would play out - Dayne would run his 250+ lbs at the line, knock a few guys back, and break maybe 1-2 long runs if the defense made a mistake.  He never did anything against UM, was horrible in the pros, and his per-game and per-rush stats were not really that impressive considering how featured he was in the offense.  I'm fine with him being in the top 20 or 25, but to have him above other Heisman winners from UM and great athletes/winners like Winnfield and Alford just seems ludicrous to me.


October 27th, 2010 at 3:09 AM ^

That's disgusting. Dayne is the worst Heisman winner ever. Mike Vick did his thing the same year, and most of Dayne's ridiculous yards came against Nobody State. Denard had better be #12.


October 27th, 2010 at 9:55 AM ^

My opinion on Ron Dayne?  #13 is way too high for him. 

1.)  His heisman trophy win was by default.  Peter Warrick of Florida State was the front runner for the heisman all year.  But he was arrested for grand theft stealing $800.00 worth of items from a department store.  FSU suspended him for 2 games because they didn't want him playing while charges were pending.  A ton of negative publicity in the national media ended his Heisman hopes.  He wasn't even invited to the Downtown Athletic Club.  If Warrick doesn't act like an idiot, he beats Dayne for the Heisman easily.

2.)  Can we please stop giving Dayne and Wisconsin credit for winning back-to-back Rose Bowls?  They beat a UCLA team in 1998 that had a defense which gave up an average of 42 points a game.  A great offense led by Cade McNoun but a horrid defense.  The following year, Wisconsin beat an 8-4 Stanford team in Pasadena.  This Stanford team got drilled by a 5 loss Texas team 69-17 and lost to a 7 loss San Jose State team.  The Cards most impressive win was against a 7-6 Oregon State team.  Many teams would have won back-to-back Rose Bowls with that type of awful competition.

3.)  Take a look at the non-conference competition Ron Dayne built his rushing record on:  Eastern Michigan, UNLV three times, San Diego State twice, Boise State when they were horrid, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ball State, Muarry State.  The best non-conference opponent Dayne faced was Syracuse in 1997.  Wisconsin lost 34-0 and Dayne was held to 47 yards. 

4.)  In conference, the Badgers missed quality opponents as usual.  Dayne didn't have to face Penn State (10-3) in 1999.  He didn't have to face Ohio State (11-1) in 1998... the bucks were the best team in college football that year.  Dayne didn't have to play Ohio State (10-3) in 1997 and he didn't have to play us in 1996.

5.)  When Dayne did have to play quality competition in the Big Ten, he was a non-factor.  He lost to Michigan 27-10 in 1998.  He lost to Michigan 21-16 in 1999.  He was kept in check in both games.  He was a non-factor in a 35-10 loss to Penn State in 1997.  He was a non-factor in a 33-6 loss to Georgia in the Outback Bowl.  He couldn't do a thing against a 9 win Purdue team in 97, losing 45-20.  His stats against quality and cupcake teams were like night and day.

6.)  I absolutely loved watching Dayne run all over the Buckeyes in Columbus in 1999 but OSU was a 6 loss team that year. You can't count that as an impressive win.

To sum things up, Dayne ran up insane numbers against teams that should probably be 1-AA and was horrid against teams that were relevant.  So what if he has the rushing record?  Look who he rushed against.  The fact that he is ranked above Charles Woodson just isn't right. 

Daytona Blue

October 27th, 2010 at 10:05 AM ^

I'm guessing the number shouldn't mean much as people in the forties were just as/more worthy than Ron Dayne.  Everyone here is right, chewed up lousy competition and was mostly bad against good competition. 

Is PJ Hill #14, as he was about the same thing.

Communist Football

October 27th, 2010 at 10:41 AM ^

In my opinion, career totals are useless -- all they tell you is that the guy started as a freshman because the upperclassmen were weak. 

If you go by career yards per game, with a minimum of 2500 yards, Ron Dayne is 6th with 148.8 YPG (the record-holder is Ed Marinaro of Cornell, 1969-1971, 174.6 YPG; O.J. Simpson is second with 164.4 YPG).

Single-season rushing totals tell you a lot more about whether or not a player is any good.  Tellingly, Ron Dayne isn't even in the top 25 in terms of single-season rushing totals: his best year was 1,863; the Big Ten record is held by Larry Johnson of Penn State, who ran for 2,087 yards in 2002. The NCAA record is held by Barry Sanders, who rushed for 2,628 in 1988.

In short, Dayne was a good back, sure. But Woodson is the only defensive player to have ever won the Heisman: a paradigm-shifting achievement.  To me that's worth a hell of a lot more.


October 27th, 2010 at 11:29 AM ^

If you took a poll of Big Ten fans of all teams to list Big Ten Heisman Trophy winners, I would bet my maize-colored glasses that Woodson and Howard were named before Dayne (with the exception being Wisco fans, of course).  Was Dayne "better" than Howard or Woodson,? Who knows and who cares.  But, I think that Howard are Woodson are both more "Iconic".


October 27th, 2010 at 10:59 PM ^

I would think that b/c these are termed Big Ten Icons that there should be something Iconic about the athletes. I'm having a hard time imagining anyone outside Madison caring about Ron Dayne at all. Lots of people care about what Charles Woodson did and he's still significant in college football lore. Ron Dayne, despite being the NCAA's leading rusher, isn't even brought up when thinking of the best RBs of all time IMO