Stanford Football Mount Rushmore

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From Last Word on College Football, Jill Whisnant

Dear John Arrillaga,

We haven’t met, but I know you. Or rather, I know of you. You are a Stanford alumnus, a former athlete, a dedicated sports fan, a billionaire real estate tycoon, and a generous philanthropist. You also make it incredibly difficult for visitors and freshmen to find their way around the Stanford campus because nearly every building bears your name. Said another way, you are one of the most influential men involved with Stanford University. Although we have little in common aside from our mutual affection for Stanford and Stanford athletics, I have an idea that I think will interest you. With my vision and your political, and actual, capital, I know that we can bring this idea to life.

So here goes…

Stanford Football Mount Rushmore

We should carve the Mount Rushmore of Stanford Football into the side of the hills that border campus. Now, when I say “we,” I obviously don’t mean the two of us. You’re an octogenarian and I am a serial klutz with absolutely no artistic prowess. Oh no, that would be a terrible plan. In this case, we should utilize our very best resources: the students themselves. Why not, right? Stanford University is a place that prides itself on fostering and developing creativity and innovation, so why not let the kids try?  I bet if we ask the Registrar’s office, they would let us create a class called Stanford Football Mount Rushmore 101 (or SFMR 101, since everything at Stanford has an acronym) and enrolled students could fulfill their creative expression graduation requirement.

Stanford is a beautiful place, but what it’s been missing is a new, exciting structure or attraction. Sure, we have Memorial Church, Palm Drive, and Hoover Tower, but SFMR is just what we need to excite the next generation. This type of structure would be the first of its kind on a college campus, and Stanford would be leading the way. I’m looking forward to blazing this trail with you.

So, we’ve dealt with location (the hills), funding (you, obvs), and labor (freshmen). Our next order of business is to determine which football players to include. I have a few ideas:

  1. Andrew Luck, Quarterback, 2009 – 2011

In three seasons as a starter, he passed for 9430 yards and 82 touchdowns, ran for 957 yards and seven touchdowns, and won 31 games. Luck was a two-time PAC-10/12 Offensive Player of the Year, Maxwell Award winner, Walter Camp Player of the Year, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner and two-time Heisman runner-up. In 2012, he was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. He embodied the qualities of a quintessential Stanford student-athlete: athletically gifted, intellectually curious, and possessing the intangible qualities of leadership.

  1. Jim Plunkett, Quarterback, 1968 – 1970

First things first, Plunkett won the Heisman in 1970, and is to date the only Stanford player to take home the trophy. He got there by throwing for 7809 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per attempt, and was responsible for 53 touchdowns. He capped his senior season with an upset Ohio State in the Rose Bowl while adding some Most Valuable Player hardware.

  1. Troy Walters, Wide Receiver/Returner, 1996 – 1999

Between 1972 and 2000, Stanford went to exactly zero Rose Bowls. But the 1999 Troy Walters team changed all that (we won’t talk about the outcome). In Walters’ four-year career, he amassed 3986 receiving yards and scored 26 touchdowns. Additionally, he racked up 910 yards/three touchdowns on returned punts and 489 yards on kick-offs. No doubt that Walters served as inspiration for the many dynamic receiver-returners that Stanford has developed in the past decade.

  1. Shayne Skov, Linebacker, 2009 – 2013

Skov had a tremendous Stanford career, totaling 349 tackles, 17 sacks, and four forced fumbles. But his contributions to Stanford Football go far beyond his stat line. Sporting his signature eye black and Mohawk hairstyle, this vocal and emotional leader ushered in a new era of Stanford Football. He made Nerds cool. Skov’s defense was unwilling to accept mediocrity. Skov’s defense did not rely on the offense to score 50 points per game to win. No, Skov’s defense would bowl you over, hit you in the mouth, wear you down… over and over and again. To me, Skov represents new Stanford Football, the hard-nosed, competitive, “intellectual brutality” Stanford Football that is here to stay.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Arrillaga. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


Jill Whisnant

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