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Adios Aughts: And the Football Player of the Decade Is...

We here at Arkansas Expats, Inc are nothing if not completely original, so as we rapidly approach the conclusion of the 00's we've decided to take the bold and unique approach of doing an end-of-decade retrospective. Earlier today we put our researchers and scientists to work to determine the top basketball player, and now we focus on the same task for the football side of the equation.

Never in the entire storied history of the Arkansas Razorback football program has there been an era quite as crazy as the Aughts (then again, John C. Futrall and Glen Rose never had to worry about a text-messaging scandal). The decade brought us exhilarating victories, crushing losses and one of the more insane coaching dramas ever seen anywhere.

Beyond any of that, the Aughts also gave fans the privilege of rooting for some of the most talented, exciting and all-around fun-to-watch players ever to wear the Hog uniform. But, even with a long list of worthy candidates to choose from, our search for the Official Football Player of the Decade was quick, easy and unanimous (we even let the interns go home early after a mere 12-hour workday).

In the interest of maintaining at least a little suspense, follow us after the jump for the shocking winner of this honor:

Ladies and gentlemen, we are extremely proud to present the Football Player of the Decade award to the 501 Boy himself...Little Rock's own Mr. Darren McFadden.


D-Mac's list of credentials should be so familiar to even casual Hog fans that they barely need repeating, but as a quick refresh they include:

- 4,590 career rushing yards (2nd all-time in the SEC)  

- 41 rushing TDs, 7 passing TDs, 2 receiving TDs, 1 return TD

- 2 years as a consensus All-American, 2 Doak Walker awards, 2 Heisman runner-ups (kids, it might sound funny to your young ears, but McFadden played in an era when sophomores were not allowed to win the Heisman) 

- Sporting News Player of the Year, Walter Camp Player of the Year, SEC Offensive Player of the Year

- standout moments such as 321 yards rushing against South Carolina, 206 yards rushing and 4 TDs (3 rushing, 1 passing) against  #1 LSU in his final college game* or basically inventing the now-famous Wildcat formation against Tennessee in 2006.

*Note: rumors of an Arkansas appearance in the 2008 Cotton Bowl are strongly refuted in these parts.

He was also known to be pretty fast:

And, on a lighter note, he was also a key player in what historians are now calling the greatest postgame interview in college football history:

Despite D-Mac's indisputable greatness, there are numerous other players who deserve at least a quick mention here. We could go on and on, but three particularly notable figures as we look back on the decade include:

First Runner-Up: Matt Jones. The freakishly athletic Jones presided over some of the most exciting wins in Razorback history.

Second Runner-Up (tie): Felix Jones, Ryan Mallett. If not for the presence of his backfield mate McFadden, Felix Jones would have a strong case as the best Razorback runner ever, and although Mallett only played for one year in the Aughts, his immediate rewriting of the passing record books earns him a spot on this list.