Anyone who watches ESPN knows there is an ongoing argument on how good certain SEC quarterbacks really are. Last April ESPN Analyst Brock Huard wrote an article that dubbed USC "Quarterback U". While at the time I am sure he was riding the Matt Barkley for the Heisman train, it still raised attention to the ongoing debate on if there even is a Quarterback U, and if USC deserved it at all. Debates come and go from sporting news, articles, radio shows, and hundreds of blogs lobbying for one or two schools in particular. Even the so called "experts" can't help but raise the question throughout the fall. Not even bringing up the Stephen A. Smith vs. Skip Bayless tirades about SEC vs. The World, it is clear to see there is constant debate over which conference produces the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL.
Since USC has been the popular candidate in recent years we can use their quarterbacks to compare with the rest of the pool of colleges and conferences. For the sake of argument let`s compare USC, and the SEC.
Every year when the Heisman trophy is presented to the top player in college football we expect to see a signal caller in the final three. With the SEC being as dominate as it has been the last two decades you would expect at least one quarterback to be in contention by December. Johnny Manziel won in 2012, Cam Newton in 2010, and Tim Tebow in 2007(in 2008 he received the most first place votes and still lost). What do these three quarterbacks have in common? All are from the SEC. Even winning the most prestigious individual award in college football doesn't seem to quell the argument about the true value of SEC signal callers. TV, Radio, Writers, and bloggers all have their own opinion, but it seems to be that the lack of SEC star quarterbacks translating to the NFL, and dominating as they did in college creates a void in the sports world about how the talent level is overrated, or in some cases(Tim Tebow) not even there. So let`s explore the issue on what it seems to give the impression quarterbacks from USC are leaps and bounds better than those in the SEC.
Take the argument over how USC has been QB U over the past decade because of how many drafts have had a USC quarterback taken in the early rounds. Are we really going to say Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart, and Carson Palmer are elite level quarterbacks like the apparently were in college? The answer is no. Palmer may have the best argument to say he has had the most success, since he won the Heisman and was drafted by the Bengals his career has been up and down in the regular and post season. Mark Sanchez, and Matt Leinart are perfect examples of hype, over hope. Both were Prima Donnas from day one at USC, and took the same attitude to the NFL. You could even say they considered themselves entitled because of their college background. In the end, Sanchez rode a talented team that overachieved, and Leinart proved to be a head case with a weak arm. Andrew Luck is a blessing to those who say the PAC 10 is still a dominate quarterback conference, but time will tell if he can truly pull ahead of the rest.
So now that we have an idea as to what others consider an elite quarterback from a conference that produces them year in and year out. Let's take a look at the SEC crop:
The obvious starting point is Peyton Manning. Granted he never beat Florida in all four years, but still drafted number one overall, Heisman Candidate, and is in contention to breaking all the records Brett Favre set just a few years ago. Just ask the NFL players who just recently put him number two on their Top 100 list of 2013(a year after his supposedly career ending neck injury). Oh yea, and let's not forget he has won a Super Bowl. Something no USC quarterback has done....ever.
Next we can look to Peyton`s brother Eli. At Ole Miss he never got the same hype as Peyton because of the lack of talent around him, but still managed to be drafted number one overall. The fact that shocks people the most is his two Super Bowl titles compared to his more revered sibling's one. While Eli`s talent level is not as dominate as Peyton, his game managing skills and playoff performance has clearly put him in the elite status. Just between the two Manning`s they have won more playoff games (Peyton=9, Eli=8) than all other USC quarterbacks (USC QB`s=9) combined. If stats are what define a career I think its pretty clear where domination comes from.
The bottom line is Elite Level quarterbacks come from programs that grow, develop, enhance, and showcase their talents. USC has produced Elite NFL prospects, but for people to dub them as Quarterback U when they have yet to produce a winner is just absurd.
One day the next great quarterback might be from USC, and break every record in the book, but until they can produce someone that can lead them to the promise land for the first time; Let`s let the facts speak for themselves.