A few days ago, SI.com's Andrew Adams posted this story about the college football landscape. His basic argument is that the SEC is no longer the dominant conference it once was because, while the other conferences have caught up to the SEC in terms of talent at the skill positions, offensive and defensive lines, the SEC trails the other conferences in terms of talent at quarterback. I don't argue the point - I think it's fair to say the SEC has never been thought of as a "quarterback's conference." But it got me thinking about SEC QBs and the NFL.
A short amount of research led me to a startling revelation. Would it surprise you to know that the SEC has more current starting NFL quarterbacks than any other conference? It surprised me, but it's true. Of the 32 current starting quarterbacks in the NFL, six are from the SEC (will be seven once the Browns come to their senses and re-instate Johnny Manziel as starter), five from the Pac-12, and three each from the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC.
The six quarterbacks from SEC schools starting in the NFL are Auburn's Cam Newton (Carolina), Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler (Chicago, although he's "day-to-day"), Georgia's Matthew Stafford (Detroit), Arkansas' Ryan Mallett (Houston), Tennessee's Peyton Manning (Denver) and Mississippi's Eli Manning (NY Giants).
Yes, the Mannings probably would be starters in the NFL even if they had gone to [insert school here] and [insert other school here], but they chose the SEC, so there.
What's fascinating about the SEC quarterbacks currently starting for NFL teams is that only one came from a team that either won a national championship or was in the mix for a national championship, and that's Cam. In fact, since the start of the BCS era, of the 10 quarterbacks that led an SEC team to either a national championship, an appearance in the national championship game or an appearance in the playoffs, only three are currently on an NFL roster, and only two are quarterbacks. Cam is a starter, Alabama's AJ McCarron is a backup with the Bengals and Auburn's Nick Marshall is a cornerback with the Jaguars.
So what I've learned here today is that the SEC actually IS a quarterbacks conference; unfortunately, those quarterbacks aren't coming from the national championship contenders.
In the end, Adams is right, and also wrong, but unfortunately the aspect he's right about is what is probably going to keep the SEC from winning a national championship this season.
SEC Quarterbacks now Starting in the NFL
Cam Newton (Auburn), Carolina
Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt)*, Chicago
Matthew Stafford (Georgia), Detroit
Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Houston
Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Denver
Eli Manning (Ole Miss), NY Giants
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)^, Cleveland
Quarterbacks that led SEC Teams to the National Championship Game/Playoffs
1998, Tennessee, Tee Martin
2003, LSU, Matt Mauck
2006, Florida, Chris Leak (sigh)
2007, LSU, Matt Flynn
2008, Florida, Tim Tebow (double sigh)
2009, Alabama, Greg McElroy
2010, Auburn, Cam Newton
2011, Alabama, AJ McCarron*
2012, Alabama, AJ McCarron
2013, Auburn (nat'l runners-up), Nick Marshal
2014, Alabama (playoff), Blake Sims