The overwhelming Heisman Trophy vote for Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, coupled with new Value Add Basketball Rankings showing Oklahoma’s Trae Young as the best basketball player of the century so far; gives the Sooners a chance to challenge Florida’s Tim Tebow and Al Horford as the greatest football-basketball duo of the century.
From the perspective of pure success, Tebow and Horford had no equal so far this century. The basketball and football teams combined to give the Florida Gators back-to-back-to-back national championships as Horford was the third pick in the NBA draft the same year Tebow won the Heisman Trophy.
It would be a few years before Tebow went 15th in the NFL draft, and unlike Horford he is not still playing in the pros, but having one of the best few basketball players of the year and the best football player of the same year (2007) be a part of three national titles is hard to beat.
However, from a statistical perspective, it can be argued that if Trae Young continues his incredible pace – which most recently included a stunning 39 points and 14 assists in an upset at No. 10 TCU – that this duo is better.
Despite controversy, Mayfield became one of only five players this century to get more than 80 percent of the Heisman votes to make it clear he was far superior to any other player in the country. By that measure, he is one of the top five football players of the century along with Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, Troy Smith and Reggie Bush. Barely half of the voters (52 percent) thought Tebow was the best college player in the country, with Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and Hawaii’s Colt Brennan thought superior by many. Whether or not a players’ pro career after college should be factored is an open question, but most believe Mayfield will be far superior to Tebow as an NFL quarterback.
As great at Horford was at both college and in the NBA, it did take him three years of playing college to develop to a point at which he could go pro as the No. 3 pick. The historic Value Add database shows he was the 298th best player his first season, then 55th, then finally 20th before going 3rd in the draft. While Young is currently projected to go in the same No. 3 spot in the upcoming draft, that is his stock during his first season when Horford ranked only 298th. In fact, Young is the first freshman this century with a Value Add ranking indicating he is more than two points per game better than anyone else in the country – better than even Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.
If you accept these statistic measurements indicating that Mayfield is one of the top five football players of the century and thus ranks ahead of Tebow, and Young is on pace to be the greatest basketball player of the century and thus better than Horford, then it appears Tebow and Horford could be dethroned as the best duo of the country. Of course for Michael Jordan and all those who believe you start with championships, Mayfield will need to beat Georgia Monday night and then the Alabama-Clemson winner for the title to cut the deficit to three to one in championships, and March Madness is still a long way off for Young.