My 9 year old son and I were musing about which college conference has produced the best NFL quarterbacks; I figured it had to be the Pac-10, but he wondered whether it was the SEC based on its success in the BCS championship games.
"The SEC wins because of defense and running backs, not quarterbacks," I responded.
My dad, a big Michigan fan, chimed in with the thought the Big Ten would win this contest.
Hah! So I started thinking off the top of my head, who would be the best quarterback -- in terms of NFL careers -- from each Pac-10 school. Three were pretty easy:
Stanford: John Elway
UCLA: Troy Aikman
Cal-Berkeley: Aaron Rodgers
A little bit of thought added:
Washington State: Drew Bledsoe
Washington: Warren Moon
Oregon: Dan Fouts
Those six were/are all really good to great NFL quarterbacks. Then it starts getting harder:
Arizona State: um, Jake Plummer
Oregon State: uh, Matt Moore or Derek Anderson?
What's the remaining school? Oh, yes, USC. I was shocked when I went through the list of starting quarterbacks for USC at how . . . unimpressive the Trojans' quarterbacks have been in the NFL, especially considering how many have been drafted:
Matt Barkley: we'll see how his career goes
Mark Sanchez: going backwards/getting worse every year
Matt Leinart: bust
Carson Palmer: best of the bunch but average at best in the NFL
Rob Johnson: relatively long career in the NFL but mostly as a backup, and when given the starting job, he lost it to Doug Flutie, Alex van Pelt, and others
Todd Marinovich: ha ha ha ha ha ha
Rodney Peete: he beat Aikman in the UCLA-USC game but came nowhere close to Aikman's success; long career as a backup
Sean Salisbury: another relatively longish career as a backup
* * *
As for the Pac-10 versus the Big Ten, well, I'll go through the Big Ten schools another time (maybe), although off the top of my head, I'll have to admit that it starts off with two heavy hitters from Purdue (Drew Brees) and Michigan (Tom Brady).