Steve Broussard or Jerome Harrison? Jason Hill or Mike Levenseller? Torgy Torgeson or Will Derting? Leon Bender or Keith Millard? And don't even think about how you parse return specialists like Bernard Jackson, Michael Bumpus, Jerry Williams and Kitrick Taylor, or settle on a way to compare the legends of the early days with guys who have been beamed into our homes in living color.
Then, of course, there's the quarterback situation.
Our choice at QB was unanimous, but the arguments for Jason Gesser, Drew Bledsoe and Jack Thompson, among others, illustrated the difficulty of the entire undertaking. Here's where all the dust settled, position by glorious position ...
Ryan Leaf (1994-97), Great Falls, Mont.
Ignited a world of possibility dreamed of by Cougar Nation for 67 years by beating UCLA and USC back to back, clinching a Rose Bowl berth in dramatic fashion against the Dawgs, and coming within two seconds of knocking off national champion Michigan. The 1997 Pac-10 offensive player of the year, he finished third in Heisman Trophy balloting.
Rueben Mayes (1981-85) North Battleford, Sask.
All-time WSU leading rusher, two-time All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Twice named Pac-10 offensive player of the year. Set NCAA single-game record for rushing in one game (357 at Oregon, 1984).
Steve Broussard (1986-89), Los Angeles
An all-purpose wizard, he led the Pac-10 in receiving one season, rushing another and all-purpose yards in a third. The 1989 Pac-10 offense player of the year. First-round NFL draft pick.
Hugh Campbell (1960-62), Saratoga, Calif.
One of only six Cougars to be named first-team All-Coast or all-conference in three successive seasons, and voted first-, second- or third-team All-American in each of his three varsity campaigns.
Brandon Gibson (2005-2008), Puyallup
A three-year starter who completed his career as WSU’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,756) and No. 2 in career receptions (182) and No. 6 in TD touchdown receptions (17), including the game-winner in the waning moments of the 2007 Apple Cup. Twice named first-team or honorable mention all-conference.
Mike Levenseller (1975-77), Tacoma
Perhaps best known for coaching some of the greatest wideouts in Cougar history as a staff member from 1992-2011, he was a record setter himself as a player. Named first-team all-conference and All-Coast twice as well as honorable mention All-America. At end of his senior year he ranked among the 10 most prolific receivers in conference history.
Butch Williams (1989-92), Renton
Named first-team all-conference three straight seasons. An outstanding blocker who still holds the WSU tight ends record for catches and yards. The son of fellow all-timer Clancy Williams.
Mel Hein (1928-30), Burlington, Wash.
In 1969, sportswriters across the land voted him the greatest center, college or pro, who ever played the game. A charter member of the College and Pro football halls of fame. A first-team All-American on 1931 Rose Bowl team.
Dan Lynch (1980-84), Spokane
Unanimous selection to the All-Pac-10 first team in 1983 and 1984 and a unanimous recipient of the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10’s outstanding offensive lineman. First-team AP All-American in 1984 and honorable mention in 1983. Three-time Pac-10 All-Academic pick..
Mike Utley (1985-88), Burien
One of the most decorated players in WSU history with consensus first-team All-American in 1988 after helping two Cougar backs, Steve Broussard and Rich Swinton, each rush for more than 1,000 yards.
Steve Ostermanm (1972-74), Arlington Heights. Ill.
One of only six Cougar named first-team all-conference or All-Coast three straight seasons.
Derrick Roche (1999-2002), Kent
First-team all-Pac-10 on WSU’s 10-win teams of 2001 and 2002. Also earned first- and second-team All-America honors in 2002.
Jason Hanson (1988-91), Spokane
Set Pac-10 records for most field goals of 50 yards or more (20) and most of 40 yards or more (39). Also booted longest FG in league history: 62 yards. A two-time All-American and two-time all-conference choice at both punter and kicker. Hanson last week was selected as the kicker on the Pac-12 All-Centruty team.
Bernard Jackson (1970-71), Los Angeles
Averaged 27.6 yards per kick return and took two to the house in 1971. Also scored on a fake punt that season and rushed for more than 1,000 yards. First-team all-conference and All-Coast. A member of WSU’s athletic hall of fame. Had long NFL career.
