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Jahvid Best was a great running back at Cal but for the "greatest", he needed to have more production by staying healthy. Other than that unforgettable (in a bad way) concussion that ended his Cal career, Best also took a big hit (and was puking out stuff on the field) at the Maryland game on the road (also the lone Cal game during that era that I saw in person) and was not effective for the rest of that game (or the following week, IIRC). He also dislocated his elbow and somehow only missed just one game later that season in 2008.

When he was healthy, Jahvid Best embodied the rare and since missing optimism of what Cal Football could be. The reality was a lot harsher, unfortunately.

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Chuck Muncie, who could do it all. And his single-handed demolishment of Stanford in 1975 on The Farm caps to WIN the Pac. (when's teh last time that has happened?) Chuck had 166 yards & 4 TDS rushing, and even thru a HB option for a TD. https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/SPIRIT-OF-75-Chuck-Muncie-starred-as-Cal-2896732.php

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You make a good case the Best was the best rusher. But I say that Muncie was the best player at the running back position. He leads all Cal running back in receiving yards and total yards from scrimmage, making him the most dangerous overall threat.

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/schools/california/rushing.html

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I was too young for Muncie in a Cal uniform. But I was a Chargers fan living in SoCal and he did some great things with them I remember when I was a kid.

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"You" meant Nick, though I was replying to Big Dog.

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P.S. Muncie got robbed for the Heisman that year, since ABC was in love with the Big Ten.

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I was a little young to see Muncie and we were living in SoCal at the time, but my dad probably ruined him for me. My dad was maybe the biggest Cal fan, but he was uneasy about Muncie, who by all accounts never attended class. I'm not sure if this is true, but the rumor was he even lived in Marin during his Berkeley years.

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YOU CRAZY FOR THIS ONE NICK

But offensive line aside, QB aside - if I needed 4 yards for a first, or absolutely needed grind out the clock for 4 minutes with running plays, I'm going to give the ball to Marshawn "Money" Lynch.

I think Marshawn is the most versatile, who could blown up defenders, make defenders miss, move a pile, had break-away speed, could catch coming out of the back-field, could throw a touchdown on a halfback pass, could go on Conan O'Brian, who best represents Oakland, who can gas, brake, dip a golf cart, who can organize large bike rides from Oakland to Berkeley, who can wander around Oakland handing out masks to people who aren't wearing them, who will run through a motherfucker's face over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. . . and over and over.

Shining! 365 days a week! Shining!

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Pete Carroll disagrees.

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Some people disagree with Pete Carroll.

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I disagree with Pete Carroll.

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I actually don't think a pass was the wrong call there - what was it, 2nd down? But I think you roll Russell out, give him one option, if it's not open, throw it out the back of the end zone. Then on third run Marshawn - remember Money had JUST been stopped short on the previous set of downs.

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No one remembers that he was stopped before that play. It has become such an inconic moment that there is basically only one fact.

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People don't remember actual facts? Hmm, doesn't sound right to me.

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Chuck Muncie! Boom! We've had our share of greats, but none better than Chuck. He was a man amongst boys.

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Btw, I played with Chuck. I was a freshman when he was a senior. I could tell you some stories you would not believe. There was no one in the college game who could take him down one on one. He was fast enough he could juke you out of your shorts and he was big enough that if he wanted to he just ran you over. I remember weigh ins at 1975 Fall Camp check in (which was held at St. Mary's in those days) and Chuck walked in and stripped down. He was 6'2" and ripped, six pack and huge legs. He stepped on the scale in his birthday suit and weighed in a 244...and the dude ran a 9.7 hundred yard dash. I watched him in our latter days of camp come around the corner on a student body right. He had a corner back between him and the end zone. I was a punk ass rookie on the sidelines. I saw a big grin flash on Chucks face right before he decided to run over the CB. The corner had no idea how big the freight train was that hit him and knocked him on his ass before it ended up in the end zone. Chuck single handedly took the team on his back agains USC when we beat them 28-14 at home for the first time in 19 years (or something like that). Chuck outshone Ricky Bell that day. It was glorious!

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Thanks for the cool story! I enjoyed watching you and Chuck from the stands. That USC game was awesome.

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That game is also when Joe Roth became a legend.

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I am to young to have seen Muncie and have only vague memories of Russell White.

I would pick Marshawn. When Best was at 100% he was amazing, but he was not durable and a lot of his yards-per-carry average was based on big home run plays. Snap to snap I think Marshawn was more the kind of player who could put the team on his back when nothing else was working (and he also had his share of home run plays).

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Also, he's a fresh of breath air!

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This was my freshman year, and being in the stands makes it stand out that much more. Hard for me to argue against Marshawn being #1.

https://youtu.be/lnWHRERvnaE

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I've seen Cal running backs in person since the Sixties and I'd go like this: 1) Muncie 2 )Best 3) Lynch 4) White. No one close to that top four and not much to separate them from each other.

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JJ Arrington is the only Cal running back have a 2000 yard season. While I don't think he was as talented as the above 4, he was as, or even more successful. (but also that 2004 offensive line - I think I could have gained 1 yard behind them)

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I agree that Best was the best of the bunch. No disrespect to Marshawn, who I think is number two followed by Chuck Muncie.

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Chuck Muncie all the way. He was the LeBron James of Cal's football history. In a league of his own.

