7.4 Billion People and Nine Can Play Quarterback

After Labor Day you’re not supposed to wear white. Well about 95% of college and NFL teams need to wave the proverbial white flag, because you the lost the quarterback lottery.

In college, it’s a little more controlled.

Nick Saban, Les Miles and other level one coaches have a statistical advantage of getting the best quarterback. Better tradition, coaches, facilities and stronger surrounding talent make the playing field uneven.

Nick Saban trying to turn Jake Coker into a “quarterback”.

You would have to assume then that all of the SEC powers — and other top programs — are constantly churning out NFL first rounders, with college stars blowing away the surrounding competitors.


It doesn’t matter what league you coach in, finding a good quarterback is like trying to hit the Powerball Pick 6 numbers. At least in the Powerball, I can pick my numbers. With my quarterback I have to take what’s left over.

If I’m the standard college coach, I have to wait after every powerhouse college takes the top talent.

In the NFL, a league of parity, my best gamble is if Sam Bradford can catch a Southwest flight after my quarterback shatters his knee while throwing a wheel route.

Sorry Teddy Bridgewater, get well soon.

Do the math. It’s baffling in a world where football is the absolute king, we can’t find 1,000 quarterbacks, let alone half a dozen to be great quarterbacks.

The most popular sport of our lifetime, meets the most glamorous position in society (aka being Tom Brady). An accomplishable dream if you have a little talent, incredible dedication and maturity.

Tom Brady and Tom Cruise. ESPY's 2004. American Royalty
Tom Brady and Tom Cruise. ESPY’s 2004. American Royalty.

If you told actors you just needed good looks, stage presence and stability to come to work everyday on time, we would have 10,000,000 Tom Cruise’s and Meryl Streep’s.

But in football, it doesn’t work that way because of the two things I mentioned and one other huge factor I didn’t.

Dedication, maturity, and ultimately just flat out luck.

These three key traits cause general managers and coaches to get fired, fans to burn jerseys and ultimately keep guys like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper in business.

The talent isn’t an issue.

We’ve seen now more than ever, a million guys who have Michael Vick speed or arm strength so powerful  they can throw a Wilson through Rhode Island without losing velocity.

Let me go back a second to the beginning where I said the Alabamas of the world have the advantage over everyone else at picking quarterbacks.

Michael Vick back when he was Michael Vick.
Michael Vick back when he was Michael Vick.

How is that working out though?

Nick Saban is in the midst of the greatest dynasty in the history of college football. When they come out of a commercial on ESPN with the 10,000th “30 for 30”,  what is the narrator going to say?

“What if I told you, Greg McElroy could watch an entire team carry him to a national championship?”

Saban has been at Alabama for nearly a decade and has, at some point, had the best player at every position on the field in college — except quarterback.

I’ll just give you his star-studded lineup of quarterbacks who “led” them to a title.

The first was Greg McElroy in ’09, he’s already started his broadcasting tour. Second,  let’s go AJ McCarron, who is still battling to beat out a guy in Cincinnati that hasn’t won a game where more than 20 people were watching. Then, we have Jake Coker, who I’m pretty sure was the guy that tried to save me 15 percent in 15 minutes over the phone with GEICO.

Sorry Jake, Farm Bureau has my heart and overly priced deductible.

It not just Alabama either. Look at the other major football schools. I’ll name the top quarterback over the last decade who has had success long term. From LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, Texas, Florida, Ohio State and Michigan.

Jamarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Terrell Pryor and Chad Henne just caught on the back end with the decade.

So for the top programs in college football over the last decade, I have two first-round busts, a broadcaster, a quarterback who is trying to be a wideout, a decent back up and the son of God who is trying to pray his way into a minor league baseball deal.

Why is that? For the majority, it is maturity and dedication.

We all know about the problems off the field that destroyed the careers of Russell, Young, Pryor and even Tebow to extent. With Quinn and Henne, it leans towards bad luck of starting with a bad franchise and just simply not panning out like some might of thought.

So that’s the college stars for you. Now lets look at the NFL, where most come from the “mid majors” or overlooked schools.

Here is the last month in a nutshell.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher looks like a cast member off deadliest catch. With Jared Goff as his quarterback, he'll be in a lake near you.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher looks like a cast member off deadliest catch. With Jared Goff as his quarterback, he’ll be in a lake near you.

Teddy Bridgewater’s career could be over. Romo is one more back injury from needing a chairlift installed at his estate. Jared Goff doesn’t play well in front of cameras from HBO or FOX. Peyton Manning is doing more generic commercials than ever.

At the end if you’re a football team in college here are the guys you can rely on, no matter the circumstances.

Give me Brady, Rodgers, Cam, Russell Wilson on Sundays, and maybe Greg Ward Jr. from Houston on Saturdays. Mainly because he plays nine games against teams that should be on the verge of shutting down shop with their football programs.

So I said nine reliable guys in the headline?

I meant five and I’ll make it six if Andrew Luck has a competent enough offensive line to keep his kidneys functioning this season.

For the rest of the fan bases save your 401Ks from getting gouged on the overpriced stadium licenses.  Buy a 60-inch television, and get accustomed to seeing plays similar to this.


8 thoughts on “7.4 Billion People and Nine Can Play Quarterback

  1. Clay, you had me cracking up the whole article. But most of all, from this comment:

    “So for the top programs in college football over the last decade I have 2 first round busts, a broadcaster, a quarterback who is trying to be a wideout, a decent back up, and the son of God who is trying to pray his way into a minor league baseball deal.”

    Not only is this funny, but also a very good point that illustrates the complete and total mediocrity of the position.

    Overall, great article on the most important position in sports. Now here’s to Andrew Luck buying his offensive line feast dinners throughout the season, for his own protection.

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