It is currently a dark, dark time for Boiler football, but most of us remember the good, pre-Fumble times. We remember the all-time greats that hopefully will have some sort of place of honor on the new South End Zone project that is in the planning stages at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Big Ten Network is ahead of Morgan though, because later this month they will be producing a series on the "Mount Rushmore" of football players for every school in the league. Two schools will be featured on every TV episode, and they will regularly write about this on BTN.com. They have asked to partner with the SB Nation team blogs on this project, so I am more than happy to help.
First, here are the ten official nominees from Purdue:
Mike Alstott (1992-95)
- Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee, 2006
- Only three-time team MVP in school history
- Left Purdue with career school records for rushing yards, total yards and touchdowns scored
- Earned All-American honors, 1995
- Six-time NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XXXVII Champion (Buccaneers)
Otis Armstrong (1970-72)
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 2012
- Named to Purdue's "All-Time Team" in 1987
- Purdue's Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee in 1997
- Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award, 1972
- Broke Purdue's single-season rushing record as sophomore & senior (1.361)
Drew Brees (1997-2000)
- Maxwell Award winner (nation's top player)
- Finished 4th in 1999, 3rd in 2000 Heisman Trophy voting
- Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award, 2000
- Left Purdue with two NCAA,13 Big Ten and 19 school records
- MVP & Champion, Super Bowl XLIV
Bob Griese (1964-66)
- College (1984) & Pro (1990) Football Hall of Fame Inductee
- Named to Purdue's All-Time Football Team, 1987
- Finished 2nd in Heisman Trophy voting, 1966
- Two-time consensus All-American (1965-66)
- Two-time Super Bowl Champion (VII & VIII)
Mark Herrmann (1977-80)
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 2000
- Finished 4th in Heisman Trophy voting, 1980
- Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award winner, 1980
- MVP of Peach (1978), Bluebonnet (1979) & Liberty Bowls (1980)
- Finished career as NCAA's all-time leading passer (9,946 yds)
Leroy Keyes (1966-68)
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 1990
- Named to Purdue's "All-Time Team" in 1987 as a RB and DB while being selected school's "All-Time Greatest Player"
- Finished 3rd (1967) and 2nd (1968) in Heisman Trophy voting
- Two-time consensus All-American (1967-68)
- Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award, 1967
Mike Phipps (1967-69)
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 2006
- Finished 2nd in Heisman Trophy voting, 1969
- 1969 Sammy Baugh (nation's top QB) & Chicago Tribune Silver Football Awards
- Two-time All-Big Ten selection, 1967 & 1969
- Became first QB to beat Notre Dame three times (Irish were in Top 10 each time)
Duane Purvis (1932-34)
- Two-time All-American (1933-34)
- Was Purdue's all-time leading rusher from 1934-1968 (1,802 yds)
- Helped Boilermakers capture 1932 Big Ten Championship
- One of Purdue's "Touchdown Twins" in the 1930's (with Jim Carter)
- Two-time NCAA Javelin champion (School record stood until 1982)
Dave Rankin (1938-40)
- Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee, 1998
- Member of Sports Illustrated's Silver Anniversary Football All-American team, 1965
- Two-time consensus All-American (1939-40)
- Served as Boilermakers Track & Field Coach, 1946-1981
- Served as a fighter pilot for US Marines during World War II
Rod Woodson (1983-86)
- Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee, 2003
- Two-time All-American (1985-86), three-time All-Big Ten selection (1984-86)
- Left Purdue with 13 school records including career interceptions
- NFL's 75th Anniversary team, NFL's 1990's All-Decade team, Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee (2009)
- His 1987 60-meter hurdles performance (7.61) stood as the NCAA record for 10 years
As a special note Purdue sort of has an 11th player on the list too, though we cannot vote for him. Alex Agase was selected as a nominee for Illinois, but due to World War II training he played the 1943 season at Purdue and was an All-American at guard.
Below you will be able to vote on the four players for Purdue's Mount Rushmore, but here are some of my thoughts on the 10.
