USC was dubbed the No. 1 “Quarterback U” in an ESPN article published on Monday by sportswriter Brock Huard.
Sportswriters use the unofficial title to label a university for its propensity to develop high quality quarterbacks that find success in the National Football League.
ESPN placed USC at the top of the list for several reasons, including having the No. 2 media market in the country, an ideal climate to train year-round, an $85-million football facility, a staff well-versed in the NFL atmosphere and an offense that prominently features the quarterback position.
The article cited Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, along with Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez and senior Matt Barkley, as examples of USC’s capacity to produce NFL-level quarterbacks in the last decade.
Palmer was drafted No. 1 overall in 2003, Leinart was drafted No. 10 overall in 2006 and Sanchez was drafted No. 5 overall in 2009.
Palmer, Cassel and Sanchez are currently the starting quarterbacks for their respective NFL teams, while Leinart saw brief starting stints in Arizona and Houston but has suffered three season-ending injuries in his career.
Barkley is considered the favorite for the Heisman Trophy award next season and a frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
The article also called USC coach Lane Kiffin the John Calipari of college football, referring to the University of Kentucky basketball coach known for his ability to recruit young talent and prepare them for the professional level.
Behind USC, Huard ranks Alabama, Stanford, Missouri and Washington as four other teams worthy of the “Quarterback U” title.
The name “Quarterback U” deviates from USC’s original nickname, “Tailback U,” which emerged in the 1960s when USC produced Heisman Trophy-winning- tailbacks Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson.
Tailbacks Charles White and Marcus Allen would follow as two more Heisman winners in 1979 and 1981, respectively.
Since then, USC has only produced one Heisman-winning running back in Reggie Bush, who voluntarily forfeited the award after an NCAA investigation ruled that he was ineligible to participate as a student-athlete at USC.