Bear with me a second because we're going to play a little game. I'll throw some names out and see if you can spot the common thread...

Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Phillip Buchanon, Mike Rumph, Jerome McDougle, Vince Wilfork, William Joesph, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Bryant McKinnie

Any guesses? You are correct if you said all are A) either NFL first round picks, Pro Bowlers or both B) part of the greatest collection of talent ever assembled or C) 2001 Miami Hurricanes. Pretty impressive, right? And these are just the guys that got significant playing time (all starters, except Gore and Wilfork). Future top-10 picks Sean Taylor and Kellen Winslow covered kick returns. Najeh Davenport, Brett Romberg, Antrel Rolle, Kelly Jennings, Vernon Carey, Rocky McIntosh and Roscoe Parrish were on this team. Herschel Walker was on this team.

No, I'm kidding about Herschel. But still, I know at least half of you didn't bat an eye. A hundred years from now, my great, great, great grandkids will tell stories about the '01 Hurricanes like they'll speak of the '27 Yankess, The Beatles and the cast of "The Godfather." These are assemblies of people that come together once in a lifetime. We're talking lightning in a bottle, winning lotto numbers, cherry-cherry-cherry-and-a-lapful-of-quarters kind of stuff.

In all, Miami had 21 first round picks spread out between the 2000 and 2001 teams. (Want to see something pretty incredible? Check this out, and be ready to use the scroll bar.) The former of these teams got jobbed out of a national title and, unfortunately for Steve Spurrier, took it out on the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. The '01 team turned into the just-as-good 2002 squad that was similarly cheated out of a title, but as evidenced by this video, under far more egregious circumstances. Give me a second. I feel sick to my stomach. A lot of things about the '03 Fiasco Bowl stick we me - fighting back tears walking out of the stadium, for instance - but the memory of a concussed Ken Dorsey tripping
over himself and then winging a pass to nobody on fourth-and-goal, after "The Call," is the one that is
forever seared onto my frontal lobe. If I get Alzheimer's at 90, this will be the last thing to go. I haven't
taken football as seriously since then, but I don't think it has been a conscious decision. That night was like
getting your heart ripped out by a girl. I mean, really, how do you feel again?

Spreadsheet of Destiny

Excuse the tangent. The UM rant should tell you that title teams stockpile NFL-ready talent (check the Spreadsheet of Destiny; it doesn't lie). So let's talk more about championship-caliber players. Specifically, let's talk about playmakers, game-changers, weapons. Call them what you will. They're the guys - on offense, defense or special teams - that can turn the outcome with one play. And you need to have them. The name "BUSH" comes to mind in big, bold capital letters because this is what I think of when I think "playmaker." Every one of these teams had its Reggie Bush. For FSU, it was the incomparable draft bust Peter Warrick. For '07 LSU, it was Early Doucet; for Miami, Ed "Instincts" Reed. Texas and '08 Florida played each offensive down under the best possible of circumstances because their Bush was at quarterback, touching the ball every snap. A game-changing quarterback, my friends, is the single most valuable asset in football. He's like a scoring point guard. And he wins championships.

That said, he's not filling a gap on fourth-and-two. Let me introduce you to Mr. Glen Dorsey - a boulder of a human being, a black hole of a D-tackle, the cornerstone of the '07 LSU Tigers. When the chips are on the table and your team needs to make a stop, you must - I said must - be stout up the middle. And if a great team's defensive tackles aren't great, you can bet that at least one of the two guys standing behind them is. At their best, middle linebackers and safeties direct traffic and erase mistakes. They sniff out the flanker screen; they make the open-field tackle; they, in short, right wrongs. Having a man in the middle - a ball hawk like Reed, a people mover like Dorsey or a field general like Rocky Calmus - portends good things to come.

And finally, championship-caliber teams control the line of scrimmage. I've talked about your D-tackle, but the other side is even more important. Dominating offensive linemen win rings. Period. To borrow a Yogi Berra line, "If you don't have 'em, that's why you need 'em." My father and I have a theory: if you can't get a yard, you can't win the national title. So far we haven't been proven false. The USC line cleared 2,000 yards worth of space for Bush and LenDale White in '04. Just as importantly, they gave their boy Matt Leinart all day, all night and Sunday to throw.

Which brings me back to Ken Dorsey, a guy who didn't have a hand laid on him for his entire junior season. In a recent conversation with a friend who shall remain nameless - Bryan Holt - it was tastelessly revealed to me that most people, even the most knowledgeable of college football fans, seem to discard Mr. Dorsey as a product of his environment - an NFL-like alalgam of names, talent, atmosphere, talent, buzz and talent.

Title Ring

Now, was The Pride of Orinda, CA throwing to future Hall-of-Famers Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne over the course of his career? Yes. Did he have at his disposal a stable of backs that put Pimlico to shame? Yes. Did he have an Outland Trophy winner/ walking mountain walling off his blind side? Yes. Was he protected like the president elect at an open-air inauguration? Was he handled as much as the Hope Diamond? Yes and yes. Did his mother ever have to worry about scrubbing grass stains from his jersey? No. No she did not.

But this stuff just adds to the legend. Look, Montana had Rice and Clark. Washington had Lafayette and Von Steuben. Charlie had the Angels. Plus I saw him at a golf tournament once, and he generates a Woodsian crowd. He rode brains, guts and a limp garden hose of an arm to a 38-2* career record. And he brought "The U" Moses-style back to the promised land. In short, he is the greatest Hurricane of all-time, and it's not like the pickings are slim.

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