DeWayne Patterson (1991-94), Oakland
Ranks as the most prolific sack master in school history with 37.5. No one else comes close. Also No. 1 on the all-time tackles for loss list (52.5). Two-time first-team all-Pac-10 pick and 1994 first-team All-America.
Turk Edwards (1929-31), Clarkston
A two-way star on some of the great teams in school history, including 1931 Rose Bowl squad. First-team All-American and a member of both the College and Pro football halls of fame.
Rien Long (2000-02), Anacortes
A mainstay on the 10-win WSU teams of 2001 and 2002 and the only Cougar ever to win the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the nation.
Keith Millard (1981-83), Pleasanton, Calif.
Winner of the 1983 Morris Trophy as the outstanding defensive lineman in the Pac-10. Ranks No. 5 on WSU’s all-time list both sacks and tackles for loss. First-team all-conference and All-Coast. A first-round NFL draft pick and 1989 NFL defensive player of the year.
Clancy Williams (1962-64), Renton
A two-way star, at running back and cornerback, who earned first-team All-America, All-Coast and all-conference honors in 1964. A first-round NFL draft pick and long-time Rams standout.
Marcus Trufant (1999-2002), Tacoma
First-team AP All-America as a senior and a three-time All-Pac-10 selection. helped WSU to back-to-back 10-win seasons and trips to Sun and Rose Bowl. A first-round draft pick who spent a dozen years in the NFL.
Deone Bucannon (2010-2013). Fairfield, Calif.
A four-year starter and 2013 first-team All-American. Ranks No. 4 on both the all-time tackles and interceptions lists. A first-round NFL draft pick now starring for the Cardianls.
Lamont Thompson (1997-2001), Richmond, Calif.
The greatest pass interceptor in Pac-12 history (24) and a first-team All-American. The 2001 Sun Bowl MVP. Played in NFL.
Mark Fields (1992-94), Cerritos, Calif.
Pac-10 defensive player of the year in 1994, leading the best defense in the nation and the greatest in WSU history. A first-round NFL draft pick.
Lee Blakeney (1980-84), Concord, Calif.
A four-year starter who posted a school record 524 total tackles – a number so huge that it rivals Rueben Mayes’ career rushing totals.
Will Derting (2002-05), Okanogan
Injuries kept him from an NFL career and from top 10 career stats, but when he was healthy there was one of the most exciting defenders in Cougar history. For three straight seasons he earned first-team, second-team or honorable mention all-Pac-10 honors, but he seared himself into crimson lore with spectacular efforts when the lights were brightest, at Notre Dame in 2002, in the 2003 Holiday Bowl against Texas and in the 2004 Apple Cup.
Gavin Hedrick (1973-76), Costa Mesa, Calif.
A four-year starter and two-time first-team all-conference pick. Averaged 43.45 yards on 217 career punts, including two of the four longest in school history.
Ed Goddard (1934-36), Escondido, Calif.
The only Cougar named first-team All-America three-straight seasons. Finished in top 10 the first year the Heisman Trophy was awarded. Accounted for more than 60 percent of Cougars’ points in his career. Listed as a QB but his position was more hybrid QB/RB.
Steve Gleason (1996-2000), Spokane
The undersized linebacker finished his career among the top 10 all-time WSU tacklers; earned some form of all-Pac-10 recognition three straight seasons; and starred on the legendary 1997 team. But of course, there is far more to Steve Gleason. His advocay for those in need while he himself is stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease serves as a national inspiration. Among all WSU graduates, he is among the giants.
Mike Price (1989-2002), Everett
Two Rose Bowls in the span of six seasons. Not even College Football Hall of Fame coaches Lone Star Dietz and Babe Hollingbery can lay claim to that feat.
THE GREATEST COUGAR OF ALL TIME:
Jack Thompson (1975-78), QB, Seattle
CLICK HERE TO LEARN WHY THE THROWIN' SAMOAN IS OUR CHOICE AS THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER TO WEAR CRIMSON AND GRAY