Until the mid-1960s, substitutions in college football were minimal. All-around athletes dominated, playing frequently on both sides of the ball. But with the end of the mandate on one-platoon play in 1965, specialization began to reign. Players better at offense became offensive players, players better at defense became defenders, and rather quickly, running backs took over. From 1965 to 1988, running backs won 17 of 24 Heisman Trophies, dominating the 1970s and early 1980s in particular.
As the game has changed, so has the position. We see very few running backs getting 25 carries per game, and only three RBs have won the Heisman in the 21st century. The position is evolving, but it's still a key piece of almost every college football offense. So let's take a moment to commemorate the best backs we've seen.
Here are the 100 best running backs of the past six decades, the period since specialization took over the sport.