The NCAA Basketball tournament is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. The excitement of the upsets and last-second shots is second to none. Even though the tournament hasn’t started, we wanted to put together a twist of our own. Oklahoma has a rich tradition in which it has had its share of outstanding players. There were so many to choose from but we whittled the list down to the top 64 spanning seven decades. One of the most interesting aspects of the NCAA tournament is the discussion around the seeding. Let the debate begin. Now, we get right into it as we break down the greatest players in Oklahoma football history.
Lee Roy Selmon Region First-Round Matchups
(1) Lee Roy Selmon vs (16) Greg Roberts
Barry Switzer called this particular Selmon brother the best player regardless of position to ever wear the crimson and cream. As a back to back All-American in 1974 and 1975, Selmon had 28 sacks from his defensive end position. Greg Roberts was one of the best offensive linemen in the 70’s. In 1978, he was a unanimous All-American and the Outland Trophy winner. Unfortunately for Roberts, this one was dominated by Selmon from the beginning by a count of 572-4.
Winner: Lee Roy Selmon
(8) Billy Vessels vs (9) Jermaine Gresham
Now, it’s either a testament of how deep the talent pool is or an indictment on the seeding that Billy Vessels is an eight seed. Be that as it may, we have the toss-up eight vs nine matchup between Vessels and Jermaine Gresham. Vessels was the 1952 Heisman Trophy winner with 1,072 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. Gresham, one of the most athletic players in the Bob Stoops tenure had his best season in 2008 having over 900 yards receiving 14 touchdowns. Even though this was fairly close, Vessels and the Heisman Trophy was the trump card in the 363-226 triumph.
Winner: Billy Vessels
(4) Keith Jackson vs (13) Rufus Alexander
Two of the best tight ends in Oklahoma football history in back to back matchups. However, no matter who you compare him to Keith Jackson always ends up on top. In this day and age, he could be a 1,500-yard receiver in the NFL. Be that as it may, he still had over 1,600 yards and a 23.7 yards per catch average in his career. Rufus Alexander was a fan favorite of his own. In 2006, he was a first-team All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. However, Alexander was no match for the Sooner legend. Jackson takes the decision 443-100.
Winner: Keith Jackson
(5) Trent Williams vs (12) Landry Jones
How could the all-time leading passer at Oklahoma be a 12-seed? For all of the great things that Landry Jones did, he is most remembered by his inconsistency. Even so, he threw for over 12,000 yards and 123 touchdowns in his Sooner career. Trent Williams was essentially a four-year starter for Oklahoma in his career. In 2008 and 2009, Williams was first-team all-big 12 and was a consensus All-American in 2009. He was the number four overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft. It’s not often that an offensive lineman wins a popularity contest over a quarterback. But, it happened here as Williams wins 451 to 189.
Winner: Trent Williams
(6) Rocky Calmus vs (11) Elvis Peacock
This is certainly the best “name” matchup of the tournament. How could you go wrong with choosing between Elvis and Rocky? Both players have signature moments in the annals of Sooner football history. First of all, Calmus was pivotal in the revitalization of the Oklahoma program and one of his defining moments was when he intercepted Chris Simms in the 2000 Red River Rivalry and returned it for a pick six. Now, Peacock was sandwiched between two of the best running backs in Joe Washington and Billy Sims. But, he ran for over 2,000 yards in his Sooner career. His hook and ladder play against Nebraska still lives in infamy among the greatest plays ever. However, Calmus makes quick work of Peacock in this matchup by a score of 451-87.
Winner: Rocky Calmus
(3) Sam Bradford vs (14) Antonio Perkins
Bradford has a special place in many Sooner fans heart. First, he’s a local kid. More importantly, he led the Sooners to back to back Big 12 championships, won a Heisman Trophy and was instrumental in getting the Sooners to a national championship game in 2008. Perkins is the best punt returner in school history with eight returns for a touchdown in his career. He ranks second all-time in career punt returns for touchdowns nationally. He was a unanimous All-American for the Sooners in 2003. Unfortunately for Perkins, he went up against the best quarterback not named Mayfield in Sooner football history. Bradford wins the matchup easily by a count of 484-41.
Winner: Sam Bradford
(7) Dewey Selmon vs (10) Jammal Brown
Here, we have the second of the three Selmons facing off against a mammoth offensive lineman. Dewey Selmon was a two time All-American at Oklahoma in 1974 and 1975. In fact, he was quite instrumental in a Sooner defense that surrendered eight point and 13 points respectively in back to back national championships. Conversely, Brown forged himself into one of the best offensive linemen in the early 2000’s. Brown was a unanimous Big 12 and All-American selection in 2004 along with the Outland Trophy winner. Additionally, he was the 13th overall selection in the 2005 NFL draft. However, the Selmon name brings it home as he advances in our tournament by a score of 321-79.
Winner: Dewey Selmon
(2) Brian Bosworth vs (15) Mark Hutson
Bosworth is the single most polarizing figure in Sooner football history. Outside of Lee Roy Selmon, he is probably the best defensive player to ever play at the school. He was a two-time Butkus Award winner and consensus All-American in 1985 and 1986. Mark Hutson and Bosworth were actually teammates. His claim to fame was a touchdown run from 29 yards out via the “fumblerooski” in the 1987 Orange Bowl. Aside from that, he was the anchor of an offensive line that rushed for 500 yards per game in 1987. But, this one was inevitable with such a player as Bosworth was. The Boz takes the contest 302-3.
Winner: Brian Bosworth
We will begin the Baker Mayfield region play this week with another eight first-round matchups. A couple of names to look out for is Mayfield, Tommie Harris, Greg Pruitt, Joe Washington, and Roy Williams.