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The decade's best in college football

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Peter Schrager

Peter Schrager is the Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com and the national sports correspondent for FOX News Channel's "FOX Report Weekend." He's the co-author of Victor Cruz's New York Times' best-selling memoir "Out of the Blue" and lives in New York. Feel free to e-mail him at peterschrager@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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As we gear up for the start of a new decade of college football, it’s time to look back on the decade that was. Nicknamed the ‘Aughts by just about every publication and media outlet, we’ll go with that term, though we’re not sure what it means exactly.

With no further adieu, here’s my All-‘Aughts first and second teams, and our All-‘Aughts Honors.

ALL-'AUGHTS FIRST TEAM:

QB: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida, 2006-2009: Two national championship rings, one Heisman trophy, three trips to New York City as a Heisman finalist, 2 First-team All American honors, two SEC Player of the Year awards, and the SEC career record holder in rushing touchdowns. A winner, a scholar and the gold standard of what collegiate athletes should aspire to be.

RB: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas, 2005-2007: Two-time Heisman Trophy runner up, the first sophomore to win the Doak Walker Award, and the centerpiece of Arkansas’ revolutionary “Wild Hog” offense. McFadden had huge nationally televised performances during his junior campaign, in which he rushed for 321 yards vs. South Carolina, and 32 times for 206 yards and three TDs vs. LSU.

RB: Reggie Bush, RB, USC, 2003-2005: Bush won two national championships (an AP in 2003; BCS in 2004), played in two straight BCS Championship Games, won a Heisman, finished fifth in the voting in another, and amassed 3,169 yards rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on 433 carries (7.3 avg) and 1,301 yards with 13 scores on 95 catches (13.7 avg) in his three years at USC.

WR: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech, 2004-2006: Despite inefficient quarterback play in three years at Tech (my apologies, Reggie Ball), Johnson caught 178 balls for 2,927 yards and 28 touchdowns. Closed out his career with a nine catch, 186 yard, 2 touchdown effort vs. Virginia Tech in the 2006 Gator Bowl.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pittsburgh, 2002-2003: In just two years at Pitt, Fitzgerald caught 161 passes for 2,677 yards and scored 34 touchdowns. Fitzgerald finished second in the voting for the 2003 Heisman Trophy award, caught a touchdown pass in 18 straight games, and was recognized in 2003 as the Walter Camp Award winner, given annually by the organization for the best player in college football.

TE: Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Miami, 2001-2003: In three years, Winslow Jr. won a BCS title, caught 119 balls for 1,365 yards, and scored 9 touchdowns. Perhaps his most valuable attribute, though, was his blocking ability. While at The U, Winslow opened up holes for Willis McGahee and Frank Gore.

OT: Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa, 2000-2003: A consensus All-American in 2003, Gallery also was a two-time All-Big Ten selection. The 2003 Outland Trophy award winner, Gallery also started all 13 games at left tackle for the Big Ten champion 2002 Hawkeyes. Gallery didn’t allow a sack his entire college career.

OT: Bryant McKinnie, OT, Miami, 1999-2001: McKinnie didn’t allow a sack his entire college career. An All-American in 2000 and 2001, McKinnie finished 8th in the Heisman voting in ’01. In 2001, the Miami offense scored a school-record 475 points and averaged over 200 yards per game both rushing (204.6) and passing (250.2).

C
: Dan Mozes, C, West Virginia, 2002-2006: A consensus All-American in 2006, Mozes was the anchor of a West Virginia offense that broke rushing records with Steve Slaton and Pat White in the backfield. A four-year starter for the Mountaineers, Mozes won the Rimington Award his senior year.

OG: Steve Hutchinson, G, Michigan, 1997-2000: A four-year starter at Michigan, Hutchinson was a consensus All-American and the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the year in 2000. He didn’t allow a sack in his junior or senior seasons.

OG: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma, 2005-2008: A two-time-All American selection and the core of an offensive line that kept Sam Bradford upright and an offense that averaged an NCAA record 51.8 points per game.

DE: Elvis Dumervil, DE, Louisville, 2001-2005: Undersized and underrated, Dumervil emerged in 2004, his junior campaign, with 10 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. In 2005, he broke the NCAA single game record for sacks with 6 vs. Kentucky, and had 20 on the year.

