Sunday morning quarterbacking


There's nothing like publishing a ranking in January to prove that college football blood runs hot year-round.

The list of top-10 quarterbacks of the ESPN era is a one-time, one-position event, which we latched onto the Matt Leinart Watch for fun. No, there won't be top-10 holders of the ESPN era.

The several hundred readers who wrote in to comment on the list proved that it struck a nerve. It wouldn't be fair to say that every single correspondent blasted me for not putting Ken Dorsey on the list. But if it had been an election, it would have been as close as one of those that Saddam Hussein used to hold.

Nearly every letter pointed out that Dorsey lost only two starts (his first and his last) in nearly four years. Not all of the letters came from Miami fans, and not all of the Miami fans were exclusively parochial. For instance, Jon Looft of Miami sent me his top 10, which included Dorsey, Testaverde and Gino Torretta (Somehow, Mark Richt escaped his view). But Jon did add Charlie Ward of Florida State, another quarterback who didn't make the list, as well.

Other readers wrote in to question my sanity for not including their favorite. In fact, 18 different quarterbacks -- from John Elway to Tony Rice to Steve Young to Andre Ware -- received support of the "How could leave him out?" variety.

I've read the e-mails. I've studied the cases made. As regards Dorsey, the people's choice, here's my defense:

I have none.

He should be on the list.

You're right. I'm wrong.

To answer the question that usually stumps my readers -- in place of whom? -- Dorsey should replace Testaverde, at No. 9, instead of No. 10 Michael Vick.

On with the e-mails:

Here's a guy who might actually be the greatest college QB of all time and he seems to get overlooked. Don't forget that he outdueled Charlie Ward even as a sophomore in the '93 title game and led the Huskers on an absolutely improbable final drive that would have won the first of THREE straight national titles had Byron Bennett not super-shanked that 45-yd FG attempt!

Long live the Tom Osborne (not Frank Solich) option offense! Remember that it was only 7 seasons ago when the '97 Huskers, with 9 of 11 offensive starters from right here in Nebraska (recruiting hot bed of the USA), won the National Championship. And Utah used quite a bit of option football this year..... IT STILL HAS IT'S PLACE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!

Thanks again Ivan!
Brian Hayes
Lincoln, NE
(you could have guessed)

I applaud your choice of Tommie Frazier as your top college quarterback. His most significant statistic was that he played in three straight National Championship games and was voted MVP in all three, even in the loss to Florida State in 1993. In my mind, this makes him the best "big-game" quarterback in NCAA history.

Larry Brown

Plenty of nostalgic Huskers wrote me in appreciation of naming Frazier at the top of the quarterback list. Brian's defense of the option won me over, which may just be another indication of middle age. I especially liked the letter from the reader who had never heard of Jamelle Holieway.

I sound like I'm about to write and perform a one-man play: Steadman Shealy: Champion.

Put on your overcoats and work pants. The complimentary letters were in the minority. Here come the rotten tomatoes.

I hate it when readers rant like lunatics, so I'm trying to behave but your
Top 10 QBs of the ESPN era listis making that a bit difficult because, OH MY
GOD!! Sorry, that slipped out. How could you not include Ken Dorsey? WHAT
ARE YOU, AN IDIOT!? Geez, my apologies. I'm sure I don't have to run down
Dorsey's stats but suffice by your own criteria -- team performance, more
years the better -- Dorsey should be included. Other than that love your
work. YOU SUCK. Sorry.

Jason Schneider

Thank you, Jason. It's inspiring to hear from someone with online Tourette's Syndrome.

Dear Mr. Maisel,

I couldn't disagree more with today's listing and ranking of your 10 best college quarterbacks. You are probably the only person alive who would pick Tommie Frazier, who, while a terrific player, simply doesn't deserve to be No. 1. It is almost as if you are selecting because of how, not what, they did. Given that scoring, Leinart is at least tied for first, as he has guided the Trojans to two consecutive national championships (yes, last year counts). Also given that scoring methodology, you would have to include (Michael) Vick pretty near the top, given his athletic ability. A national championship is a national championship is a national championship. I think that trumps almost all, therefore Leinart is not eighth, but first or second.

