Guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis
Much like I did a few years ago with the Bo Brackets in trying to determine Bo’s best team, this time I decided to answer the age old question: Who was Bo’s best running back?
There have been some great ones over the years and I thought it would be a fun look back on what these former Wolverines did on the gridiron. Again, when looking back, I kept the backs in their own era or decade – this makes it easier when comparing stats and accomplishments. As a result, I put the best 16 backs of the 70’s on one side and the top 16 backs of the 80’s on the other side of the brackets. I used the following criteria to help determine who would advance each round to become Bo’s Best Back:
- Round 1 – Best Stats (Yards Gained, TD’s, etc.)
- Round 2 – Best/Signature Game
- Round 3 – Best/Signature Run
- Round 4 – The Hypothetical Handoff. If you needed someone to carry the rock on 4th and goal on the last play to win the game, who would it be?
- Round 5 – Reader/Viewer Vote
Alright, enough of the preamble. Below are the brackets:
On to the match-ups!
ROUND 1 – ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS
(#1) Rob Lytle vs. (#16) Kevin King
While these two backs were teammates, this matchup is a no-brainer. You have a guy who most M fans don’t even remember pitted up against an All-American, who placed 3rd in the Heisman Trophy his senior year. Kevin King played four years in a crowded and talented Wolverine backfield. His lone TD came in the closing moments of the 69-0 rout of Navy in 1976. King netted 182 total yards in his career, while Lytle finished his career as Michigan’s All-Time Leading Rusher and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. No upset here. Lytle moves on to Round 2.
WINNER: ROB LYTLE
(#8) Fritz Seyferth vs. (#9) Chuck Heater
While both of these backs scored about the same amount of TD’s, it’s the yardage that separates these two. Fritz Seyferth scored 14 TD’s and ran for over 500 yards in his M career as a blocking fullback (see Billy Taylor’s TD run vs. OSU in 1971). Chuck Heater is most remembered as a current College Coordinator and Coach with notable stops in Colorado (with Bill McCartney) and Florida (with Urban Meyer). In a mild upset, Heater with almost 2,000 yards and 17 TD’s, gets the nod to move on to Round 2.
WINNER: CHUCK HEATER
(#5) Ed Shuttlesworth vs. (#12) Gil Chapman
In a matchup of great Bob Ufer nicknames, The “Jersey Jet,” Gil Chapman, put up a good fight, but it wasn’t enough to take down “Easy Ed” Shuttlesworth. For those who don’t remember Chapman, think Jamie Morris – just not as powerful. Remembered most for his 58-yard end around scamper for a TD against MSU in 1972, Chapman was a great change of pace back compared to the bruisers and pounders that Bo loved to ram down the opponents’ throats back in the day. The nod goes to Shuttlesworth as he was one tough guy between the tackles. He averaged 777 yards a season and hit paydirt 26 times in his career. With over 2,300 yards rushing, “Easy Ed” advances to the second round.
WINNER: ED SHUTTLESWORTH