Big Ten's Best: QBs 2000-2010

On Tuesday night, “The Big Ten’s Best: Quarterbacks of the 2000s” debuted on BTN. The Big Ten, the conference that created the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust philosophy, isn’t best known for its quarterbacks. Still, the Big Ten has had more than its share of impressive quarterbacks, and the 2000s was no exception. During the most recent decade, the Big Ten produced a pair of Heisman winners (Troy Smith and the “adopted” Eric Crouch), a national champion (Craig Krenzel) and a trio of national runners-up (Smith, Crouch, Todd Boeckman).

And let’s not forget about Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El, perhaps the conference’s most impressive statistical quarterback. Randle El did it all for the Hoosiers, becoming the first player in FBS history to pass and rush for 40 career touchdowns and to record 2,500 total yards in four consecutive years. See BTN’s top 10 quarterbacks of the 2000s below:


Won the 2006 Heisman Trophy

Compiled 6,888 total yards, 68 total TD

Won 2006 Fiesta Bowl MVP, after leading Ohio State to a 34-20 win over Notre Dame

Compiled 1,151 yards of total offense, two rushing touchdowns, and seven passing touchdowns in three games against Michigan

Went 3-0 against Michigan, becoming the second Buckeye to card three wins over the Wolverines but the first to win three straight


Won the 2001 Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award and Walter Camp Award

Compiled 7,915 total yards, 90 total TD, 2001 Heisman Trophy winner

Won 2000 Fiesta Bowl MVP

One of three quarterbacks in Division 1-A history to rush for 3,000 and pass for 4,000 yards in a career

Holds Nebraska record for total offense (7,915 yards) and touchdowns (88)

Owns NCAA record for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (59)

Tied an NCAA record by scoring a TD via run, pass, reception in the same game (Cal, 1999)


1998 Big Ten Freshman of the Year; 2001 Offensive Player of the Year

Big Ten’s all-time leading rusher at the quarterback (3,895)

First player in NCAA Division I history to pass for 40 career touchdowns and score 40 career rushing touchdowns

First player in college football history to record 2,500 total yards for four consecutive years

Broke the NCAA freshman total offense record in his first game, with 467 total yards in 1998 opener

Won the 2001 Chicago Tribune Silver Football, presented by the Chicago Tribune to the Most Valuable Player of the conference

Led Indiana to a 14-7 victory over Iowa as a freshman, marking the first time a Big Ten team beat an opponent the year after losing to it by more than 60 points


1999 Big Ten Freshman of the Year

Finished career with a 30-12 record as a starter

Second in Badger history with 7,394 yards of total offense and 64 TD

Second QB in Big Ten history to start in three bowl wins

As a redshirt freshman, guided Wisconsin to its second straight Rose Bowl victory

Holds school’s rushing record for quarterbacks, with 1,767 yards and 26 touchdowns.


Threw for 9,715 yards, good enough for fifth in Big Ten history

Tossed 87 touchdowns, second in conference history

Michigan’s second true freshman to start season opener (Rick Leach, 1975)

Tied the Michigan record for touchdown passes in a season (25) as a freshman

Won the 2008 Capital One Bowl MVP after leading Michigan beat Florida and reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow


Led Ohio State to a 24-3 career record, including the 2002 national title

Won two Fiesta Bowl MVP trophies

In 2001, led Ohio State to its first victory in Ann Arbor since 1987


Ranks third in program history with over 9,337 passing yards and 63 touchdown passes.

Purdue’s only quarterback to start four consecutive bowl games

Along with Drew Brees, holds the Purdue record for most passing yards in a game (522)


2005 Big Ten Player of the Year

Holds school record in passing yards (10,580) and total offense (11,576, good enough for second in Big Ten history

Finished four rushing yards short of ending career  as the only players with 10,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards

Northwestern’s all-time winningest quarterback, with 22 wins


Finished his career ranked fifth in Big Ten history with 10,594 yards of total offense

Led Illinois to its first win over a No. 1 team since 1956 in a 2007 upset at top-ranked Ohio State

Led Illinois to the 2008 Rose Bowl, the Illini’s first trip to Pasadena since  1984

Threw for 451 yards and 5 TDs in a season-opening loss to Missouri  in 2008

Amassed a Michigan Stadium-record 431 yards of total offense (310 passing, 121 rushing, 4 total TDs) in a 45-20 win over the Wolverines in 2008

