Armed with that knowledge, I recently went about forming an All-Decade team that I knew full well would be picked apart and debated on the message board - which in large part was the very intent of doing it in the first place. Opinions aren't perfect by their nature, and while I feel I did my due diligence of research, many of you cried foul and I listened.
Beck vs. Hall
I knew going in that this was a tough call and would be debated about endlessly on the board, as it should be. There are great arguments for both camps and I did struggle in determining that it was Beck over Hall who deserved the First-Team honors.
We here at TBS pride ourselves in attracting the most knowledgeable BYU fans around, so when an opinion about anything is stated I don't take it for granted. In the Beck vs. Hall debate, some of the better arguments echo the following sentiments:
Ken Yoshimoto AKA da Mad Hawaiian: "Everyone, including TBS writers, wondered if Beck had "it" going into his senior season. Prior to Beck's senior season, the preponderance of evidence indicated that Beck was talented, but mechanical and was not a play-maker when it counted. A recurring theme was that Beck focused on his primary target too long and was too slow in going through his progressions. I clearly recall the Notre Dame game when Beck did not come through when the plays presented themselves. The failed two-point conversion attempt sticks out in my mind as a reminder of where John Beck was in his development at the time. I remember thinking, ‘McMahon and Detmer would have made these plays.'
Even with the Harline miracle pass against Utah, many didn't think we had a prayer. Perhaps, that is what made that play and that drive so amazing. Beck did it. Beck finally lived up to his much ballyhooed promise. Beck came through and the Cougar Nation rejoiced!
I admired Beck for his work ethic and grit. Nobody worked any harder than John Beck and for that he is someone I will always cheer and follow. When he graduated, he was an extremely good QB, if only for his determination to improve. John Beck's senior season was a storybook ending to a much anticipated career. Beck is also the nicest guy you would ever meet.
In my opinion, Beck will always stand in line behind McMahon, Young, Wilson, Bosco and Detmer. I think he stands in line behind Max Hall, too. If the game rested upon one play or one drive, who would I turn to? I would choose Hall over Beck. Hall was as fiery as McMahon, Young, Bosco and Detmer and he believed he could thread a needle with passes even when the odds were stacked heavily against him. I fully believe Hall would call his own number with the game on the line.
Hall did benefit from John Beck, but isn't even a factor, IMO."
Michael Hawkins: "If they both brought their "A" games, who would be the hardest to defend if you stood on the opposite sidelines? I think it's Beck. He has the stronger and more accurate arm and also turned the ball over via fumbles (and picks for that matter) far less.
I think when you look at both at their best, Beck stands just a little taller (both literally and figuratively). His "late bloom" was due to the fact that he played under different offensive schemes/coordinators/coaches during his career whereas Hall dealt with the same playbook and guys throughout. He also had some injury problems, related to his protection, with which Hall never had to contend.
If we were to place Beck in Hall's scheme/coach/personnel window (i.e. he has something resembling an OL and some wide receivers to throw to as a true freshman and every subsequent year), I think we might possibly have seen Detmer's total passing yardage mark fall. He was that talented."
Former TBS Managing Editor Reg Schwenke: "I was one of the TBS writers who wrote Beck did not have "IT "until his senior season. He frustrated me many times watching his play up until then. He personally lost close games he should have won in his sophomore and junior seasons. I vividly remember one game when Beck went to his knees inches from an easily makeable critical fourth down conversion because he was afraid of being hit -- and we lost that game. Max Hall would never have done that in any year.
That's why I consider Hall a more reliable "go to" QB throughout his career at BYU. That said, Hall has nothing on Beck's arm strength -- but Beck overthrew a ton of long balls to wide open receivers all the way through his senior season that would have resulted in more TDs."
Eric Neilson came to Beck's defense: "John Beck became that QB when he dismantled TCU on 2 bad ankles. The utah game would have been a blowout if the fumble returned for a touchdown was not ruled an incomplete pass. Going into that game the knock on Beck is he never won a close game or lead his team to a come from behind victory. Well we all know what happened.
I feel you flip flop the 2, Beck may have very well lead us to 2 BSC berths, not sure if Hall would have done any better during the Beck years. One thing to think about, Beck only played in this system for 2 years unlike Hall who benefited in this system for his entire career at BYU. Just imagine what Beck could have done if this was the system since his freshman year and a defense to help him along the way (03,04 and 05).
Now with that said, I am a Max Hall Fan and was extremely pleased with his MVP selection in the Vegas Bowl. An excellent way to cap his career and silence some of his critics, especially some of those classless ute fans."
In the end, George Anthony summed it up nicely: "That we're even having this discussion, I feel, is a tribute to both of them. I miss John Beck and already, I am starting to miss Max Hall."
Defense of the Defense
While about all of the arguments on offense surrounded the choice of Beck over Hall, on the defensive end it was a different story.
Ray Cox had chimed in on two of my decisions: "Keisel was a stud at BYU, he was way better than Brett Denney Imo. He wasn't featured perhaps, but he shut down his side, and caused havoc that let LB's behind him shine. Brett has been solid, but not much more than that."
"Lee, was a great pick, imo, one of the most underrated defenders ever at BYU. I honestly expected Lee to find his way onto an nfl roster, and was surprised to see him not make it. Criddle, however, is the most underrated player on this list. I've been watching BYU football closely since 1989, and Criddle imo is the best corner we have EVER had at BYU."
"I know Mitchell had an nfl career, but that dude got burned deep way too often for my taste. Jenaro as a fresh or soph ( i don't remember which looked dang good too) but due to injuries, hc or whatever, he digressed imo. Ben was the best tackler at corner other than maybe McTrye and Logan, and the best cover guy other than possibly Morgan that byu has had in 20 years. I don't think anyone from the decade is close to Ben as the top choice."
David Heid agreed with some of the choices, but had this to say: "[Criddle] played with so much heart that I even have forgiven him for getting stripped of the interception in the BC game (which I think should have stood anyway). I love watching him play."
"B Denney got blown off the line of scrimmage too many times to make my team. I am sure he played as hard as he could, but I would also go with Keisel. Heaney would definitely be a first teamer, not only because of his speed but also his heart by playing hurt all the time."
"Nose is a tough call, but I thought Tialavea played superbly in his last game. He looked healthy and quick, and showed that first step that we salivated over when he was younger. Of course, Manaia played hurt his whole career. Definitely two guys who showed NFL potential."
In the end there are clear choices for the All-Decade team, along with really tough ones that will be debated about over all over again on the message boards for some time. The debate is a good one and with every opinion comes new insight regarding perspectives that a lot of us, including myself, didn't consider as much as we should have. So did G-man get the All-Decade team right? You be the judge.