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When the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks take the field in Glendale, Ariz., for what sounds destined to be a Super Bowl matchup for the ages, alumni of Big Ten conference schools will be proud to know that their alma maters are responsible for putting far more on the field than the two respective, arguably elite, quarterbacks. I say “arguably” because naturally, it depends on whom you’re speaking with.
Of course, Tom Brady went to Michigan and Russell Wilson attended Wisconsin after transferring from N.C. State. Both players, despite not being highly touted draft day selections, now resonate in most conversations as among the best to stand under center on Sundays. Common logic says they’re the guys who will have the most impact on this year’s bout for the Lombardi Trophy, and the early MVP odds have noted it. But, would you believe that alongside Wilson and Brady on Feb. 1, there will also be 25 other players on the field and sidelines who hail from Big Ten schools?
That’s right. Boasting 27 players, the Big Ten will have more alumni in this year’s Super Bowl than any other conference in college football. It’s certainly worth noting that Wisconsin will have the most players of any school taking the field.
Per CBS Sports, the list is as follows:
Iowa: Tony Moeaki (Seattle), James Morris* (New England).
Illinois: Michael Hoomanawanui, Tavon Wilson, Michael Buchanan* (New England).
Maryland: Joe Vellano (New England).
Michigan: Stephen Schilling* (Seattle); Tom Brady, Alan Branch, Cameron Gordon* (New England).
Nebraska: Alfonzo Dennard* (New England).
Ohio State: Nate Ebner (New England).
Penn State: Garry Gilliam, Jordan Hill* (Seattle).
Purdue: Cliff Avril (Seattle); Rob Ninkovich, Greg Orton* (New England).
Rutgers: Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, Tim Wright (New England).
Wisconsin: O’Brien Schofield, Russell Wilson, David Gilreath*, Mike Taylor* (Seattle); Jonathan Casillas, James White (New England).
Noticeably absent from the list, surprisingly, is Michigan State. Unsurprisingly not represented, however, are Northwestern, Minnesota, and Indiana — their football programs are all past the point of sucking.
Is it surprising that so many players would hail from the Big Ten as opposed to the traditional power conferences? Sure, just as much as a #4 Ohio State team winning the national title with back-to-back 42-point performances against two teams that critics thought the Buckeyes wouldn’t stand a chance against in Alabama and Oregon.
I’ll be honest, the Big Ten’s list is a mildly impressive crop, quarterbacks aside, especially considering the asterisk denotes that a player is listed on IR right now. So, the adjusted number of Big Ten players who may actually see the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium is actually 18. Whatever, though, I’ll argue any day that Brady and Wilson account for more than one man, and the Seahawks wouldn’t even be in the game if it wasn’t for Garry Gilliam catching that touchdown off a fake field goal call for Seattle’s first score in the NFC title game, so that’s something.
Nevertheless, it definitely says something about the Big Ten to know this many players have matriculated to NFL conference champion teams, and that this year’s world champion quarterback will have come from the Big Ten (barring any hideous injury, which I hope not to see).
There’s no doubt that Brady or Wilson will need a strong showing from their supporting casts to make another Super Bowl victory happen. Those supporting casts come heavily in the form of SEC and Pac-12 graduates.
Behind the Big Ten, the Pac-12 has 25 alumni combined between the two teams, and it won’t be surprising if these players account for every touchdown scored in the game.
Arizona: Rob Gronkowski (New England).
Arizona State: Zach Miller* (Seattle).
Cal: Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Mebane* (Seattle), Shane Vereen (New England).
UCLA: Derrick Coleman*, Cassius Marsh* (Seattle); Akeem Ayers, Matthew Slater (New England).
Colorado: Paul Richardson* (Seattle), Nate Solder (New England).
Oregon: Will Tukuafu, Max Unger (Seattle); LeGarette Blount, Patrick Chung (New England).
Oregon State: Brandon Browner (New England).
USC: Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith, Anthony McCoy* (Seattle).
Stanford: Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman (Seattle); Cameron Fleming, Tyler Gaffney* (New England).
Utah: Sealver Siliga (New England).
Washington: Jermaine Kearse (Seattle).
Sincerely, I don’t think there’s one man on the above list that I would not want to have on my team. Well, except anybody riding the pine on IR. Injuries aside, the Pac-12 has proven in the last several years that it can turn out elite players just like the rest of them. The aforementioned players and their accomplishments — soon to be bolstered — only speak to that.
While the SEC didn’t reign supreme in this year’s NCAA playoffs as many predicted, quite a few of its former students will have a shot at redemption in the form of raising the Lombardi this year. Trailing slightly behind the Pac-12, the SEC has 22 players combined on the Patriots and Seahawks rosters.
Alabama: James Carpenter, Kevin Norwood, Jesse Williams* (Seattle); Dont’a Hightower (New England).
Arkansas: Alvin Bailey (Seattle).
Florida: Dominique Easley* (New England).
Georgia: Demarcus Dobbs (Seattle).
Kentucky: Chris Matthews (Seattle).
LSU: Tharold Simon (Seattle); Brandon LaFell, Stevan Ridley* (New England).
Ole Miss: Brandon Bolden (New England).
Mississippi State: K.J. Wright (Seattle), Chris White (New England).
Missouri: Justin Britt (Seattle).
South Carolina: Lemuel Jeanpierre (Seattle).
Tennessee: Tony McDaniel (Seattle), Jerod Mayo* (New England).
Texas A&M: Michael Bennett, Patrick Lewis, Christine Michael, Steven Terrell (Seattle).
Not quite the talent level of the Big Ten or the Pac-12, but that’s why there’s a draft every year, eh fellas? Also, the ACC and the Big 12 bring only 12 and nine players, respectively, to the game, so they can suck it and get back to the practice fields already..
[via CBS Sports]
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