Threw for a career-high 462 yards against Minnesota in 2008


Threw for more than  11,000career passing yards, second to only Drew Brees in Big Ten history

Tossed 67 touchdowns, good for third in school history and eighth all-time in the conference

Set Big Ten record for most passing yards (3,985) in a season in 2005, breaking Drew Brees’ 3,983 mark

Threw for a Motor City Bowl record 540 yards in the 2007 Motor City Bowl

Completed 38 of 54 passes for 448 yards and five touchdowns in his final collegiate game


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (34 Comments)
Scott on 9/14/2011 @ 3:52pm EDT Said:

Why is the BTN pretending that Nebraska used to be a part of the B10? They are now and future, not past. Same with classic games, I don’t care to watch old B12 games. staff on 9/15/2011 @ 10:18am EDT Said:

    It’s an understandable sentiment and one we’ve seen before. We treated Penn State the same way airing some classic games from before the entered the conference. While their membership started recently, we still honor their history and traditions dating back past the year they entered the Big Ten. It’s fun for us to air and watch he old games and we hope you understand why we do it. Thanks for the note.

Ryan on 9/15/2011 @ 11:19pm EDT Said:

So the 2002 Davey O’Brien Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner up didn’t make the list? Apparently this is career a statistical list.

Jonathan on 9/16/2011 @ 2:34am EDT Said:

I enjoy any old football game and I understand why they do it. Nebraska fans are now part of this network as is their history.

But about that list. No Pryor? No Clark from PSU? At best you can say your list in incomplete. Like it or not, Pryor was a prolific athlete who dominated the big ten. All big ten coaches are glad he is gone because otherwise it would be another undefeated buckeye team with a possible national title.

Clarke put up stellar numbers and won a lot of football games. Best PSU QB in a long time.

Brandon on 9/16/2011 @ 6:14pm EDT Said:

Drew Stanton?!? He was dominating on the field. He was heavily scouted by the NFL. He was often mentioned in the heisman watch and Davey O’Brien trophy.

Ajay Singh on 9/22/2011 @ 2:41am EDT Said:

So to honor non conference teams we disrespect conference teams/players? They shouldn’t earn “Big Tens best” staus without playing Big Ten schedule. in other words they need to have earned it IN the Big Ten. If not then “Big Ten’s best” is nothing more than a meaningless not to mention inaccurate phrase. staff on 9/22/2011 @ 10:36am EDT Said:

    Well, we understand what you’re saying but we embrace the history of all schools no matter when they joined. It’s inclusive. It’s just a difference of opinion and approach, and in no way is anyone meant to be disrespected by this. Thanks for the comment.

Joe on 10/19/2011 @ 9:25pm EDT Said:

Brad Banks – Iowa. AP College Football Player of the Year, Heisman Runner-up, Davey O’Brien Winner, Walter Camp 1st Team All American, Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year, Undefeated Big 10 Season, and led team to Orange Bowl.
I don’t see how a list of the best QBs of the 2000s cannot include Brad Banks. Please explain…

weisguy on 10/21/2011 @ 1:06am EDT Said:

How does Drew Tate get left off this list. Single handed led iowa to share of big ten title as a 1st year starter with 5th string running back? not to mention the last minute miracle against LSU in cap one bowl that same year. and career stats to match anyone in at least bottom half of this list.

Russ on 5/22/2012 @ 1:28pm EDT Said:

Just finished watching this and I have to say it’s terrible. I have to agree with weisguy. How can you leave off Drew Tate or Ricky Stanzi for that matter? Tate has better completion %ages, more yards and TDs and less interceptions than most of the guys on that list. Stanzi’s completion %age, TDs and interceptions is better than most on the list too and I would bet their number of wins compares favorable also. True QBs were left off the list in favor of players who were better runners than passers (Crouch, Randle El and Williams). Poor list.

    Ed Crawford on 5/22/2012 @ 7:10pm EDT Said:

    Ricky Stanzy, Brad Banks, Drew Tate. all were good players, It seems if they went to Iowa that automaticly disqualifies them. Who do you have on the best “D” linemen, Linebackers, or O-linemen…

Kieran on 6/2/2012 @ 3:23pm EDT Said:

This list is a complete joke. Everyone else has made solid cases for other qbs and I agree, but anyone ever hear of Michael Robinson? The man turned the penn state program back around in 2005. He was seconds away from going to the national championship that year if it wasn’t the clock work at Michigan. The man did it all at his four years at penn state but as the starting qb in 05 he won the big ten with a group of FRESHMAN wide receivers. I don’t know how you leave him off this list. These rankings are horrible.

