Tebow Third String? Don't Be Shocked
By Steve Barnes
I live in Florida. I am surrounded by Gators fans. There are two things you never tell a Florida fan: First, never say the Gators would ever lose to anyone, including the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 101st Airborne. Second, never, ever tell them Tim Tebow is a third-string quarterback in the NFL.
The Gators fans will point out he won a playoff game in Denver with an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime. They forget that he threw it 15 yards and the receiver ran 65. They will tell you he never got a shot in New York — and they might be right about that. They also will tell you New England is going to remove Tom Brady from the game when the Patriots are in the red zone because Tebow is a winner. Yeah, the Brady guy isn't very good at getting his team in the end zone.
But Gators fans, don't be shocked. It is not a Tebow thing that he is not having a pro career that will send him to Canton. It is a Southeastern Conference thing.
A look at the history of the SEC quarterbacks proves my point. Unless your last name happens to be Manning, for the most part, the league does not produce great NFL quarterbacks.
Let's do a school-by-school analysis and see who the best pro quarterback is from each team:
Alabama: The Tide produced the winning quarterback in the first three Super Bowls, plus one after that. Of the three candidates, Joe Namath had the best career over Bart Starr and Ken Stabler. We only had to go back 49 years to find Namath.
Arkansas: Relative newcomers to the SEC, the Razorbacks still suffer from the conference signal-caller drought. The Arkansas quarterback with the best career was Joe Ferguson who left Fayetteville in 1972. He was best known for handing the ball off to O.J. Simpson. After him, Clint Stoerner started a couple of times for the Cowboys, but that is about it. Where is Ryan Mallett anyway?
Auburn: Cam Newton kind of blows a hole in my theory. Before him, however, who would have you picked? Jason Campbell? Pat Sullivan?
Florida: Start the hate mail. It ain't Tebow. It's not Spurrier or Wuerrfel or Reaves, who each were All-Americans. The Gators quarterback who has had the best pro career is Rex Grossman. At least he started in a Super Bowl.
Georgia: Eric Zeier was supposed to be the perfect pro prospect. The last I remember, he was bounced out of the Arena Football League. To find the Bulldogs player with the best career, go back to the '60s again to find Fran Tarkenton. Sir Francis took Minnesota to three Super Bowls. He lost them all.
Kentucky: UK is a basketball school and also Quarterback Bust U. Tim Couch. Jared Lorenzen. At first, I thought the easy choice was Babe Parelli, the top pick in the 1962 draft. But I am going farther back and selecting George Blanda from 1949. He played for the Oilers and the Raiders forever. In fact, he might still be on a roster somewhere.
LSU: Is anyone waiting for me to say JaMarcus Russell? David Woodley led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl once, but lost. How about Bert Jones? He played nine years in the NFL, eight of those years with the Baltimore Colts, and he always had them in the playoffs.
Mississippi State: I admit it, I had to go to the MSU media guide because I couldn't think of a pro quarterback from Mississippi State except for the fictional one that the Rock beat up in the first scene from "The Rundown." It seems Joe Reed played for San Francisco and Detroit, so he wins by default.
Missouri: Another newcomer, so the jury is still out on Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert. Brad Smith is now listed as a wide receiver.
Ole Miss: Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls. Archie was the face of the Saints. John Fourcade came into the NFL as a replacement player during the player strike and ended up winning the starting job. Just pick a Manning.
South Carolina: The first two Carolina quarterbacks I thought of were Steve Tannyhill and Todd Ellis. Neither amounted to much in pro ball. The winner actually didn't play quarterback in the NFL. Dan Reeves was a running back in Dallas before leading Denver and Atlanta to the Super Bowl as a head coach.
Tennessee: Duh. Peyton Manning. Was I supposed to pick Heath Shuler or Tee Martin?
Texas A&M: Again the jury is out on Ryan Tannehill in Miami. If he has a good career, he will pass Gary Kubiak. Kubiak spent the bulk of his career in Denver holding a clipboard and watching John Elway.
Vanderbilt: One day it could be Jay Cutler, but at the moment, go back about half a century to find Bill Wade. He was the top draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams and played 14 years.
Don't fret SEC fans. The conference still produces more players than anyone else.