I was born in 1958 and became a basketball fan around 1971, so writing a column about the best players in the pre-ESPN era is like a historian writing about Roosevelt or Lincoln. It requires a lot of research.
The pre-ESPN players that I remember for their college greatness I saw, for the most part, during and at the end of their storied NBA careers. Nevertheless, my passion for college basketball and my sense of the game's history serves me well as I carve my "Rushmore Four."
While there surely will be controversy whenever someone selects players from different eras, my selection of the four greatest college players before 1980 was pretty easy. Still, it was not a layup, but more like an open 12-foot jump shot. The arguments may be more in the order in which I selected my choices because each was dominant in his own way on the college game. I also will cover my "near misses" in the process.