Proven or Unproven? That Is the Question Circling the Pac-10 Quarterbacks

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIJuly 7, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25: Quarterback Aaron Corp #15 of the USC Trojans looks on during the spring game on April 25, 2009 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  The cardinal team won 16-10.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

The 2009 chapter of college football will be a delight as always. Programs up and down the coast will be breaking in new head coaches, hope for a brighter tomorrow, and in the Pac-10, some fresh blood at the quarterback position.

The first of a 10-part series in analyzing the Pac-10 quarterbacks:

The reigning seven-time Pacific 10 conference champions, USC will usher in a new QB this season. The Trojans have had no trouble with this issue in the past. Carson Palmer left following an Orange Bowl victory over Iowa, and the speculation was, “Could Matt Leinart perform as well as Palmer, a Heisman winner?”  

Matt Leinart might have had the better overall career, partly to Norm Chow running the offense for Pete Carroll for all of Leinart’s years in L.A. Palmer had the luxury of working with Chow for only a single season, his Heisman season. Number 11 at USC has since been retired, just like Palmer’s No. 3 after his senior season.

Since Leinart left Los Angeles, all the talk around town was about the Booty. John David Booty succeeded Leinart at QB and kept the tradition in the “Land of Troy” alive, winning two Rose Bowls and two Pac-10 titles. His Rose Bowl victims were Michigan and Illinois following the 2006 and 2007 seasons.  

Next in line: Mark Sanchez. The Mission Viejo product was all that the Trojans could ask for and more. Pete Carroll and Trojan Nation were calling for one more year. Instead, Sanchez took his West Coast brand of football to the Big Apple and the New York Jets.

Now the question is who will take the reigns of “Traveler” this season? Aaron Corp, the Orange Lutheran product has performed well during the spring and received the “nod” from Pete Carroll in late April that he was the guy. But when times get tough, will Corp be looking over his shoulder at talented Freshman Matt Barkley from Santa Ana, CA Mater Dei H.S.—the same school that produced Matt Leinart.

Barkley enrolled early at USC and showed some bright spots in the spring to give Corp some solid competition along with Arkansas transfer, Mitch Mustain.

Barkley, started since the day he stepped onto the Mater Dei campus. California coaching legend Bruce Rollinson tabbed him as his guy to don the red and white for the Monarchs from Day One. Talk about security at the quarterback position.

However, Barkley never won the big game during high school. The freshman sensation also lost thirteen games during his career with zero PAC-5 Division Championships (Southern California’s elite division).

If times get tough in L.A., the Trojans have the offensive line continuity, the running back corps including flashy tailback Joe McKnight, and big-threat wide receivers to help out the former High School All-Americans that Carroll can put under center.

For now, Aaron Corp will be the opening day starter versus San Jose State and Dick Tomey. Let us check back to this after the Trojans take on Ohio State on Sept. 12 at the Horseshoe.