More than a decade ago, Vince Young and Matt Leinart affirmed the narrative that the NFL has been pushing and reinforcing for nearly 30 years: the most important factor to winning in football resides in the player you have taking the snaps under center.
Leinart led USC to the 2004 FBS national championship. Young led Texas to the national title the following year. Over the last 15 seasons, there’s been elite quarterback performances on the way to national championship wins — Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010, Florida State’s Jameis Winston in 2013, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence last season — but by and large, college style quarterbacks have dominated the college game.
Meanwhile, quarterbacks like Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Cal’s Jared Goff and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield have been the No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft despite not tasting national championship success in college.
Tom Brady has carved out a niche as the greatest quarterback of all time after leading the New England six Super Bowl titles over the last two decades. Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and even Nick Foles have played crucial roles in leading their teams to Super Bowl titles.
But there’s also Super Bowl-winning signal callers like Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer or Joe Flacco or even Peyton Manning in his second iteration that rode stacked rosters to championship glory.
In the FCS, Eastern Washington gunslingers like Vernon Adams and Gage Gubrud have piled up gaudy stats. Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo and Sam Houston State’s Jeremiah Brisco have used prolific seasons to win the Walter Payton Award. But North Dakota State’s steady signal callers like Brock Jensen, Carson Wentz and Easton Stick have helped the Bison dominate the division this decade.
When it comes to quarterback philosophies at Montana and Montana State, UM head coach Bobby Hauck and Montana State head coach Jeff Choate have different ideas. And the irony is Hauck, a hard-nosed, detail-oriented coach who won more than 80 percent of his games in his first tenure with the Griz, has the more proven quarterback in the fiercest rivalry in the West…even if he thinks it’s not a necessity.