ChatGPT Ranks Best BYU Football Players Of All-Time

Apr 25, 2023, 12:29 PM | Updated: 12:34 pm

PROVO, Utah – Which BYU football player does an artificial intelligence service like ChatGPT think is the best all-time?

After listening to the AI Drake and The Weeknd song, “Heart On My Sleeve,” on loop the past few days, I can’t help but be stunned by what results these robots can produce.

So it had me thinking, why not figure out what AI has to say regarding the best BYU football player ever debate?

ChatGPT gives its 10 best BYU football players of all-time

Here’s the list ChatGPT AI’s conversational tool generated for the all-time greatest BYU football players.

  • 1. Steve Young, QB (1980-1983)
  • 2. Ty Detmer, QB (1987-1991)
  • 3. Jim McMahon, QB (1977-1981)
  • 4. Gifford Nielsen, QB (1973-1977)
  • 5. Austin Collie, WR (2004, 2007-2008)
  • 6. Luke Staley, RB (1999-2001)
  • 7. Robbie Bosco, QB (1981-1985)
  • 8. Todd Christensen, FB (1974-1977)
  • 9. Ziggy Ansah, DE (2010-2012)
  • 10. Dennis Pitta, TE (2004, 2007-2009)

What are your thoughts?

When I saw these results, my initial reaction was that this had a heavy lean on NFL career, plus national awards.

Can’t go wrong with Young, Detmer, and McMahon

The combination of Steve Young, Ty Detmer, and Jim McMahon as the top three is correct. You can rank them in any order you’d like, and you probably can’t go wrong. However, most BYU fans would likely tab Ty Detmer at the top because he won the 1990 Heisman Trophy, plus he pulled off the greatest win in program history by taking down No. 1 Miami.

But it’s also hard to argue against Jim McMahon, who rewrote the NCAA record books during his time at BYU. Plus, he led the program to their first bowl victory, a miracle win over the Pony Express of SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl.

Steve Young had by far the best NFL career of any former BYU player. He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was a Super Bowl MVP. But to have him as the best BYU player of all time? As far as talent and athleticism, very few beat Young at the QB position. It’s just hard to top the BYU careers of Detmer and McMahon.

Strong NFL influence

The heavy NFL influence in the ChatGPT ranking shows itself placing the late great Todd Christensen at No. 8. Christensen was a star with the Raiders in the NFL at tight end. At BYU, he was a BYU Hall of Fame player as a fullback. He earned first-team All-WAC honors in 1977.

Christensen eclipsed 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving in his BYU career. But should he be ranked higher than his teammate Marc Wilson?

Greatest BYU football player on defense?

Another interesting wrinkle on the ranking was at No. 9, Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah. Based on this list, artificial intelligence sees the former walk-on defensive end as the greatest defensive player in BYU history.

Ansah was the No. 5 overall pick to the Detroit Lions in the 2013 NFL Draft. He terrorized opposing offenses during the 2012 season, totaling 62 tackles, 13 of which were for loss, four sacks, one interception, six quarterback hurries, and nine pass breakups.

Would you put Ansah’s one season above the career of Outland Trophy winner Jason Buck or former linebacker Kyle Van Noy? What about former All-American Kyle Morrell at safety?

Like humans, artificial intelligence leaves room for debate on their takes.

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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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ChatGPT Ranks Best BYU Football Players Of All-Time