Haight on 6/2/2012 @ 11:05pm EDT Said:

Sorry, but I need to jump on this ‘Why is Nebraska on the list?’ bandwagon. It just doesn’t make sense. So if you do a ‘Greatest Big Ten Football Coaches Ever’, you would include Tom Osborne? Mike Rozier as one of the ‘Greatest Big Ten RBs’? It’s silly.

I think we can learn Nebraska’s history without including them in lists they do not qualify for. Adding them also excludes a deserving Big Ten athlete during that era.

gabe o on 6/5/2012 @ 8:47pm EDT Said:

drew tate and brad banks definately should have made this list

Ed on 6/10/2012 @ 6:40pm EDT Said:

Banks 1 year was better than any of the bottom 3 had in 4…agree on Michael Robinson as well.

robert on 6/30/2012 @ 9:52pm EDT Said:

I agree with including Nebraska and Penn State’s history before they officially entered the Big Ten. The reason the schools were invited to the Big Ten was because their tradition. Alaska and Hawaii did not become part of the United States until the 1950s. Yet, Alaskan and Hawaiian history before the 1950s becomes part of American history by virtue of the fact they are now part of America. As a matter of conference pride, I am sure most Big Ten fans would count national titles won by members before they joined the Big Ten in the conference national title total, so the performances of great players should now be recognized as part of that history. Given that great tradition was part of the reason for the schools and Big Ten conference coming together, it would seem unwise to exclude part of that history in asssessment of the conference’s history.

Haight on 7/2/2012 @ 10:50am EDT Said:

I think we can all agree on learning about and including UN & PSU history prior to them joining the conference. However, including a player in a ‘Best of’ list that did not play in the conference during that time frame seems like apples and oranges.

    Ed Crawford on 7/3/2012 @ 12:48am EDT Said:

    It seems that if the player didn’t go to Michigan, Ohio State, or Nebraska they don’t matter.

Dave on 7/7/2012 @ 1:42pm EDT Said:

No disrespect to Brooks Bolinger (he belongs on list), but really higher than Chad Henne? Got to be kidding.

Not beat a dead horse, but how does Neb get included, but when I watched Best QB’s of 80’s, the show used that as disclaimer why no Penn St Qb’s were included because they weren’t in Big Ten during 80’s? Seems inconsistent.

WE_ARE on 7/7/2012 @ 1:55pm EDT Said:

Where the heck is Anthony Morelli on this list?

Tom on 7/7/2012 @ 7:13pm EDT Said:

Ever hear of Drew Brees? Won the Maxwell Award, finished 3rd in the Heisman in the 2000 season? Also at least one of Michael Robinson or Darryl Clarke and Brad Banks should be there. Williams being there is a joke.

this list is a joke on 7/7/2012 @ 9:18pm EDT Said:

replace eric crouch with brad banks since eric crouch never played in the big ten

Scott on 7/8/2012 @ 3:42pm EDT Said:

Local elementary school kids make this list? No Drew Brees, Michael Robinson, Brad Banks, Daryl Clark, John Navarre, or even Jeff Smoker??

Dave on 7/10/2012 @ 8:32pm EDT Said:

Tom & Scott, BTN named Brees Best QB of 90’s since the majority of his college career was in 90’s.

Dustin on 7/15/2012 @ 2:12pm EDT Said:

Drew Brees, Drew Tate, Brad Banks, Asad Abdul-Khaliq, or Drew Stanton all better than Brooks Bollinger and their achievements prove it. The Huskers weren’t in the Big Ten in 00-10 so leave crouch and any husker off this list.

Ben Wittrock on 7/21/2012 @ 11:53pm EDT Said:

I agree with Dave on this one. It is true that the BTN used the disclaimer for best QBs of the 80’s that Penn State was ineligible because they were not part of the Big 10. Including Eric Crouch is a joke because he did not play in the Big 10, therefore should be ineligible. And Robert I do not include any national titles that any team has won before joining the conference, so leave Nebraska of the list. Would love to see BTN come up with a new list and take a little bit more time to think about it.

paul on 7/22/2012 @ 12:01am EDT Said:

I agree Dave and would love to hear an explanation from the big ten network as to how this is ok to leave Penn state out of the 80s but not Nebraska in the 2000, love the double standard here, lets correct this please. staff on 7/30/2012 @ 4:01pm EDT Said:

    Sorry for the delay here. I don’t have an answer for you here. We do know BTN’s shows have included schools and players dating back because their history matters to our viewers and we embrace it as a conference. We know that issues some have with that, but we’ve tried to be consistent. I can see in this case how any inconsistency would get fans upset. We didn’t see the show you specifically note, but you’re welcome to send a note to our customer service team. They handle a number of questions on a variety of topics regarding the TV programs. You can contact them here.