All moot however, as he is coming back and will do it again, so he will earn No. 1 regardless of who is selecting.

Warren Berger
Woodinville, WA

I didn't even go to Florida St and I hate the Seminoles, but you cannot deny that Charlie Ward was as special a College QB as there was in the last 20 years. With one Heisman and one national championship, he certainly belongs on your list.

Mark Pesapane
Hoboken, N.J.

Ward was one of the last guys I eliminated, because he only started two years. Vick only started two years, and he made the list. But given their respective supporting casts, Vick accomplished more.

Ivan, I enjoy reading your work on espn.com, you do a great job.

In reading through your list of top-10 quarterbacks of ESPN era, I agree with most of your selections but to say that Chris Weinke is the second best college QB of the last 25-plus years is absolutely ludicrous.

Eric Brown
San Diego

Thanks, I think.

Others complained about Weinke: his age, his failure to beat Miami and Oklahoma as a senior. I didn't care about Weinke's age then, and I still don't think it's an issue. The guy made it to two national championship games, won one and won a Heisman. You can argue that he shouldn't have been second. You can argue that he shouldn't have been in the top 10. And you have.

Peyton Manning screwed?

You wrote, "I wasn't working for ESPN in 1997, but the voters screwed Peyton Manning over, not the network."

Well, let me give you an example. ABC was covering the Ohio State/Michigan game in 1997, and as they went to the half the following was the soundbyte of John Saunders:
"Charles Woodson is dominating, and Peyton Manning is struggling!"

Peyton threw for 520-plus yards and five touchdowns that day against Kentucky.

That is media bias, my friend.

Jon Powers

My point, Jon, is that the voters weren't listening to John Saunders. They were out covering games. And if they were listening to Saunders, and failed to take into account Manning's final stats, then they shouldn't be allowed to cross the street without a Boy Scout.

You rock and all that. Now, on to serious stuff.

There was a team a few years ago that had a darn good defense, a favorable Big Ten schedule and not much else. They weren't given much of a chance, but swept the field and beat the favorite to become number one. With me?

This coming year, the same team has a favorable schedule (first five at home, no Wisconsin, Purdue), a great defense and could go all the way. But there's one difference: a September 10th date with Texas in the 'shoe. What is your take on the Buckeyes' chances -- given no further sanctions -- in 2005? Can I convince you to have another dark horse on '05?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Mike Myers

You couldn't be more wrong, Mike. Ohio State is no dark horse next fall. The Bucks are the favorite. This season went remarkably like 2001.
Now, if you want a dark horse, look east to State College.

My name is Clark Evans, and I just have a couple of questions regarding
your latest column about early depatures for college football teams. No
mention of Florida State anywhere? They lost no one to the pros this year, meaning
players like Leon Washington, Pat Watkins, and A.J. Nicholson will be back
for another year. That's certainly better than some of the schools listed
on the "hurt the least" list, particularly considering some of their
graduation losses as well. Further, you mention DeAngelo Williams and
DonTrell Moore as being atop the "otherwise thin class of senior backs
next fall" -- no mention of Leon Washington? He has carried the FSU
offense at times and certainly deserves to be mentioned at least with
those other backs -- if not ahead of them, just from his production and
status as the leader of the FSU offense next year.

Clark Evans

Good point on the 'Noles, and no slight is intended to Washington, or Cory Ross of Nebraska or Jerious Norwood of Mississippi State or (your favorite junior's name here). Williams and Moore have been more productive throughout their careers than has Washington. On the other hand, neither one of them rushed for 195 yards on 12 -- 12! -- carries in a bowl game.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at ivan.maisel@espn3.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.