This is a favorite subject of mine. Being a fairly hard-core follower of Track and Field for the past 30 years, I get a kick out of hearing the average high school and college football fans talk about kids running 4.3 or better in the 40. For one thing, a true electronic timed 4.5, 0r even 4.7, is fast. Since this is not an officially run distance in T@F, there is no true basis for comparision. However a few other revelent observations:
Dion Sanders is said to have run a 4.26 at the combine in Indy, the fastest time ever recorded. I assume this was electronically timed.I also don't know when they started keeping track of such times.
Also, I was privledged to attend the 1983 NCAAs at Robertson Stadium in Houston. That year was the greatest collection of fast football players ever. In the 100 final, if my memory serves me correctly, were Darrell Green, Willie Gault, Phillip Epps, Sam Grady and maybe Ron Brown. Carl Lewis had already turned pro but was still attending school. Carl's training partner at the University of Houston, Stanley Floyd, won the race. Floyd was about 5' 6" and weighed 145 pounds. He later had a tryout with Montreal in the Cananadian Football League, where he supposedly ran a 3.91 40 yd. (I assume hand-timed). It made the U.S. papers the next day!
Floyd, and some of the football players/sprinters of that era (especially Sam Grady) consistantly would be ahead of Carl Lewis at the equivalent 40 yd. point of a 100 meter race, but Carl would always smoke them from 50 m. on, like they were standing still. Thus I also see little revelence between 40 yd. and 100 m. times.