By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
While aimlessly surfing the net the other day in search of another aimless column, I happened to stumble across a nearly two-year-old listing of one man’s choice of the top 50 college quarterbacks of all time on Bleacher Report.
Interesting, certainly, and since it is but one man’s opinion it is hardly worth arguing with the order in which he put his quarterbacks, although surely he would get some argument with his choice of the No. 1 quarterback of all time, Tim Tebow of Florida.
Having told you that, let’s finish off the Top Ten before making the point behind bringing this useless exercise up again. They are:
1. Tim Tebow, Florida
2. Vince Young, Texas
3. Doug Flutie, Boston College
4. Jim Plunkett, Stanford
5. Charlie Ward, Florida State
6. Cam Newton, Auburn
7. Tommie Frazier, Nebraska
8. Michael Vick, Virginia Tech
9. Chris Weinke, Florida State
10. Joe Namath, Alabama
Again, it is one man’s opinion, so there is no right or wrong and certainly there also can be no unanimity in agreement with those 10 picks in order. Seems strange, though, that the best quarterback of any given year wins the Davey O’Brien Award, yet he is not among the Top 10.
But here’s the rub.
Pat White, who led West Virginia to four consecutive bowl games, beating Oklahoma and Georgia in two of them, who changed WVU football and probably as much as anyone else is responsible for them having the reputation they have that allowed them to jump from a dying Big East to the Big 12, is not among the Top 50.
Before you ask, Major Harris is. That quarterback, who was far ahead of his time, was ranked No. 41 and probably would have been a lot higher had he stayed for his senior season.
And Geno Smith had not played out his junior or senior year when the rankings were put forth, so he was not considered. Seeing as his team finished just 7-5 in his best year there is some question if he would have made the list anyway.
But White not being on there?
Let us, for a moment, also note that the author of this list noted that a long group of distinguished quarterbacks also can be ranked no higher than honorable mention by him, that being Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Dan Fouts, Case Keenum, Roger Staubach, Paul Hornung, Matthew Stafford, Terry Bradshaw, Ryan Leaf, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Mark Rypien, David Klingler, Danny White, Colt McCoy, Jim Harbaugh “and I could probably list 20 more ... at least,” he wrote. Hopefully he would have Pat White among those 20 more anyway.
I’m not sure how you judge a Top 50 list of college quarterbacks, considering the depth of the field of candidates and the changes in the position over that time.
But of one thing I am certain.
There were not 50 whose qualities ranked them above White, who may not have been the most effective passer of the group but whose running qualities were unmatched and who, once you got up close and personal to him, had leadership values that elevated him to heights even his game could not reach.
We all know he was on the losing side of the Pitt game in his junior year, a game that, had he produced big numbers and the expected easy victory to propel the Mountaineers into a national championship game that most believe was quite winnable for them, would have rocketed him up the list.
But White’s problems on that day were two-fold, first being injury and the second being Coach Rich Rodriguez’s reluctance to allow him to throw the ball deep down the middle, which was wide open all day as the Panthers sold out to stop WVU’s vaunted running game that was built around White’s greatest skills.
To leave the best running quarterback of all time off your list, a QB who rushed for 4,480 yards and threw for another 6,051 while accounting for 103 touchdowns via ground and air, is ludicrous.
Who would you put him ahead of on the list? Certainly Joe Hamilton of Georgia Tech, Tony Rice of Notre Dame, Ben Roethlisberger of Miami of Ohio, Chase Daniel of Missouri, Kordell Stewart of Colorado, Eric Zeier of Georgia, and Ken Dorsey of Miami.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.