- Ivan Maisel, College Football Senior Writer
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It is one of the shrewdest weapons in a coach's motivational arsenal. You don't have to play hard for 60 minutes, the coach says. You have to play hard for six seconds, the length of an average play. Give me everything you have for six seconds, and then you can rest.
Over the next five days, ESPN.com will roll out The 100: The plays, performances and moments that define college football. Think of it this way: from 138 years of college football, we have assembled 600 seconds.
These are the iconic moments that belong in college football's time capsule. These are the moments that define the game: not just the great plays, but the meaningful ones. Not just the Hail Marys, but the plays that hailed change, either in the rule book, the playbook or, where color is concerned, the game's Facebook.
It would have been easy to fill the list with nothing but the sport's equivalent of walk-off home runs. The 2006 NCAA Football Record Book lists 163 game-ending winning plays that took place between 1971 and 2005 alone. That excludes 10 years of overtime, not to mention the cardiac moments that happened in the final minute, the fourth quarter or, in the case of Gene McEver of the 1928 Tennessee Volunteers, on the opening kickoff.
You will see the obvious choices that casual fans can identify. You will see the choices that casual fans of generations past identified with the same ease. Wayne Millner (1935), meet the Stanford Band (1982).
You will see the subtle choices, plays that at the time only a fortune-teller could identify. Only in their aftermath, which stretched over days, or sometimes seasons, did we understand that what they set in motion led to bowl bids, national championships and Hall of Fame careers.
You will see plays that wrote themselves into the national memory book not because of their effect on the outcome of the game but because of their effect on the public. Only die hard fans recall that Alabama safety George Teague's strip of Miami wide receiver Lamar Thomas in the 1993 Sugar Bowl was called back because of a Tide penalty. It may have been "no play" in the record book, but this list would not be complete without it.
Our unveiling of The 100 will take one week. The debate over them began long ago, and will continue for the life of the sport. We feel sure that you will linger over each choice for more than six seconds.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Hail Marys to the plays that hailed change, Ivan Maisel ranks the plays, performances and moments that define college football.