by John Huffstetler
This debate regarding great collegiate teams and poor NFL teams was rekindled by Steve Spurrier's comments about Alabama possibly being favored against some unnamed NFL teams. For starters, Alabama isn't even that good this year. Last year's Bama squad would beat this year's team, and last year's squad couldn't even beat LSU at home during the regular season (or top 6 points). This year, Bama's "brutal" schedule so far includes wins over Michigan, Miss St., Tennessee, Missouri, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. One of those teams is ranked...none are that good. They avoid playing Florida, Georgia, and Spurrier's South Carolina squad out of the East this year out of shear luck. Any of these teams would have a legitimate shot to beat the Tide on a neutral field. Most years, this team isn't even the best in the country, but there simply aren't many good teams this year (that's why average Kansas St. and Notre Dame teams are in the top 5).
Beyond the fact that Alabama is assuredly overrated this year, the thought that any college team could beat an NFL team is totally ridiculous. The talent level on any of the 32 NFL teams is much higher than any college team because of the significantly greater number of college squads and the level of maturity and physical development of the players. There are players on 124 FBS teams (pictured to the right) (and some players from other divisions as well) for the NFL to choose from, and they choose the best players. The natural counter argument to this is that Alabama gets the best prospects in the country to choose from; however, the spread is still dramatic. Many players choose a school close to their hometown or because they grew up liking a team. Not every great player just blindly chooses Alabama. There are also hundreds of players every year that go under the radar and earn their way onto an NFL roster through their development and achievement at smaller schools. Here's an all-star squad of players from non-division 1-a schools:
QB- Tony Romo- Eastern Illinois (or how about Joe Flacco from Delaware if you prefer)RB- Fred Jackson- Coe CollegeFB- Mike Tolbert- Coastal CarolinaWR- Victor Cruz- UMass (Pictured to the left holding the Super Bowl trophy
Vincent Jackson- Northern Colorado
Marques Colston- Hofstra
Miles Austin- MonmouthOL- Michael Roos- Eastern Washington
Willie Colon- Hofstra
Jahri Evans- Bloomsburg
Dan Connolly- SE Missouri St.
Chris Kuper- North DakotaDE- Jared Allen- Idaho St.
Robert Mathis- Alabama A&MDT- Stephen Bowen- Hofstra
Jacques Cesaire- Southern ConnecticutLB- Akeem Jordan- James Madison
London Fletcher- John Carroll
Stephen Cooper- MaineCB- Brandon Carr- Grand Valley State (or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State if you prefer)
Cortland Finnegan- Samford (or Brent Grimes from Shippensburg if you prefer)FS- Nick Collins- Bethune-CookmanSS- Danieal Manning- Abilene ChristianK- Rob Bironas- Georgia SouthernP- Mike Scifres- Western Illinois
Alabama wouldn't even beat that team. The point is, the NFL doesn't just take players from the best schools. This is a collection of the best 32 rosters of football players in the country. This list proves that there is talent scattered throughout the country that contributes to NFL rosters at a Pro Bowl level. Not to mention the fact that every player that is drafted into the NFL becomes better as their career progresses for years. Players get smarter and stronger in their mid-to-late 20's than they were from 18-22.
To compare the talent level on one NFL team to Alabama, let's take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs and their top players, since they are one of the teams being compared to this Crimson Tide squad, with a particular focus on their stellar collegiate careers:
Kansas City Chiefs
QB- Brady Quinn- Although largely ineffective on the pro-level (because of the higher talent level in the NFL), Quinn set 36 Notre Dame records during his collegiate career. In 2005, he finished 4th in Heisman voting, while winning the Sammy Baugh trophy as the nation's top QB. In 2006, he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Maxwell Trophy as the best college football player. He also finished 3rd in Heisman voting.
RB- Jamaal Charles- As a true freshman at Texas in 2005, Charles rushed for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 7.4 yards per carry average to help Texas win the National Championship. In his Junior year (his final collegiate year), he rushed for over 1,400 yards, including a 290 yard game against Nebraska. He ranks 4th in Texas history in rush yards (despite skipping his Senior year) behind only Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, and Cedric Benson.
WR- Dwayne Bowe- Bowe started 31 games for LSU (in the precious SEC) where he recorded 154 catches, 2,403 yards, and a school-record 26 TD's. In his senior year, Bowe earned 3rd-team All-American honors and 1st-team All-SEC honors for the top-5 Tiger squad.
LB- Derrick Johnson- Johnson was one of the most dominant LB's in the country during his career at Texas. He finished his career with 281 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 9 Int's and 11 Forced Fumbles. He was a first-team Big-12 selection 3 times, first-team All-American twice, and he won the Dick Butkus award as the best linebacker in the country and the Bronco Nagurski award as the best defensive player in the country during his Senior season.
SS- Eric Berry- In his three years with Tennessee, Berry racked up 241 tackles (as a cornerback) and had 14 Ints. Considered nationally to be the best shut-down corner in the country, he earned the following accolades: 2-time First-team All-American, 3-time All-SEC, 2007 SEC Defensive Freshman of the year, 2008 Vince Dooley Award, 2008 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2008 and 2009 Jack Tatum Award winner, and 2009 Jim Thorpe Award winner.
DT- Glenn Dorsey- Although he has struggled to stay healthy and find consistency on the pro-level, Dorsey was one of the most decorated defensive tackles of all-time while at LSU. He was twice named first-team All-SEC and All-American. In 2007, he won SEC defensive player of the year, the Lombardi trophy, the Outland trophy, the Bronco Nagurski trophy, and the Lott trophy while racking up 69 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 7 sacks for the National Champion Tigers.
I could go on as Brandon Flowers (VaTech), Tamba Hali (Penn St.), Javier Arenas (Alabama), Brandon Siler (Florida), Tyson Jackson (LSU), Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss), Steve Breaston (Michigan), and Eric Winston (Miami Fl.) among others had stellar careers for major collegiate football programs. The point is that the Chiefs are LOADED with collegiate football talent. They are essentially a collegiate All-American team unto themselves. Take these collegiate resumes and match them up with the resumes of the current Bama players. It's not even a comparison. This a collection of some of the most decorated collegiate athletes in the country over the past decade...and they're now 1-7 this year. Again, because there are only 32 NFL teams compared to over a hundred college teams, and these are men...not boys.
So shut up Steve Spurrier (even though I love you) and others, and show these decorated, accomplished NFL players like the Chiefs some respect. Comparing them to a college team is not only an absolutely ridiculous argument, but it's disrespectful to these teams and players who deserve more respect than to be compared to a group of children who aren't even that good to begin with. I'm instituting a new policy: Anyone who makes the argument that Alabama could beat a pro team can legally be punched in the face without repercussions. I'm flying to South Carolina now to punch Spurrier squarely on his outrageously red cheeks.
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