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Top 10 "Football Factories"

Neil WaechterCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2008

While I hate the term "Football Factory" when applied to a university, the fact remains that there are certain schools that, year-in, year-out, produce a slew of talented NFL players.

The NFL network recently aired an episode of their "Top Ten" show that counted down the top football factories. With this being the slow season, I thought I'd try to take a deeper look at their list, and see whether they were really accurate in their assessment, or whether it is just more hype.

Here is the list of teams on the NFL Network list:  

10. Tennessee  

9. MAC Conference  

8. Syracuse  

7. Penn State  

6. Alabama  

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5. Michigan  

4. Ohio State  

3. Notre Dame  

2. Miami  

1. USC  

I'm going to break this down, and try to determine which teams really do the best job of sending successful players to the NFL. I'm going to look at not just number of players drafted, but also Pro Bowlers, Superbowl MVPs, and the best players at the various positions to come up with my own list.  

First, let's break down the numbers of some perennial powerhouses in my analysis:  

Southern Cal 

Total players drafted: 450 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 43 

Superbowl MVPs: 2 - Lynn Swann (X), Marcus Allen (XVIII) 

Hall of Famers: 11 QuarterbackRunning Back: O.J. Simpson*, Reggie Bush, Marcus Allen*, Frank Gifford* Wide Receiver / Tight End: Keyshawn Johnson, Lynn Swann*, Morris (Red) Badgro* Offensive Line: Bruce Matthews*, Anthony Munoz*, Ron Yary*, Ron Mix* Defensive LineLinebacker: Lofa Tatupu, Junior Seau Defensive Secondary: Ronnie Lott*, Willie Wood*  

Notre Dame 

Total players drafted: 461 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 40 

Superbowl MVPs: 3 - Joe Montana (XVI, XIX, XXIV) 

Hall of Famers: 9 Quarterback: Joe Montana*, Joe Theismann Running Back: Paul Hornung*, John McNally*, Jerome Bettis Wide Receiver / Tight End: Dave Casper*, Tim Brown  Offensive Line: George Trafton*, Jeff Faine, Aaron Taylor Defensive Line: Alan Page*, Wayne Milner*, Chris Zorich Linebacker: George Connor*, Nick Buoniconti* Defensive Secondary:   

Miami 

Total players drafted: 293 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 53 

Superbowl MVPs: 2 - Ottis Anderson (XXV), Ray Lewis (XXXV) 

Hall of Famers: 4 Quarterback: Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly* Running Back: Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James Wide Receiver / Tight End: Michael Irvin* Offensive Line: Jim Otto* Defensive Line Linebacker: Ted Hendricks*, Ray Lewis Defensive Secondary: Sean Taylor, Ed Reed  

Ohio State 

Total players drafted: 383 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 49 

Superbowl MVPs: 0 

Hall of Famers: 5 Quarterback Running Back: Eddie George Wide Receiver / Tight End: Paul Warfield*, Dante Lavelli* Offensive Line: Jim Parker*, Lou Groza*, Bill Willis* Defensive Line Linebacker Defensive Secondary  

Michigan 

Total players drafted: 330 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 51 

Superbowl MVPs: 3 - Desmond Howard (XXXI), Tom Brady (XXXVI, XXXVIII) 

Hall of Famers: 4 Quarterback: Benny Friedman*, Tom Brady Running Back:  Wide Receiver / Tight End: Bill Hewitt* Offensive Line: Dan Dierdorf*, Tom Mack* Defensive Line:  Linebacker:  Defensive Secondary:   

Alabama 

Total players drafted: 276 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 25 

Superbowl MVPs: 3 - Bart Starr (I, II), Joe Namath (III) 

Hall of Famers: 6 Quarterback: Joe Namath*, Bart Starr*, Ken Stabler Running Back: Shaun Alexander Wide Receiver / Tight End: Don Hutson*, Ozzie Newsome* Offensive Line: Dwight Stephenson*, John Hannah* Defensive Line Linebacker: Cornelius Bennett Defensive Secondary  

Oklahoma 

Total players drafted: 334 

Current number of players on NFL rosters: 31 

Superbowl MVPs: 0.5 - Troy Aikman (XXVII) drafted out of UCLA, started college in OK 

Hall of Famers: 2 QuarterbackRunning Back: Adrian Peterson Wide Receiver / Tight End: Tommy McDonald* Offensive Line:  Defensive Line: Lee Roy Selmon* Linebacker Defensive Secondary   

After looking at the players from each team through the years, it becomes apparent that there are two schools head and shoulders above the others: USC and Notre Dame.  

Southern Cal actually edges Notre Dame on the resume recently, pouring players into the NFL in recent years, with a strong history going back to the 70s. Notre Dame's history goes back much further, but has not been as strong in recent years.  

Notre Dame, however, has the best spread of players to come out of its system. USC is heavy on the offensive skill positions, except for QB. Miami is strong in offensive and defensive skill positions, but lacks the inside linemen. Notre Dame (with the lone exception in the defensive secondary) has produced multiple standouts (often multiple HOF-ers) at each position group.  

Therefore, after close consideration, my ranking would be as follows:  

1. Southern Cal 

2. Notre Dame 

3. Miami (FL) 

4. Ohio State 

5. Michigan 

6. Alabama 

7. Oklahoma

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