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It is a great list and I have been a season ticket holder for decades, the fall of 1969 was my freshman year at Cal. No one was ever better than Chuck Muncie! It is very cool that his debate has so many great names, though. The comment that Muncie was a man among boys on the field is very accurate. He had it all. Speed , moves, power and was an excellent receiver. I knew Chuck and he was one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, but he got as lot of bad press in the NFL. Unfortunately, he was a first million dollar, very high draft pick, to a team in the deep south, you do the racist math... Like just about everyone back then around Berkeley, Chuck liked to party and have a good time, and New Orleans was a bad fit. He should have won the Heisman that year, but "West Coast Berkeley" thing may have cost him. We need another name to debate over very soon, I hope. Go bears.

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Being a HUGE fan of our Cal running backs, and while I do believe you have different types of backs for different jobs, no one electrified the field and terrified opposing coaches more than Best. His quickness, intelligence, agility, receiving hands, and then break-away speed were the greatest I ever [personally] witnessed.

I can appreciate ALL of the counter-arguments about durability, limited production, and so forth. But every time he was on the field there was a good possibility he could score.

I don my hat to ALL of our great ones: Muncie, Marshawn, White, Arrington, and Foresett - love them all to this day - great individuals and AMAZING BEARS! But I could not agree more with this writing. Best would be my pick (followed very closely by Marshawn) to anchor a backfield.

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Didn't get to see Muncie, but Russell White is my choice and it's not even close. He had Marshawn's power and was faster than any Cal rb not named Jahvid, and was more athletic than both of them. A special talent.

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I have been watching Cal football very closely for 35 years now, and I agree that Russell White was the greatest running back that I got to see personally. I believe that he isn't in that conversation as much as he should be because he was a bust in the NFL.

Best was great, yeah, but I cannot think of one meaningful game that he took on his shoulders and willed a win over a great team. If you watched White in the 91 season, he ran for the most yards ever against a USC team. And he was the main reason Cal beat UCLA that season in 90-degree Palo Alto heat that required him to get an IV at halftime. And he gets my vote for the greatest thing I have even seen at Memorial Stadium: his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Miami, the number one team in the nation, the first time he ever touched the ball in a Cal uniform.

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Truly a one of a kind feat:

And he was the main reason Cal beat UCLA that season in 90-degree Palo Alto heat that required him to get an IV at halftime

(just kidding, it was pasadena heat)

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LOL....don't like either town, so I guess it's easy to get them mixed up.

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I kind of got the feeling that White could take it or leave it the NFL, whether or not he would admit it. He had been put into a box early on. He was a poor student with preternatural football skills and pedigree and the expectation he would sign with USC and conquer the world of football. He pretty much did everything he could do to break out of that box by signing at Cal, a school with academic reputation and not much of a football one. He became a good student, graduated and went on to get his Masters at Cal too. I think he enjoyed football, but it also wasn't the motivating factor in his life. It was almost too easy for him and he wanted to prove he could have success where others had doubted him most. He's probably my favorite Cal student athlete of all-time--both in terms of the "wow" factor of watching him and his incredible integrity and character.

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Russell was great and would probably be higher on the list if he had had a pro career of any longevity. Still curious as to why the pros didn't work out for him.

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If truth be told, White started losing his mojo while still at Cal. In this third year at Cal and under a new coach (Keith Gilbertson) he did not get along with, you could see an ever so slight decline in the moves he showed in 90 and 91 that put him at the top of my list. He still rushed for over 1,000 yards that season, but he wasn't hitting the holes and turning the corner with quite the same zip that he showed earlier. That carried over into the NFL with the Rams, Packers and 49ers. Not the same guy. I suspect he showed up at NFL camps not in tip top shape and carrying a little too much weight.....

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Gilby didn't come in until Russell's senior year (which was also my freshman year)

Everyone told him over the summer that he had to gain weight to survive in the NFL - but 1991/92 is not 2010 - and the weight Russell gained definitely slowed him down.

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I remember going to alumni meet and greet with Mariucci at Memorial right after he was hired (too late) as HC. Someone asked him about why Russell couldn't stick in the pros since Mooch had him for a sec with the Packers, and he basically said he basically was picked up by the wrong teams. I also remember his senior season being his worst, perhaps because he had gained weight and was maybe playing a little hurt. Gilby as coach couldn't have helped either. In retrospect, had he jumped after his junior year, he probably would have been a first-rounder and a priority for whoever drafted him. But alas, there were less early entries at that time and Russell wanted his degree more than anything it seemed.

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Bonus: Russell was the first running back I saw jump over defender in full stride, land it and keep running.

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We were blessed with a number of great running backs throughout Cal history, but from my time at Cal (1984 on), and with no disrespect to any of the other GREAT Running Backs we had, Jahvid was my favorite. Watching him cut through the box and then put it into passing gear was incredible.

I was at that 311 yard day against Washington, and what people fail to mention is that he was taken out after the first drive in the 2nd half. If he had played the whole game, 500 yards would have been a given.

If you haven't fallen into the Jahvid Best YouTube vortex, treat yourself. You'll be glad you did.

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I know that Goff did not get any votes in the heisman.

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The only Cal players in the last couple decades to even garner Heisman interest were JJ Arrington and Desean Jackson.

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Jahvid started the season with Heisman talks after Minnesota game but that was about it.

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I'm sure ARod did too - especially after the USC game, but JJ was the only one who I clearly remember chatter about him even going to New York.

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