Debate: Who was greatest QB in college football history?


Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr says his brother, David, is the best college QB of all time. Who gets your vote for greatest QB in college football history?

  • Gil Brandt
  • So difficult to say who's best ever

The entire Carr family has been a friend of mine for many years. I respect David Carr as a player, and had him ranked as the first choice in the 2002 NFL Draft, which he was. However, I do think that there were other quarterbacks at the college level who were equally as good as Carr, who won some big games for Fresno State during his time there.

It is very hard to say who is the best, because what criteria are you judging it on? Is it based on win-less records? Where the QB was drafted? Does production in college, NFL or both factor in? Peyton Manning was an exceptional quarterback at Tennesssee, but he couldn't beat Florida. Go back further and Jimmy Harris never lost a game at Oklahoma, but he was a running quarterback and not a pocket passer like Manning. Roger Staubach won at the Naval Academy with less talented players than some of the teams that they beat. The list of great college quarterbacks goes on and on and on.

A better argument can be made for Tim Tebow than anyone else. He won a pair of national championships at UF, and although Chris Leak was the primary quarterback for the first of those, Tebow's role as a freshman in 2006 wasn't insignificant. He also stayed at UF for four years (how many quarterbacks in this conversation can say that?), which gave him another year to impact the program. He finished his Florida career with 88 touchdown passes and another 57 rushing touchdowns.

  • Lance Zierlein
  • Frazier lifted Cornhuskers to such great heights

This question has come up in just about every sports bar imaginable, but I feel like too often a quarterback's NFL career (or lack thereof) is brought into the debate. In a great college quarterback, I'm looking for wins, stats that lead to wins, leadership and play-making ability. I want a quarterback who would have been hard, if not impossible, to replace with other quarterbacks from that season or surrounding seasons.

I'm going with Tommie Frazier and his 1992-1995 Nebraska run. Frazier was part of an option attack, but never rushed for more than 704 yards and was hardly prolific as a passer, but he scored touchdowns, helped the offensive churn up big yards and points, and was one of the best leaders college football has seen. His clutch performance in the 1994 Orange Bowl followed by the undefeated, Heisman season in 1995 was what locked it down for me.

  • Charles Davis
  • Elway was excellent even before reaching NFL

I love brotherly pride! David Carr was indeed a marvelous college QB, but he might not have even been the best one in his family, as Derek Carr had a tremendous college career, too. As for the best in Fresno State history, don't forget that Trent Dilfer played there, as well.

But, I digress. The greatest QB in college football history? He will not get his due because his team's never won anything big, not a conference title, and never qualified for a bowl game, but John Elway was indeed something special on the collegiate level while at Stanford. Forget the numbers (which were considerable). Watch the tape, and watch the throws, the athleticism, the structured and unstructured plays that he made that gave some pretty average teams a chance. And, not a bad NFL career, either, huh?

Honorable mention for me? The black quarterbacks who never got the chance to compete on the top collegiate level, men like Eldridge "The Lord's Prayer" Dickey and James "Shack" Harris. They blazed the trail for MY all-time favorite QB, the first black starting QB in the SEC, Condredge "The Artful Dodger" Holloway. He made history ... and he made PLAYS.

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