Saturday, July 05, 2008

Top 10 "Football Factories"

While I hate the term "Football Factory" when applied to a University, the fact remains that there are certain schools that, year-in, year-out, produce a slew of talented NFL players. The NFL network recently aired an episode of their "Top Ten" show that counted down the top football factories. With this being the slow season, I thought I'd try to take a deeper look at their list, and see whether they were really accurate in their assessment, or whether it is just more hype.

Here is the list of teams on the NFL Network list:

10. Tennessee

9. MAC Conference

8. Syracuse

7. Penn State

6. Alabama

5. Michigan

4. Ohio State

3. Notre Dame

2. Miami

1. USC

I'm going to break this down, and try to determine which teams really do the best job of sending successful players to the NFL. I'm going to look at not just number of players drafted, but also Pro Bowlers, Superbowl MVPs, and the best players at the various positions to come up with my own list.

First, let's break down the numbers of some perennial powerhouses in my analysis:

Southern Cal
Total players drafted: 450
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 43
Superbowl MVPs: 2 - Lynn Swann (X), Marcus Allen (XVIII)
Hall of Famers: 11
Running Back: O.J. Simpson*, Reggie Bush, Marcus Allen*, Frank Gifford*
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Keyshawn Johnson, Lynn Swann*, Morris (Red) Badgro*
Offensive Line: Bruce Matthews*, Anthony Munoz*, Ron Yary*, Ron Mix*
Defensive Line:
Linebacker: Lofa Tatupu, Junior Seau
Defensive Secondary: Ronnie Lott*, Willie Wood*

Notre Dame
Total players drafted: 461
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 40
Superbowl MVPs: 3 - Joe Montana (XVI, XIX, XXIV)
Hall of Famers: 9
Quarterback: Joe Montana*, Joe Theismann
Running Back: Paul Hornung*, John McNally*, Jerome Bettis
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Dave Casper*, Tim Brown
Offensive Line: George Trafton*, Jeff Faine, Aaron Taylor
Defensive Line: Alan Page*, Wayne Milner*, Chris Zorich
Linebacker: George Connor*, Nick Buoniconti*
Defensive Secondary:

Total players drafted: 293
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 53
Superbowl MVPs: 2 - Ottis Anderson (XXV), Ray Lewis (XXXV)
Hall of Famers: 4
Quarterback: Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly*
Running Back: Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Michael Irvin*
Offensive Line: Jim Otto*
Defensive Line
Linebacker: Ted Hendricks*, Ray Lewis
Defensive Secondary: Sean Taylor, Ed Reed

Ohio State
Total players drafted: 383
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 49
Superbowl MVPs: 0
Hall of Famers: 5
Running Back: Eddie George
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Paul Warfield*, Dante Lavelli*
Offensive Line: Jim Parker*, Lou Groza*, Bill Willis*
Defensive Line
Defensive Secondary

Total players drafted: 330
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 51
Superbowl MVPs: 3 - Desmond Howard (XXXI), Tom Brady (XXXVI, XXXVIII)
Hall of Famers: 4
Quarterback: Benny Friedman*, Tom Brady
Running Back:
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Bill Hewitt*
Offensive Line: Dan Dierdorf*, Tom Mack*
Defensive Line:
Defensive Secondary:

Total players drafted: 276
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 25
Superbowl MVPs: 3 - Bart Starr (I, II), Joe Namath (III)
Hall of Famers: 6
Quarterback: Joe Namath*, Bart Starr*, Ken Stabler
Running Back: Shaun Alexander
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Don Hutson*, Ozzie Newsome*
Offensive Line: Dwight Stephenson*, John Hannah*
Defensive Line
Linebacker: Cornelius Bennett
Defensive Secondary

Total players drafted: 334
Current number of players on NFL rosters: 31
Superbowl MVPs: 0.5 - Troy Aikman (XXVII) drafted out of UCLA, started college in OK
Hall of Famers: 2
Running Back: Adrian Peterson
Wide Receiver / Tight End: Tommy McDonald*
Offensive Line:
Defensive Line: Lee Roy Selmon*
Defensive Secondary

After looking at the players from each team through the years, it becomes apparent that there are two schools head and shoulders above the others: USC and Notre Dame.

Southern Cal actually edges Notre Dame on the resume recently, pouring players into the NFL in recent years, with a strong history going back to the 70s. Notre Dame's history goes back much further, but has not been as strong in recent years.

Notre Dame, however, has the best spread of players to come out of its system. USC is heavy on the offensive skill positions, except for QB. Miami is strong in offensive and defensive skill positions, but lacks the inside linemen. Notre Dame (with the lone exception in the defensive secondary) has produced multiple standouts (often multiple HOF-ers) at each position group.

Therefore, after close consideration, my ranking would be as follows:

1. Southern Cal
2. Notre Dame
3. Miami (FL)
4. Ohio State
5. Michigan
6. Alabama
7. Oklahoma