Sean Pendergast

Which College Football Program is "QB U"? Answer: There Isn't One

Is C.J. Stroud's alma mater a candidate to be crowned "QB U"?
Is C.J. Stroud's alma mater a candidate to be crowned "QB U"? Screen grab from YouTube
Throughout the NFL Draft process, as all roads were leading to the Houston Texans' selecting Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, some of Stroud's skeptics would continuously (and lazily) bring up the fact that Ohio State has not really cranked out any franchise quarterbacks over the last few decades as a reason that he will ultimately fail on the NFL level. Frankly, that analysis is as infuriating as it is lazy.

I don't disagree about the truth that there has been a dearth of Ohio State bred franchise quarterbacks. The numerical facts behind this wonky "analysis" are correct. My response to those critics was, and is, though, to ask them to name me the school that IS a quarterback factory, one that has cranked out multiple franchise quarterbacks in succession. In other words, I am asking you, Stroud naysayers, which school is "QB U"?
To me, in order to have your school named "[fill in name of position here] U," it means you're developing several high level guys at that specific position over a tight, consistent period of time. Most famously, Penn State was "Linebacker U" back in the '70s and '80s because they would routinely send first round caliber linebackers to the NFL, and they would subsequently turn into good NFL players.

Honestly, when it comes to quarterbacks, almost any school can stumble into sending one franchise quarterback to the league, as you'll see momentarily. However, is there a school that has an assembly line of even TWO franchise quarterbacks from the same college football head coach, in the last 20 years? Let's examine this.

Since 2003, there have been 33 NFL quarterbacks who have started at least four seasons for their team and done AT LEAST ONE of the following:

1. Won a Super Bowl
2. Won a regular season MVP
3. Had a passer rating with that team of over 90.0
4. Had a passer rating with that team over 85.0 and made multiple postseason appearances

Some have accomplished all four of these things, obviously, but for purposes of this argument, I think achieving just one of those things sets a reasonable threshold to allow a school to say "We sent a franchise quarterback to the NFL," and four seasons is enough time to fully associate that quarterback with a specific franchise.

So let's begin allowing quarterbacks inside the velvet rope beginning with the guys who regularly started for at least four seasons and took home a Super Bowl trophy, and let's include the college they played for, so we can determine if indeed a "QB U" exists:

Brett Favre, GB — Southern Miss
Tom Brady, NE — Michigan
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — Miami, OH
Peyton Manning, IND — Tennessee
Eli Manning, NYG — Ole Miss
Drew Brees, NOLA — Purdue
Aaron Rodgers, GB — Cal
Joe Flacco, BAL — Delaware
Russell Wilson, SEA — Wisconsin
Patrick Mahomes, KC — Texas Tech

Now, here are the league MVP winners (that have yet to win a Super Bowl) that started at least four seasons with their team:

Lamar Jackson, BAL — Louisville
Cam Newton, CAR — Auburn
Matt Ryan, ATL — Boston College

I know some of you may be wondering where Kurt Warner, Super Bowl winner and former league MVP, is. Due to injuries later in his Rams tenure, he was only the regular starter for three seasons. Good news for Warner is that his time in Arizona gets him (and University of Northern Iowa!) on the board, in the 90.0 passer rating category:

RATING over 90.0 (13) (passer rating in parentheses)
Josh Allen (92.2), BUF — Wyoming
Deshaun Watson (104.5), HOU — Clemson
Matt Schaub (90.9), HOU — Virginia
Ryan Tannehill (100.5), TEN — Texas A&M
Alex Smith (94.8), KC — Utah
Derek Carr (91.8), LVG — Fresno State
Philip Rivers (95.1), LAC — NC State
Tony Romo (97.1), DAL — Eastern Illinois
Dak Prescott (97.8), DAL — Mississippi State
Kirk Cousins, MIN — Michigan State
Kurt Warner (91.9), ARZ — Northern Iowa
Jared Goff (91.5), LAR — Cal
Kyler Murray (92.5), ATL — Oklahoma

Okay, from there, let's get the last group in line for the VIP room in the door, guys with an 85.0 passer rating and multiple playoff appearances:

RATING over 85 with multiple postseason appearances (7) (passer rating, playoff appearances in parentheses)
Chad Pennington (88.9, 2) NYJ — Marshall
Carson Palmer (86.9, 2), CIN — USC
Andy Dalton (87.5 5), CIN — TCU
Andrew Luck (89.5, 3), IND — Stanford
Donovan McNabb (86.5 8), PHI — Syracuse
Carson Wentz (89.2, 3), PHI — North Dakota State
Matthew Stafford (88.9, 3), DET — Georgia

You may have already skimmed the list of schools these 33 quarterbacks attended, and tallied up the numbers. If not, here is the bottom line — those 33 quarterbacks attended 32 different colleges. The only repeat school was Cal, with Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff representing them, and those two were drafted 11 years apart!

Now, over the next few seasons, once some of the young quarterbacks in the league have completed Year 4 with their current teams, we can add at least two schools to the list of "multiple QB producers," specifically Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) and Oklahoma (Jalen Hurts). Still, that would give us just three schools for roughly 40 quarterbacks, by then.

In other words, the conclusion is clear — there is no "QB U" and C.J. Stroud's success or failure will have nothing to do with the slew of Ohio State quarterbacks that came before him.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at, on Instagram at, and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast