ASK CFN - The Most Ineffective QB Ever?

Posted Dec 21, 2006

Was Georgia Tech's Reggie Ball the most ineffective big-time, four-year quarterback ever? Could Oklahoma have gone to the national title had it beaten Oregon? This and much more in the latest ASK CFN.

Pete Fiutak

Fire over your questions to me at pete@collegefootballnews.com. I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...  
A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

What if the officials hadn’t screwed up in Eugene and Oklahoma won that game with Oregon? Everyone seemed to ignore the national title implications at the time, but wouldn’t the Sooners, and not the Gators, be playing Ohio State for the championship if the calls went the right way? – BP

A: That’ll be a message board debate for a long, long time, but I don’t think OU would’ve been in Glendale for three reasons. 1) Florida is probably more deserving. Everyone acknowledges the SEC was the best conference in the country this year, and Florida had the toughest schedule in the nation, so when picking between the Sooners or the Gators, most voters would’ve picked Florida. 2) Oklahoma lost to Texas handily (and with Adrian Peterson), Ohio State beat Texas with ease in Austin. By the transitive theory of college football, why should Oklahoma get to play Ohio State? At least that’s what the argument might be. 3) Past sins. Voters are a fickle lot, and while they’re supposed to take every season on its own merits, the stinker the Sooners came up with in the 2005 Orange Bowl and the loss in the 2004 Sugar Bowl are still fresh in everyone’s minds.

However, what OU being 12-1 would’ve done is possibly split the Gator-Sooner vote a little bit and might’ve pushed Michigan into the final number two BCS spot. Also, don’t dismiss how the Oregon loss might have helped the Sooners. It seems to galvanize the team with an Us vs. Them mentality that worked wonders over the second half of the year.

In light of the news for GT fans about the bowl game, have we seen the last of one of the worst QBs ever? Although my age (18) and me growing up in ACC country has influenced my decision, I think Reggie Ball is the worst quarterback I've personally ever seen, especially for someone who's started for that long. Statistically, his completion % has dropped each year until it bottomed out at around 44% this season. Who do you think are the worst quarterbacks that college football has ever seen? - MA

A: Great minds think alike; I was thinking the exact same thing the second Ball was declared ineligible. I'm going to enlist the help of the readers on this one, and I'll publish any good nominees next week, after doing some quick research, checking around, and going deep into the memory bank to come up with a quarterback who 1) was a four-year starter playing at least 40 career games (Ball played 49),. 2) completed fewer than half of his passes (Ball completed 48.5), 3) had a near even touchdown to interception ratio (Ball threw 57 touchdown passes and 55 interceptions), and 4) wasn't purely a runner (like some of the old option quarterbacks).

I don't want to dog a guy when he's down, but considering the way Ball ended his career completing 15 of 51 passes for 171 yards with four interceptions in key games against Georgia and Wake Forest, to finish by being academically ineligible has made things even worse. I couldn't come up with anyone who was even remotely close to being as ineffective on such a big scale.

Since you are looking at irrelevant historic trends how about this one about BCS championship games: 2000: Florida State loses to Oklahoma - Heisman: Weinke
2001: Nebraska loses to Miami - Heisman: Crouch
2003: Oklahoma loses to LSU - Heisman: White
2004: Oklahoma loses to USC - Heisman: White, Leinart
(cancels out)
2005: USC loses to Texas - Heisman: Leinart, Bush
– CL

A: 2004 isn’t a “cancel out” since Leinart won the Heisman and won the title. I know what you’re getting at, and the Heisman winners haven’t always done well in national title games, but Danny Wuerffel won the Heisman and the national title in 1996. Crouch shouldn’t have won the Heisman in 2001; that Husker team was way overmatched against Miami. It’s not like the other games were blowouts. Most of the time, teams rely on their Heisman winners too much, while the opposing team spends several weeks focusing on stopping one guy. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s really something to what you’re getting at if the Buckeyes lose.

One thing that caught my attention this past weekend in college football was the repeat champions in Divisions I-AA, II, and III.  Appalachian State, Grand Valley State, and Mount Union all won back-to-back titles this year.  Mount Union and Grand Valley State have both developed into dynasty-type programs in their respective divisions.  With all the talk about adopting a playoff in Division I-A, I can’t help but wonder if we would see a similar trend at the top level that we see in the others.  Many claim that a playoff would give other schools a chance to play for the title, but maybe it would do quite the opposite. Do you think the dynasty-effect that exists in the lower divisions of college football would take hold of Division I-A if it were to go to a playoff?  Or are these repeat champions a product of something else? – Eric

A: As opposed to the dynasty effect that’s in place now? As my NFL loving, college hating friends like to rip, who’s good this year? Ohio State, Florida, USC, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, and other usual suspects. Who was good 15 years ago, and who’ll be good ten years from now? Ohio State, Florida, USC, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and other usual suspects. This much is certain; right now, about 90 teams start every season with almost no reasonable shot of playing for the national title no matter what happens. Whether you’re for a playoff or not, at least in most scenarios, some of the little guys would have some sliver of hope where there isn’t any now.