DE: Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State, 2000-2002: In ’02, Suggs had an NCAA record 24 sacks in a season. An All-American, Suggs also won the Nagurski and Lombardi trophies. Suggs holds the NCAA record with 44 career sacks.

DT: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska, 2006-09: Suh led his team in tackles twice, finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy in ’09, and finished his career with 23 sacks. Days after his 4.5 sack performance in the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game, Suh swept just about every postseason defensive award.

DT: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU, 2004-2007: A national champion in 2007, Dorsey was a two-time first team All American, two-time All-SEC selection, and a winner of the Lombardi, Outland, Nagurski, and Lott Trophies.

LB: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State, 2005-2008: A three-time All-American selection, Laurinaitis won the Nagurski in 2006, the Lambert in ’07 and ’08, and the Butkus Award in 2007. Laurinaitis led Ohio State in tackles three years in a row and played in two BCS Championship Games.

LB: Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss, 2003-2006: Willis started four years at Ole Miss, was a two-time All-SEC performer, and won the Butkus and Lambert Awards in 2006. Willis finished his college career with 355 tackles, with 33 tackles for a loss.

LB: Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas, 2001-2004: Johnson had an unheard of 458 tackles in four years in Austin, including a 130 tackle season in ’04. At UT, Johnson was a two-time All-American, and a Butkus and Nagurski Award winner.

CB: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas, 2005-2007: The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the year in 2005, Talib had outstanding sophomore and junior seasons in which he was an All-Big 12 first teamer twice. An All-American in ’07 and the Orange Bowl MVP in ’08, Talib intercepted 13 passes and broke up 45 others in his three years in Lawrence.

CB: Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State, 1999-2002: Newman started every game in his four years in Manhattan and won the Thorpe Award, was a first-team All American, and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. During his senior season, Newman had four touchdowns, one on an interception return, two on punt returns, and one on a kickoff return.

Safety: Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma, 2000-2001: Nicknamed “Superman” in college, Williams was a two-time All American, a Nagurski and Thorpe winner, and the star of perhaps the greatest individual defensive highlight of the decade, leaping over a running back and sacking and stripping the ball from Texas quarterback Chris Simms in the 2001 Red River Shootout. Teddy Lehman recovered for a touchdown and OU beat Texas 14-3.

Safety: Sean Taylor, S, Miami, 2001-2003: One of four true freshman to play on the ’01 national champions Canes, Taylor had a historic college career in Coral Gables. In ’03, Taylor had a Miami-record 10 interceptions, including a four-game streak in which he had at least one interception in each contest. He played a key role in limiting fellow All-Decade team member Larry Fitzgerald to two catches for 13 yards in 2003 and won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award that season.

Kicker: Mason Crosby, K, Colorado, 2003-2006: In ’06, Crosby was named the Big 12’s Special Teams Player of the Week a conference-record eight times. A unanimous first-team All American in 2006, Crosby hit a 60-yarder his freshman year vs. Iowa State and a 58-yarder in ’05 vs. Miami. Crosby went 12 of 13 in fourth-quarter field goals in his career.

Punter: Daniel Sepulveda, P, Baylor, 2003-2006: Sepulveda’s the only collegiate player in NCAA history to win the Ray Guy Award twice in his career, and was a first-team All American selection in 2005. He ended his career in Waco with the third best punting average in NCAA history.

Return Man: Felix Jones, Returner, Arkansas, 2005-2007: In three years in Fayetteville, Jones amassed over 1,700 kick return yards and returned four kicks for scores.

ALL-'AUGHTS SECOND TEAM:

QB: Matt Leinart, QB, USC, 2002-2005

RB: Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma, 2004-2006

RB: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis, 2002-2005

WR: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech, 2007-2008

WR: Jarett Dillard, WR, Rice, 2006-2008

TE: Jeremy Shockey, TE, Miami, 2000-2001

OT: Jake Long, OT, Michigan, 2004-2007

OT: Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin, 2003-2006

C: Greg Eslinger, C, Minnesota, 2002-2005

OG: Branden Albert, G, Virginia, 2005-2007

OG: Max Jean-Gilles, G, Georgia, 2003-2006

DE: David Pollack, DE, Georgia, 2001-2004

DE: Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina, 1999-2001

DT: Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma, 2001-2003

DT: John Henderson, DT, Tennessee, 2000-2002

LB: A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State, 2002-2005

LB: Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State, 2003-2006

LB: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest, 2005-2008

CB: Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona, 2005-2008

CB: DeAngelo Hall, CB, Virginia Tech, 2001-2003

S: Ed Reed, S, Miami, 1999-2001

S: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee, 2007-2009

K: Nate Kaeding, Iowa, 2001-2004

P: Ryan Plackemeier, Wake Forest, 2003-2006

Return Man: Wes Welker, Texas Tech, 2000-2003

ALL-'AUGHTS AWARDS, HONORS AND LOWLIGHTS:

Team of the Decade: 2001 Miami Hurricanes: The Hurricanes scored 512 points (42.6 points per game) and yielded just 117 (9.75 points per game) in their 12-0 BCS title season. The ‘Canes led BCS No. 2 Nebraska 34-0 at halftime of the BCS title game and went on to win 37-14. The 2001 roster included future NFL stars Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Najeh Davenport, Bryant McKinnie, Mike Rumph, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., Roscoe Parrish, Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle, Vernon Carey, Vince Wilfork, Jon Vilma, D.J. Williams, Phillip Buchanon, Jerome McDougle, Eric Winston, and William Joseph.

Runner Up: 2004 USC Trojans

Coach of the Decade: Pete Carroll: In nine years at USC, Carroll had an 83.5% winning percentage, split a national championship in 2003, won a BCS championship in 2004, and went to another BCS title game in 2005. In the 2000’s, Carroll had a record six BCS bowl victories, won seven consecutive Pac-10 titles, and had a record 33 consecutive weeks as the No. 1-ranked team.

Runner Up: Urban Meyer

Game of the Decade: 2006 Rose Bowl — Texas 41, USC 38: The last time two undefeated teams met in a BCS Title Game, Vince Young responded to a second-place finish in the 2005 Heisman Trophy voting by torching the heavily favored Trojans and winner Reggie Bush for 200 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air. The two teams entered the game with a combined 53-game win streak. Young’s game-winning 9-yard scramble for a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining ended USC’s 34-game win streak and gave Texas its first national title since 1970.

Runner Up: 2003 Fiesta Bowl—Ohio State 31, Miami 24, Double Overtime

Upset of the Decade: 2007 Fiesta Bowl—Boise State, 43, Oklahoma 42: Though only favored by 7.5 points, Oklahoma was considered the heavy favorite over the undefeated WAC champion Boise State Broncos. Boise got out to an early 14-0 lead and were up 28-10 late in the third, but trailed 35-28 with less than a minute remaining in the game. On 4th and 18 with just 18 seconds on the clock, Broncos quarterback Jared Zabransky hit receiver Drisan James for 15 yards, who then pitched it to Jerard Rabb who scampered for 35 yards and a touchdown score. In overtime, Adrian Peterson scored right away, giving Oklahoma a 42-35 lead. Boise answered, then opted to go for two and the win. Ian Johnson converted on a statue of liberty play, proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend on national television, and BCS history was made.

Runner Up: Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, 2007

Officiating Scandal of the Decade: Oregon 34, Oklahoma 33, 2006: In this early season showdown between two BCS powerhouses, an onside kick by Oregon after its first late touchdown was touched by a Ducks player before it traveled the required 10 yards, but there was no such call made. Oregon got the ball. On a subsequent play, a pass interference call was made on Oklahoma, setting up the game winning score. Replays showed that the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage, thus nullifying any pass interference call. The Pac-10 officials and replay officials who worked the game were suspended by the Pac-10 a week later. Oklahoma fans are still burning over the missed calls in Eugene that day.

Runner Up: Pass Interference Call in 2003 Fiesta Bowl—Ohio State 31, Miami 24

BCS Bowl Game Performance of the Decade: Vince Young, 2006 Rose Bowl—BCS Bowl record 467 yards from scrimmage, 3 rushing touchdowns, connected on 20 of 30 passes, and a game-winning touchdown scamper with 19 seconds remaining to erase a 12-point fourth quarter lead.

BCS Bowl Game Performance Runner-Up: Matt Leinart, 2005 Orange Bowl--18-35, 332 yards, 5 Touchdowns, 0 Interceptions in 55-19 victory, winning USC’s first and only BCS championship title.

Non-BCS Bowl Game Performance: DeAngelo Williams, Memphis, 2005 Motor City Bowl: 238 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in a 38-31 win over Akron.

