Sunday, July 6, 2008

Football Factories: The 33rd Team of the NFL

I recently viewed the NFL Network’s “top 10 list”, and the subject was “NFL football factories”. And though I had no doubt that the Trojans would top the list, some of the choices or positions in the order were debatable. The list is based on the all time production of programs, when it comes to generating NFL talent. Here’s the list, along with their resumes and my own commentary on each. At first glance, you may see something noticeably missing. This list from the NFL Network doesn’t include a single Big 12 program.

1. Southern California Trojans

With 11 NFL Hall of fame inductees, and 59 Trojans making 201 Pro Bowl appearances, USC is placed above all others in terms of NFL production. If we’re ranking programs based on their talent levels, there’s no greater measure than reaching the NFL’s highest plateaus. Trojan players have made 97 Superbowl appearances, with WR Steve Smith being the most recent to wear a championship ring. In 41 Superbowls, a Trojan has appeared in all but 3, which supports the old adage that if you want to be an NFL champion, you increase the odds with a Trojan on your roster. If Smith’s Giants would have failed in their upset bid, another Trojan, Junior Seau of the Patriots, would have earned his first Superbowl ring.

Aside from spitting out players, this factory also produces coaches. Current NFL coaches from USC include Lane Kiffin (Raiders), Jack Del Rio (Jaguars), Norv Turner (Chargers), Jeff Fisher (Titans), Rod Marinelli (Lions), and Mike Holmgren (Seahawks). Former NFL coaches are Joe Gibbs, Steve Mariucci, John Robinson, John McKay, Wayne Fontes, and of course, Pete Carroll.

2. Miami Hurricanes

If this list was limited to modern football factories, the U would occupy the top spot. Even sitting in the second position is questionable, with their span of excellence only extending 25 years. But without a doubt, the Canes have more impact on today’s NFL playing fields than any other college program.

Miami has produced Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., Michael Irvin, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Jonathan Vilma, Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, Devin Hester, Sean Taylor, Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinnie Testeverde, Andre Johnson, and Antrelle Rolle, just to name a few. They produced 19 first round picks in a 4 year span, which stands as a record. In the past 20 years, no school has sent more players to the NFL than the Miami Hurricanes (136).

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Here come the Irish, but they should have already arrived. Realistically, if you’re not going to punish the Canes for arriving late, how can you punish the Irish for building their factory early? The Irish have 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of fame, compared to Miami’s 4. Notre Dame had 461 players drafted. Miami had 293. Giving a fair assessment, based on “all time factories”, Miami isn’t even in the same ballpark as Notre Dame.

Notre Dame’s production includes Joe Montana, Joe Theisman, Tim Brown, Rocket Ismail, Jerome Bettis, Julius Jones, Bob Golic, Dave Casper, Chris Zorich, Ryan Grant, Justin Tuck, and Reynaldo Wynn. Montana and Theisman combine for 5 Superbowl victories by Irish quarterbacks.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

If you want to erase the Big 10 and Ohio State “lack of speed” myths, then all it takes is some name dropping. Tedd Ginn Jr., Cris Carter, Joey Galloway, Santonio Holmes, Anthony Gonzalez, and Terry Glenn are all Buckeyes. THE Ohio State has produced 53 NFL pro bowl players. 7 Heisman Trophies have been won by 6 players. Other notable NFL names include Eddie George, Mike Vrabel, A.J. Hawke, Orlando Pace, Chris Spielman, Shawn Springs, Paul Warfield, and Jim Marshall. What’s obviously missing from the list of Buckeyes is a great quarterback. In terms of quarterback production, OSU is nowhere near a factory, but manages to fill all other positions in the sport.

5. Michigan Wolverines

Here’s something we’ve become familiar with over the years, “The wolverines trail the Buckeyes”. The NFL Network’s number four and five teams are actually interchangeable, and you probably wouldn’t get an argument from anyone outside of the states of Michigan and Ohio.

The Wolverines have produced 7 Hall of Famers, and 36 Pro Bowlers. Braylon Edwards, Ty Law, Brian Griese, Dan Dierdoff, Desmond Howard, Anthony Carter, Todd Collins, Steve Hutchinson, Marlin Jackson, Cato June, Amani Toomer, Chris Perry, Jon Runyan, LaMarr Woodley, Charles Woodson, and Mr. Tom Brady are all U of M alum.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide

Montana and Theisman may have given Notre Dame 5 superbowl rings, but the Alabama Crimson tide boasts 3 quarterbacks, Bart Starr, Ken Stabler, and Joe Namath, that have led their NFL teams to championship victory. With 6 Hall of Fame inductess, the Network rated the Tide as the top football factory in the SEC.

7. Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State is the third Big 10 program to make this list, giving the conference the most representatives of all conferences. Credit Joe Paterno for his ability to consistently recruit NFL caliber talent throughout the years. The count is 5 Hall of Famers and 34 pro bowl players for the Nittany Lions.

8. Syracuse Orange

Syracuse? The Orange never struck me as a football factory, despite their production of Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. Marvin Harrison, Daryl Johnston, Donovan McNabb, Art Monk, Larry Csonka, David Tyree, Keith Bullock, Dwight Freeney and John Mackey are also Syracuse products. And in case you’re reading this and scratching your head, consider that the Orange’s 6 Hall of Fame members are more than Texas, OU, and Florida State combined.

9. The Mid-American Conference

This is by far their worst choice, because it’s totally unfair. You can’t pit an entire conference against individual programs. Where would the MAC rank, if matched against other conferences?

The conference produced Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Lefwich, Antonio Gates, Jason Taylor, Jack Lambert, Chester Taylor, and Josh Cribbs. But if you compare rosters to those of other conferences, the MAC would severely slump in numbers. Bad choice.

10. Tennessee Volunteers.

With 37 Pro Bowl players and 2 Hall of Famers, the Vols secured the final spot on the list. Peyton Manning and Reggie White may be the biggest Tennessee headliners, but other names of note are Jason Witten, Bill Bates, Albert Haynesworth, Travis Henry, Carl Pickens, Jamal Lewis, Eric Parker, Peerless Price, Jack “hacksaw” Reynolds, Heath Shuler, Donte’ Stallworth, Al Wilson, and Gibril Wilson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obviously you did not so your homework because Florida St would be in the top 3 if not number 1 , even in the down years FSU was putting out first round draft picks, according to an article by the NY Times about a year or two ago FSU was rated by far the best college to go to if you wanted to make the NFL ,