I don’t mean to be a dick to Cal. They’re just harmless hippies trying to make their way in the Super Max Penitentiary that is college football. And since they’re a mediocre program that’s been trying to make the “big step” into one of the big prison gangs by shanking some other defenseless schlub (but they’re too chickenshit to actually do it), it’s fairly predictable that they’re probably going to over-hype a very good, but not amazing player. Let’s be clear: Jahvid Best hasn’t done shit. And he ain’t no Reggie Bush.
It’s not that he sucks or is overrated, even. It’s just that everyone is lining up to lick his coin purse based on some huge performances against awful, awful teams. But, as I said, it’s Cal, and they really need small victories or they’ll have to face the reality that they’ll never be anything in the Pac-10 as long as Pete Carroll is at USC.
But first, let’s examine the source of Best’s overratedness. He had three huge games in which he ran for 200, 201, and 311 yards and a total of nine touchdowns. That’s 711 yards of the 1,580 that he accrued in 2008. That’s 45% of his total rushing yardage and 60% of his rushing touchdowns. And, to be fair, that’s a nice three games for any running back no matter who he is or who he was pwning.
Now for the bad news: those three games were against Washington State, Stanford, and Washington, respectively. Yeah, those are the three worst teams in the Pac-10. Wazzu and Washington had one win COMBINED in 2008. Best Apple Cup game ever, by the way. I’m being serious. No really.
Even worse, though his yards per carry average was impressive last season, he never carried the ball 20 times in a game again after the first game of the season, and many of his carries didn’t come in important situations: his 15 carry 116 yard effort in a two touchdown loss to Oregon State, for example. Or his 16 carry 107 yard game in a 42-27 loss to Arizona. Basically, his team sucked, couldn’t use him to come back, and he did little else to help win games. It would have been nice to see how he’d have done if the team had kept using him when they were down to maybe spark a comeback or to see how he’d do when everyone in the stadium knew he was gonna get the ball 25-30 times. Never happened.
In his one shot against really good competition, Best accumulated 13 carries for 30 yards against USC and was a non-factor in the Bears’ 17-3 loss to the Trojans. Totally winnable game and Cal’s Reggie Bush never showed.
Now, Reggie Bush didn’t actually carry the ball all that much as a sophomore either. The difference is, Bush was surrounded by amazing talent with whom he shared the ball and was on a team that went undefeated and destroyed Oklahoma to win the national championship. Bush only had 143 carries that season with a 6.4 ypc average in 2004, the season before he won the Heisman. Best, on a bad team, had 194 carries and a better ypc average. But how many of his carries mattered?
Bush delivered against virtually every team he played, especially the best ones. He couldn’t be stopped, just contained. The only decent defense Best faced as a sophomore completely shut him down. It’s not Jahvid Best’s fault he’s on a shit team, but the facts are still there. Who knows, maybe he has a Heisman-level season in 2009, but let’s bring the hype machine to a screeching halt now, okay?