Obviously it is too soon to really start speculating, but do you see Jim Harbaugh as a candidate to replace Lloyd Carr at Michigan when he eventually retires?
– KH

A: Just like everyone wanted to see Steve Alford become the main man at Indiana, Michigan fans are going to be all over Harbaugh if he has any success at Stanford. Let’s wait a little bit before kicking out Carr, like you suggested, and let’s also wait to see if old No. 4 can handle himself at the never level. The Michigan job, whenever it opens up, will be one of the premier gigs in all of coaching, college or pro. There’ll be a who’s who of candidates fighting for the job. This won’t be Alabama; the big boys will be lining up.

Why is Notre Dame in the Big East in every sport except for football? I am a firm believer in ND being WAY over-rated, but it would give the Big East some legitimacy if ND was to bring its football program over. Any idea why the Big East doesn't either try to force the football program in or force its basketball, baseball and other sports out if it doesn't? – Eric

A: If the Big East tried to force the issue, Notre Dame would simply say, “uh, O.K.,” and move on. The Irish has about $9 million reasons from NBC, and roughly $14 to $17 million reasons from the BCS, to stay independent. The money aspect is too sticky and too tough to overcome for the Big East or the Big Ten to get the Irish to join since Notre Dame won’t want to give up any of the coin, and the conferences would want an even split. As it stands now, Notre Dame is in the BCS almost every year as long as it doesn’t suck, makes money hand over fist, and has its own TV network deal. What possible reason would it have to join anyone?


Am I the only person who finds it ironic that Houston Nutt couldn't understand why Damien Williams would want to transfer after a 10-3 season because the offense wasn't going the direction he wanted when Nutt himself transferred from Arkansas to Oklahoma State after an 11-1 season because Lou Holtz's offense didn't suite Nutt's abilities as a quarterback? - Doug B.

A: Recruiting isn’t always a pretty business. It’s the job of the coach and the recruiting staff to do whatever it takes, within NCAA rules, of course, (wink, wink), to get as many talented players into the school as possible. “You’ll have a chance to compete for a starting job right away.” “We’ll tailor the offense around you.” I’m not saying Nutt did that with Williams, but in today’s day and age of recruiting overhype, the kids who think they’re the be-all-end-all don’t like sitting around for one second more than they have to. Remember on signing day when Mitch Mustain said he was absolutely going to redshirt? Yeah, right.

Part of the coach’s job is to make sure all the guys on the bench stay happy even when they’re sitting, and part of it is to know your talent. If you have a great offensive line and superior running backs, you run the ball. If you have a veteran, quarterback with NFL potential and phenomenal receivers, you throw the ball. The better coaches adjust and adapt to the best players, and not vice versa.

Hello i wanted to know  what is NIU tailback Garrett Wolfe chances of making it to the NFL.
– DC

A: He’ll definitely get drafted, most likely on the first day, and will be seen as sort of a Warrick Dunn back to do a little of everything. While small, he’s one of the strongest pound-for-pound running backs in the country with tremendous speed, good receiving skills, and the potential to be a decent kick returner. No one will give him the ball 30 times a game, but he’ll be the type of weapon every offensive coordinator will want to have.

Is this the Golden Age of College Football?  It seems there are more impact players spread across the country than ever before.  USC, Michigan, ND and Ohio State are humming.  The SEC will be even stronger next year and the Florida ACC schools can’t be that bad again.  Next year could possibly be even better than ’05.  Will we be telling our grandkids we saw the height of College Football with the beginning of the USC run to the foreseeable future? – KJ

A: Way back in the day before the NFL was around, before television, and before ESPN, websites, etc., college football was on an even field with baseball and boxing as America’s passion, and was a bit bigger than it is now, but there were only a few huge teams like Notre Dame and Army. While there are more sports and more distractions now, the overall product is better with so much excitement year in and year out, so many good players, and better overall coverage of the game. 25 years ago, recruiting was even more of an inexact science than the crapshoot it currently is meaning the game has become more specialized. You’d never have seen more than one or two games a week, and now you can watch several games and have several different options on any given Saturday. You can watch the Pac 10 if you live in New York and you can see every Florida game if you live in Oregon. With the better coverage comes more hype, more scrutiny, and with the smaller scholarships available, a better dispersion of talent across the country.