Mike Alstott - Alstott was a damn rampaging beast and if there was ever one player that almost single-handedly dragged Purdue to a bowl game, it was him. Only the colossal ineptitude of Jim "A tie is as good as a win in the Big Ten" Colletto could spoil the prime of having Alstott. He still holds the Single-season and Purdue career rushing records, but in the three years he was a featured back Purdue was 9-23-3. It certainly was not Alstott's fault, Especially when the Boilers started 4-1 in 1994 but sputtered to a 4-5-2 finish. When I was 15 he walked past me after the Minnesota game in 1994 and I kid you not a single one of his thighs was as big as my waist.
Otis Armstrong - Armstrong was Alstott before Alstott was cool. My dad was a student during his tenure and I heard stories that Purdue had only one play: Otis up the middle. Ultimately, it didn't matter much because this was during the infamous 10-year War between Michigan and Ohio State, but Otis did win the Chicago Tribune silver football as Big Ten MVP. That is pretty impressive when it was during a team when where eight of the 10 Big Ten schools didn't even matter.
Drew Brees - It is Breesus. He is my hetero man crush and as I once said, after the Brees-to-Morales play if he had said he was next going to walk across the Wabash I would have followed him down to the riverbank. I don't think we have enough room here to list his credentials for being on the mount.
Bob Griese - Griese was all-everything at Purdue, even spending some time on the basketball and baseball teams. He was 12-1 as a baseball pitcher and also punted and kicked for football. He led Purdue to its only Rose Bowl victory and he won two Super Bowls, including the only undefeated Super Bowl champ. He is a member of both the college and Pro Hall of Fame with his No. 12 jersey possibly second only to Brees'. He was also the 1966 runner-up to Steve Spurrier for the Heisman.
Mark Herrmann - While Griese won a ton of games, Herrmann was one of the first Purdue QBs to put up truly eye-popping numbers. He is the only Purdue quarterback to win three bowl games too. He held pretty much every significant Purdue and Big Ten passing record until that Brees guy came along.
Leroy Keyes - He played with two great quarterbacks in Griese and Phipps, but Keyes helped make them great by being a stunning all-around athlete. Keyes played both running back and safety in his day and was a badass at both. He came the close to winning the Heisman, finishing as runner-up to O.J. Simpson in 1968. He also has murdered two fewer people than O.J. Keyes is still ridiculously high on Purdue's yards from scrimmage list almost 50 years later.
Mike Phipps - I think Phipps is severely underrated in Purdue history because he never played in a bowl game, but he had Purdue ranked No. 1 in the country for four weeks before a 13-0 loss at Ohio State in 1968. He won the only game where Purdue was involved in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in our school's history (37-22 over Notre Dame in 1968). He threw 18 interceptions in 1969, which likely cost him the Heisman, as he finished as a 1488-1334runner-up to Steve Owens of Oklahoma. He came the closest any player has to ever winning the Heisman.
Duane Purvis - In addition to having an excellent burger named after him at TripleXXX, Purvis was one of Purdue's early football greats on the 1932 Big Ten Championship team that went 7-0-1. He was also a great javelin thrower too with a pair of NCAA championships.
Dave Rankin - The current track and field facility is named after him, but his era as a player is kind of forgettable. Honestly, I am surprised he was nominated as one of the ten players as opposed to someone like Jeff Zgonina, Kyle Orton, Rosevelt Colvin, or Keena Turner.
Rod Woodson - In terms of a pure athlete I don't think Purdue has ever seen anyone as good as Woodson. He could have been an Olympic Champion at Track & Field but didn't pretty much because didn't feel like it. How is that? Instead he had a double HOF (College and Pro) career in football. He still holds the NFL career record with 12 pick-sixes and is generally regarded as one of the best Defensive Backs to have ever walked the earth.
It is tough to pick the four, but here is who I would go with:
Brees - His career is still going strong and he is going to be an NFL Hall of Famer. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
Alstott - Just a physical beast and a terror. Can you imagine if he had come along just five years later and had played with Brees? I think I need to sit down.
Woodson - The dude is simply a freak of nature as an athlete. In fact, he is 49 years old and he could still probably step onto campus tomorrow as our best DB.
Keyes - He gets the spot because he was such a dual threat player offensively (he caught a ton of passes out of the backfield) and he still was a ridiculously good safety. He pretty much never left the field.