Running Back U?
The origin of this article was a question on my weekly Tiger-Eye Review post from TET member Zotus. He asked if I could run some numbers on the ‘Running Back U” claim by many NCAA institutions to see if there was any validity to Auburn’s claim.
This is what I found.
There have been countless discussions about individually famous running backs, either in the NFL or in college. Here are a few sample links to articles.
The problem I’ve found with many of these is they concentrate on athletes who were either individually successful both in college and the NFL, but skip the consistency that many schools have shown within the NCAA for all of their running backs, whether they later became famous in the NFL or not.
So in my analysis, I simply went with whether a school had a 1,000-yard rusher year to year. Not what they did in the NFL, not what they did in a single season, but what that school was able to do year after year to produce these achievements.
I started back just four years and included this year if a school had a running back with over 300 yards. This would give a five-year stat line back to 2014. I then looked back in five-year increments to 2009, 2004 and 1999 to give a 20-year recap of which schools produced 1000-yard running backs year to year.
Here are the results
The star in the first column is including this year as those teams all have a player with over 300 yards rushing so far. If this holds true, it will be the fifth year in a row for those schools. As you can see, this will also mean that Auburn should have a solid decade of that back to 2009 and will be just one shy of most consistent team in the NCAA in the last 20 years in this respect—Wisconsin.
So are we Running Back U? Absolutely within the SEC as there isn’t any other school close to us (highlighted in their colors) back to at least 1999. We may have to concede the NCAA title to Wisconsin but not by much after this year.