Let's honor the exploits of one LaMichael Keondrae James by comparing his season and career against the cumulative output of the entire cadre of Oregon backs from 1972 to 1993.
How does LMJ match up against the collected works of Don Reynolds, George Bennett, Jim Johnson, Kim Nutting, Vince Williams, Reggie Brown, Terrance Jones, Ladaria Johnson, Tony Cherry, Derek Loville, and Sean Burwell, and all the others who fumbled around for decades in the backfield?
It's a favorable comparison. (Yeah, surprise surprise.)
This season, LaMichael James scored 21 rushing touchdowns in 11 regular season games. This exceeds the number of TDs scored on offense during 8 seasons of The Suffering. And it surpasses the team's entire rushing touchdown output between 1981 and 1983, when Oregon totaled 18 rushing touchdowns in 33 games.
LMJ's 1682 regular season net rushing yards beats the Oregon team season rushing totals in all but 7 of the 22 years of The Suffering. (Note: The 1990 team ran for 1674 yards in 12 games.)
LMJ's rushing yardage for 2010 surpassed the season rushing yardage of the entire 1993 Oregon team during the third quarter of his sixth game, against UCLA.
By the time LMJ scored his third touchdown against Washington for his 108th point, in his 8th game, he had outscored the entire 1982 Oregon team by five points. (The '82 Ducks scored 103 points on 11 TDs, 9 PATs, 8 FGs and two safeties. Only three of those TDs were by rushing.. which James pulled off three times this year, against Stanford, USC and UW.)
LaMike posted over 200 yards rushing three times in 11 games this season. This is as many 200 yard games as we saw during the 246 games of The Suffering. (Derek Loville did it twice, with 203 against ASU in '89 and 215 vs Idaho State in '88. And Tony Cherry ripped Stanford for 227 in '85. )
With his nine games of 100+ yards, LMJ hit the century mark two more times than Oregon's backs managed in a string of seven seasons between 1981 and 1987. (Tony Cherry was responsible for five of those, in '85; Oregon didn't have a single 100 yard effort from '81 through '84, and Loville had one each in '86 and ‘87).
So, yeah, LMJ >> 22 cumulative years of suffering.
And more. After two seasons, he's the greatest Oregon running back ever, in my opinion.
Statistically, James is already the school's #2 all-time rusher, and needs just 68 yards to surpass Derek Loville for the career record.
Of Oregon's 10 most prolific running backs, five of them have played since 2000: LMJ, Snoop, TW, Jeremiah, and Mo. And James just pushed Onterrio Smith to #11. I'd say the transition of Oregon's offense from "pass-oriented" to "run-oriented" is complete.
And LMJ is the best of a great bunch; all five of his predecessors spent time in the NFL.
It's fun to measure LMJ's two-season output against 22 seasons of futility.
But the best ever? Compare him with Oregon's other great backs of the modern era.
- Mel Renfro, had he played in the two-platoon-era, might not even have played on offense.
- Bobby Moore had big numbers during the two seasons he spent at tailback. But Moore's 4.5 ypc number pales in comparison to LaMike's 6.1, James had more TDs this season than Moore had in two, and his career doesn't hold up against LMJ's. And Moore didn't lead his team to any bowl games, never mind a national championship game.
- Don Reynolds had the tools, but his teams were so bad we'll never know how good he might have been. His 8.1 ypc average in '72 is still the modern record, but was on just 52 tries. Once Enright started making him run into brick walls every week, his average became more human. And he scored just 12 TDs in three seasons.
- Jonathan Stewart had the best single season ever in '07, at least as of right now. Had he not been plagued by injuries in 2005, and used mostly for kickoff returns and short-yardage situations, his name might be at the top of the career lists. But he didn't dominate over his last two seasons the way James has during his first two.
- Reuben Droughns had the potential, but injuries ruined one season and slowed down the other, and he'll forever be the back that "might have" been the best ever.
- Maurice Morris was a workhorse in 2000, but wasn't even the best back on the team in 2001.
- Onterrio Smith's ypc numbers dropped in 2002 when he became The Guy. Not what you want to see.
- Derek Loville's Oregon career was a lot like his career with the 49ers -- a lot of carries, a lot of yards as a result, but he barely made 4 ypc, ran up a lot of his biggest yards against teams like Idaho State, and just wasn't spectacular enough to call the greatest ever. Certainly not in comparison with LMJ. One more note. It took Loville 4 seasons and over 800 carries to amass his 3,296 yards.
To me, there's no comparison with any of these great backs. Even if he forgoes playing in the BCS game because he wins Megabucks with a powerball sometime in the next four weeks, LaMichael James is worthy of consideration as Oregon's greatest running back of all time.
Anybody want to argue the point?