How Barry changed the CFB-NFL relationship

The most significant development in the college-to-NFL pipeline in the 1980s came in 1989, when Sanders decided to jump from Oklahoma State to the NFL after a record-setting junior season in 1988.

The NFL said it was making an exception for Sanders, who was drafted No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions and went on to a Hall of Fame career, but in reality it permanently opened the door to underclassmen. As NFL salaries soared, getting through college quickly became more desirable.

Pretty fascinating read. A team of college all-stars beat a team of NFL all-stars as recently as the 1960s!

Can you even imagine the record books had Barry played as a senior? WOW!

I saw every home game in ‘87 and watched Barry just dominate when he got to play. He was so obviously better than Thurman that I yearned for more playing time for him. But, Pat Jones had a point when he said something to the effect that you can’t not start a returning All-American. Switzer even acknowledged that the better back wasn’t playing most of ‘87.

I actually think this is an interesting “what-if” to explore. The 89 team was certainly not on par with the 88 team. The 88 OL featured the War Pigs - I believe they were all 5th year seniors. No disrespect to the 89 OL (Sports Reference lists Josh Arrott, Brent Davis, Keith Roller, Pete Surette, and Scott Webb as the starters) but I don’t remember any of them (I also lived in California that year and it was the pre-internet era). Sports reference lists the rushers that year as Gerald Hudson (910 yds at 4.9 ypc), Vernon Brown (511 yds at 3.7 ypc), and Cecil Wilson (193 yds at 3.3 ypc). Wonder what Barry could have done on the 89 team with Gundy but without the experienced OL and without Hart Lee Dykes? Barry ran for 2850 yards (#alwayscountthebowlgame) in 1988. The entire 1989 team ran for 1651 yards. That’s a difference of 1199 yards! How many would he have had in 1989? How many 4th quarters would he have had to play? Who would have drafted Barry after the 89 season??? What-if, what-if, what-if…

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