Non-BCS Bowl Game Performance Runner Up: Chris Johnson, East Carolina, 2007 Hawaii Bowl: 223 rushing yards, 153 return yards, NCAA record 408 yards in a 41-38 win over Boise State.

Non-Division 1-A Player of the Decade: Danny Woodhead, Chadron State: The onetime NCAA single season and all-time rushing record holder, Woodhead won two Harlon Hill Trophy awards, given annually to the best player in Division II. Woodhead ran for 7,871 yards and scored 109 touchdowns in four years at the tiny Nebraska D-II school.

Non Division 1-A Player of the Decade Runner Up: Brian Westbrook, Villanova: All-time NCAA record holder with 9,512 all-purpose yards. Westbrook scored 84 touchdowns in four years with the Wildcats.

Letdown Game of the Decade: 2008 Sugar Bowl, Georgia 41, Hawaii 10: Hawaii entered the 2008 Sugar Bowl with a 12-0 record and the highest scoring offense in football. Georgia came in and straight up manhandled them. Heisman finalist Colt Brennan was sacked eight times, threw three interceptions, lost two fumbles, and tossed for a season-low 169 yards in the loss.

Letdown Game of the Decade Runner Up: 2005 Orange Bowl, USC 55, Oklahoma 19

Play of the Decade: Zabransky-to-James-to-Rabb Hook and Ladder, Boise State, 2007 Fiesta Bowl

Play of the Decade Runner Up: Maurice Clarett chases down Sean Taylor and steals the ball back for Ohio State, 2003 Fiesta Bowl

Blowout of the Decade: 2003 Red River Shootout, Oklahoma 65, Texas 13: Three years after Oklahoma beat Texas 63-14, the Sooners beat the Longhorns 65-13. Jason White completed 17 of 21 passes and threw four touchdowns. He’d go on to win the Heisman a few months later.

Blowout of the Decade Runner Up: 2005 Big 12 Championship Game, Texas 70, Colorado 3

Best Coaching Hire of the Decade: Urban Meyer, Florida, 2005: Coming off successful stints in Bowling Green and Utah, Meyer signed a $14 million, 2-year deal with Florida in ’05. In five years at UF, Meyer’s won two BCS titles, has appeared in three SEC Championship Games, and accumulated a 57-9 record.

Best Coaching Hire of the Decade Runner Up: Nick Saban, Alabama, 2007

Worst Coaching Hire of the Decade: Rich Rodriguez, Michigan, 2008: Too soon to judge? Perhaps. But in two years at Michigan, the man Michigan men feared wasn’t a “Michigan Man” has gone 8-16, hasn’t played in a bowl game, finished in last place in the Big 10, and has gone 1-5 against rivals Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State.

Worst Coaching Hire of the Decade Runner Up: Bill Callahan, Nebraska, 2004

Ugliest Moment of the Decade: Miami-FIU Brawl, 2006: After a Miami extra point gave the ‘Canes a 14-0 lead in the third quarter, FIU safety Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Pereli to the ground and punched him the chin. When Miami players came to Pereli’s defense, all hell broke lose. Miami’s Anthony Reddick swung his helmet at the head of an FIU player, while future New England Patriots first round draft pick Brandon Meriweather stomped on an FIU opponent. An FIU player named A’Mod Ned, out with for the game with an injury, hobbled on to the field and used his crutch as a weapon in the brawl. Former Miami wideout Lamar Thomas, who was recently quite entertaining in ESPN movie “The U,” did the local broadcast for the game, famously said the following from the booth during the brawl: “Now, that’s what I’m talking about. You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don’t come into the OB (Orange Bowl) playing that stuff. You’re across the ocean over there. You’re across the city. You can’t come over to our place talking noise like that. You’ll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing.” He was relieved from his duties days after.

Ugliest Moment of the Decade Runner-Up: LaGarrette Blount’s punch, Oregon-Boise State, 2009

Quote of the Decade: Tim Tebow, 2008, after a 31-30 Florida loss to Ole Miss: "To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation, I'm sorry. Extremely sorry. We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal. It's something Florida's never done here. But I promise you one thing. A lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season, and you will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season, and you will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless."

Quote of the Decade Runner Up: "I'm a man! I'm 40!"—Mike Gundy, 2007

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