Nov 012012

SB Nation Pittsburgh links to a Ben Roethlisberger quote ruminating on whether his draft class may eventually surpass the fabled 1983 QB draft class that included John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino (and a couple other guys named Bob).

“And all four quarterbacks — Matt Schaub, Philip (Rivers), myself and Eli — that were drafted there. I hope we can play well enough that one day they talk about us as maybe the best quarterback draft class of all time.”

Let’s check out the numbers.

Class of 1983 Designation Superbowl Record Passing Yards Years Yardage Rank
John Elway HOF 2-3 51,475 16 4
Todd Blackledge Bust 0-0 5,283 7 245
Jim Kelly HOF 0-4 35,467 11 18
Tony Eason Ok 0-1 11,142 8 154
Ken O’Brien Ok 0-0 25,094 10 62
Dan Marino HOF 0-1 61,361 17 2
Totals/Averages 2-9 189,822 69 80.83
Class of 2004 Designation Superbowl Record Passing Yards Years Yardage Rank
Eli Manning Potential HOF 2-0 29,980 8.5 36
Philip Rivers Mediocre 0-0 25,931 8.5 58
Ben Roethlisberger Potential HOF 2-1 28,566 8.5 44
J.P. Losman Bust 0-0 6,271 8 223
Matt Schaub Undecided 0-0 19,586 8.5 98
Totals/Averages 4-1 110,334 42 91.8

I tend to believe 2004 has already surpassed 1983 because of a superior Superbowl record. 2-9 for 1983? That’s abysmal! Continue reading »

Jul 192012

Talent as much as hard work perseveres in college football. Many of the great high school athletes play two positions in high school – RB/LB, WR/LB, QB/DB, etc. They then pick one position for college. It’s up to the college coach to put his players in a place to success but the truly gifted can probably still get by on talent in college. Some let the coach pick, others insist on a particular position.

Sometimes selfishness pays off. Pitt great Larry Fitzgerald recently revealed that he was nearly swayed by the grand experiment, the “success with honor” bullsh*t peddled by Joe Paterno at Pennstate. He nearly became a Nittany Lion linebacker.

More than 10 years ago, this [numbers-first] attitude led to a life-changing decision. He said no to Joe Paterno, who wanted Fitzgerald to play linebacker, to be part of a great Penn State tradition.

“I played linebacker all the way up to my senior year in high school,” Fitzgerald said. “I was heavily recruited as a defensive player. I had about 25 to 30 offers coming out, and probably 70 percent of them were defensive offers. I grew up watching Penn State, and was really enamored by the defense at Linebacker U.”

Except Fitzgerald was chasing something else, and he did something rare. Like Tony Dorsett, he chose the University of Pittsburgh instead, where Fitzgerald would be the team’s star wide receiver, catching 34 touchdown passes in two seasons before jumping all the way to the NFL.

Despite their well-worn reputation as “Linebacker U”, perhaps Pennstate should stop trying to turn every great athlete into a linebacker!

LaVar Arrington was a RB/LB in high school. In fact, he was known as much for his running skills at Mars & North Hills High School so it was a surprise to me when he switched over to LB fulltime at Pennstate. Paterno may have gotten it right on this one but I’ve always wondered how Arrington would have done at running back.

Pro football Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly grew up in East Brady, PA, in the heart of Pennstate country. He always wanted to play at Pennstate. The only thing he wanted to do more than play at Pennstate was to play quarterback. But Joe Paterno wanted him at LB. So Kelly chose to go to the University of Miami instead. Bam.

Photo Credit: John Beale, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Former Pitt QB Rod Rutherford was one of most sought after recruits in the country during his days at Perry Traditional Academy. Almost no one thought he would end up at Pitt, especially after the sainted Paterno paid an in-person visit to the Rutherford house. But Pitt coach Walt Harris did what Paterno wouldn’t do. He promised Rutherford the opportunity to play offense, namely QB, not linebacker or safety. Two years later, Rutherford scampered 60+ yards for the only touchdown in the last game Paterno ever coached against Pitt. For his career, Rod Rutherford finished with 458 completions in 840 attempts, passing for 6,725 yards and 60 touchdowns.

Photo Credit: John Beale, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

[As an aside, I don’t really feel like commenting on the whole PSU/Paterno/Sandusky conflagration. So instead, I’ll rip on Pennstate in the way they’ll best understand, on the gridiron].