Dave on 8/8/2012 @ 12:44pm EDT Said:

Ed Crawford, Are you serious? You say “It seems that if the player didn’t go to Michigan, Ohio State, or Nebraska they don’t matter”. Let’s take another look:
#3 Randle El Indiana
#4 Bollinger Wisconsin (still a joke to be higher than Henne)
#7 Orton Purdue
#8 Basanez Northwestern
#9 Williams Illinois
#10 Painter Purdue

6 out of 10 from other schools and Purdue has more listed than Michigan or Nebraska and same amount as Ohio State.

jonathan wolfe on 8/22/2012 @ 3:05pm EDT Said:

Where is Brad Banks? Wow!!

jonathan wolfe on 8/23/2012 @ 9:42am EDT Said:

Brad Banks- this is the shame of the list to me. He was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best Quarterback. He was named AP College Football Player of the Year, Walter Camp Foundation First-team All-America, Second-team All-America by the AP, Second-team All-America by The Sporting News, Second-team All-America by He also earned the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award as the Big Ten Conference’s Most Valuable Player. He was named the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year, one of three finalists for Maxwell Award, one of 10 finalists for Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year, First-team All-Conference, a permanent team captain on offense, Co-Offensive MVP, Hayden Fry “Extra Heartbeat” Award winner. He was also selected to play in East/West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl. Brooks Bollinger is simply not as good as Banks or Darryl Clark or Michael Robinson and should not be on the list.

Jeff D on 9/3/2012 @ 5:00pm EDT Said:

Dear Big Ten network:

1. You can’t just pull a Stephen Colbert, i.e. take an outrageous position and then say “lets agree to disagree” when people protest. We are your audience. You should probably listen. Just like there should be no mention of Penn State when you talk about anything Big Ten in the 1970s, there should be no mention of Nebraska when talking about anything Big Ten in the 2000s. Its silly and corrupts the entire premise of what you are trying to do with these Best of shows. The Big Ten is a collective, and you can’t isolate parts of it. Just ask Notre Dame why they have never wanted to join league – because much luster would be lost as they go through the meat grinder.

2. As far as this show/episode is concerned, not a very good job. That is fine I guess if your intent is more to stimulate arguments. If it is to come up with a halfway accurate homage to best QBs from 2000-2010, a better effort is needed. Plenty of valid comments above, but let me just say that Curtis Painter was the consummate anti-clutch player from freshman to junior. A lazy someone clearly looked up who had the most passing yardage in the decade and said well, he has to be on the list so lets just make im last. All those yard were piled up against cream puffs while he couldn’t buy them vs heavyweights.

But anyway, Drew Brees is the greatest Big Ten QB of the modern era, hands down. The fact that his career spilled over between 90s and 2000s is no excuse, as I see Brooks Bollinger on the list. Arguing Brad Banks vs Michael Robinson is one thing, but Brees not #1 just means your credibility is lacking and I am not likely to watch anymore of these Best of shows.


Alex on 9/13/2012 @ 4:50pm EDT Said:

I think people take these lists too literally. It’s an opinion guys. I’m a PSU fan and Clark took us to the Rose Bowl but I saw him choke too many times against good competition (Iowa twice) to be on this list. Discussion is good but really if you get that bent out of shape because someone THINKS something different than you do there’s a problem. Enjoy these posts for what they are, fillers until we get to the real games.

K. John on 6/8/2013 @ 11:13am EDT Said:

Darryl Clark was a better quarterback than every player on this list, period. Then there is Michael Robinson who actually was the player idiots in the media throught Tim Tebow was but wasn’t while he was in high school. Drew Stanton absolutely belongs on this list and Drew Brees only played one season during this period, he absolutely belongs. Drew Stanton was better than most of these wannabes as was Illinois’s Kurt Kitner and Iowa’s Brad Banks. Another pathetic list from the know nothing fools at BTN.