College football has seen plenty of great teams over the decades but one always stands out when I'm asked for the best team of all-time.
The 2001 Miami Hurricanes.
First of all, they had the best play-by-play man in the business, but his name escapes me at the moment. Maybe I should ask Marc Vandermeer, he might know that one (Here's your hint - it was Marc).
On the field, though, the 2001 Hurricanes weren't just champions; they took The U to a different stratosphere. They went 12-0 and finished the season with a resounding 37-14 win over the Nebraska Huskers in the 2002 Rose Bowl to win the 2001 National Championship. That game wasn't even that close to be honest.
In fact, the Hurricanes gave up 117 points all season long, just under ten points per game. They gave up seven or less points eight times. The offense put up 42.7 points per game. That's right, they outscored teams 42.7-9.8. They beat five ranked teams by a combined 236-72 (an average beating of 47-14). It was the best team I ever saw. Period. End of story.
One aspect of its greatness was the legacy that it spawned at the next level. 38 members of that team were selected in subsequent NFL Drafts and 17 of them were taken in the first round. No team in history can even come close to that number. 13 of those players eventually earned a Pro Bowl berth.
I bring this up because the 2001 Hurricanes continue to add to that legacy 15 years later in the NFL, in particular, in the AFC South. There are eight position players in the division that have played 12 or more years in the NFL. Keep in mind that's eight of 200 possible players (212 minus 12 specialists). As such, 3.7% of the division has a dozen or more years in longevity in the division.
Three of those eight position players came from the 2001 Hurricanes roster. Two of them will meet on Sunday night in NRG Stadium and one made Houston his home for a dozen years. Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (13 years) and Colts running back Frank Gore (12 years) were freshmen on that 2001 Hurricanes squad, but were key contributors in that glorious season. Titans receiver and former Texans great Andre Johnson (14 years) was the Hurricanes' top receiver and capped his 2001 season with a stellar Rose Bowl performance against Nebraska. The three have combined for 17 Pro Bowl appearances and, even though they are definitely on the back nine of their careers, these three are still making significant contributions to their respective squads.
No team, before or since, has made an impact on the next level quite like that one and it continues to do so to this day...or night, Sunday night, to be exact.