Good at Producing Pros, Bad at Winning Games

By DJ Byrnes on October 3, 2013 at 1:47p
Quiet Football Factories

From the WSJ:

A huge number of NFL starters hail from traditional powers like Alabama, Georgia and Southern California. But several schools have mysteriously, and steadily, produced a gaggle of pros despite struggling on the field themselves.

No school exemplifies this more than Illinois. There are 11 former Fighting Illini currently starting in the NFL, yet the school has averaged 4.1 wins a season for the past 10 years.

There are other programs with a lopsided ratio of win totals to alumni starting on Sundays. Ole Miss is typically an SEC doormat, but it has produced 10 starters, including Giants quarterback Eli Manning and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. And Virginia produced 10 current NFL starters, more than Notre Dame and Michigan.

Somewhere in the distance, Ron Zook takes a hit of his corncob tobacco pipe and nods wistfully.


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Goalscorer9's picture

I would have guessed UNC would be on this list.  Cool info!

NoVA Buckeye's picture

I think UNC has averaged 7 wins over the past 10 years, erasing their eligibility on this list.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I'm curious how many of the 11 starters played in the 2008 Rose Bowl-  the year Juice Williams made me sad in the shoe.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Hovenaut's picture

(Engage sarcastic font)

Stop helping Tim Beckman recruit.

(Actually, belay my last.....he could use it)

bodast67's picture

HOVENAUT, if i didn't already know you were a Navy veteran, i definitely know after that last comment....haven't heard "belay my last" in 20 years ! 




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

ToledoBuckeye's picture

Belay my last......hahahha....That takes me back.  Next I will be hearing, "Sweepers, sweepers man your brooms." or "Reveille reveille all hands heave out and trice up!"  Ding Ding Ding Ding.....ToledoBuckeye Departing!

"Anything easy ain't worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

Run_Fido_Run's picture

It could be a coincidence, but there appears to be somewhat of a disproportionate Mid-Atlantic "footprint" with this list.
Obviously, UVA, NC State, and Maryland are in the mid-Atlantic and others mentioned that they expected to see UNC up there, too.
It also wouldn't surprise me if several of Syracuse's and ILL's NFL products were from the mid-Atlantic. When ILL's recruiting was rolling for a few years under Zook/Locksley, it seemed like several of their top recruits came out of DC/Tidewater.
If there's something to this, it might give credence to local/regional "theories" in the Mid-Atlantic that the raw talent is top-notch but that the talent development at the high school level is sub-par. Football folks in the area like to tell stories about kids who play DE in h.s. at 6'3 and 190 lbs without ever lifting weights or getting on a suitable eating plan. Kids from the DC/Md area that played both bball and fball talk about how bad some of their football "facilities" were in h.s., while during the summers they toured nice arenas across the country playing AAU bball, and played in front of 7,000 fans during school bball season. 
Just food for thought . . .

unholy bucknut's picture

Those are some interesting numbers. Doesn't make much sense.

Knarcisi's picture

Have said for years that the level of play at Illinois is inexcusable. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

BrewstersMillions's picture

The state of Illinois is a quiet little factory. U of I doesn't do a great job of keeping talent at home. A large part of Kirk Ferentz' inexplicably large bank account was obtained largely because of Illinois players who opted to go west. The Chicago land suburbs and East St. Louis areas are pretty ripe with talent each year. By no means should they  be mistaken for Ohio or Texas or Florida but they are comfortably residing in that second tier of high school talent. As such, it doesn't shock me that U of I puts out a few pros.