CGB Hall of Fame: Nick Harris vs. Steve Bartkowski

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Two newcomers enter this contest. We have one of the greatest punters in Cal history versus the only Golden Bear drafted #1 in the NFL. The winner moves onto face Dante Hughes in the second round.

Vote below after reviewing the cases for each side after the jump--discuss who you voted for and why in the comments. Polling closes Friday at noon!

Click here to vote on Justin Forsett v. Glenn Seaborg!

Nick Harris makes his first appareance in the CGB Hall of Fame contest. MadBum has more on one of his favorite Bears.

Harris was one of the few bright spots of the Holmoecaust; even though he was a punter, he still was. Now his stats may be inflated due to the abysmal offense, but what he accomplished is still amazing. He didn’t just kick the ball far; he was also a pretty good athlete too.

After a redshirt season, Harris took over as the starting punter in 1997. He punted 77 times on the season, a huge amount, and 10 of those punts went 50 yards or more. His longest punt was a 63 yarder, against Arizona State. But he wasn’t just a punter; Harris ran for 20 yards against Oklahoma for a first and recorded 2 tackles on the season. His average on the season, 42.2, ranks him 10th on the all time Cal punting average.

His sophomore season had him regressing slightly, but still posting a solid season. His punting average dropped from 42.2 to 40.8, but what he lost in distance he made up for in positioning. Harris raised his punts inside the 20 from 8 to 27. His 27 was 31% of his total punts, which was 85. That number was a school record, showing how inept that offense truly was. He punted 16 balls 50 yards or more, including another 63 yarder.

His junior season was a great improvement over his sophomore year. Harris would lead the Pac-10 in punting by over 4 yards! He averaged 44.6 yards per punt on the season, which lands him 3rd on the Cal alltime seasonal list (that’s 2 appearances all ready, for those counting). He would have 29 punts of over 50 yards, and 6 over 60. He had a 65 and a 64 yard punt against Nebraska. He also had a 68 yard punt against UCLA, and a 70 yard punt against Oregon State. He would get 21 punts inside the 20 yard line.

Harris entered his senior season needing 72 punts to break the most punts record and 1,997 yards to break the largest yardage record. Coming into the season, he was a 1st team All-American. Harris would break both records, barely sneaking by with 73 punts and shattering the record with 3,030 yards on the season. His average would drop to 41.5 on the season, which is still a very good number. But his total punts inside the 20 would rise dramatically, as he would down 36 punts inside the 20! Of that number, only 4 of them were touchbacks. Almost 50% of his punts were inside the 20 on the season. His longest punt was 64 yards.

Nick Harris, the NCAA leader in total punting yards and punts. The 2nd leading punting average in school history. One of the lone bright spots in the dismal Holmoecaust. Spawned a Heisman campaign. For a punter! VOTE NICK HARRIS!!!!!!! Also, NICK HARRIS FOR HEISMAN!

As for Steve, Tightwad Hill recapped his storybook season.

There's no harder player to rate than #17 on our 50 Greatest countdown. Steve Bartkowski is, of course, the only Golden Bear to be picked #1 in the NFL draft. No quarterback in the school's history possessed the arm strength of #10, who was reported by assistant coach Paul Hackett to have thrown a football 100 yards in the air at practices. Few if any players matched his overall athletic ability; Bartkowski was also a magnificent baseball player who made All-America as a 1st baseman in 1973.

In his senior year of 1974, Bartkowski put it all together once he got to work with Hackett, a punchline of a head coach who was nevertheless a gifted tutor of quarterbacks. He convinced Bartkowski to trade velocity for accuracy, and the results were spectacular. Despite playing through the pain of a separated shoulder, Bart led the nation with 2,580 yards passing and earned consensus All-America honors for the 7-3-1 Bears. He topped the 300 yard mark four times (Washington, WSU, UCLA, Stanford); each of those efforts came after the shoulder injury, suffered in a 31-14 upset win over #14 Illinois in Champaign. Bartkowski finished 10th in voting for the Heisman that year, and would almost surely have ranked higher had he received even a modest amount of pre-season hype.

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