NCF Nation: Simon & Garfunkel

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

A lesser known Simon & Garfunkel ditty:

Where have you gone, Pac-10 quarterbacks,
The West Coast turns its lonely eyes to you.
What's that you say, College GameDay.
The QBs have left and gone away,
Hey hey hey.

Every season since 2002, at least four Pac-10 quarterbacks averaged more than 240 yards passing per game.

This year? Zero.

Every season since 2002, at least two Pac-10 quarterbacks passed for more than 3,000 yards

Heck, in 2002, nine Pac-10 quarterbacks passed for more than 2,750 yards.

This year? Only USC's Mark Sanchez is on pace to eclipse that total.

In only one other season since 2002 has the Pac-10 not produced a quarterback ranked in the top-10 in the nation in passing yards -- 2006 -- and that season four Pac-10 quarterbacks ranked among the top 30.

This year? Just two in the top 30, with Sanchez at No. 23 and Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter at 29.

What in the name of Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers and Derek Anderson is going on with the Conference of Quarterbacks?

The best QBs apparently migrated to fly-over states of the Big 12.

Quick: Name the starting quarterback for every Pac-10 team.

Of course, you can't do that because, even if you are tuned in enough to know who Ronnie Fouch and Kevin Lopina are, there's uncertainty who will start for a couple of teams Saturday.

Here's the starting list in 2004: Matt Leinart, Aaron Rodgers, Kellen Clemens, Derek Anderson, Trent Edwards, Andrew Walter, Drew Olson and Alex Brink.

All of them are presently on NFL rosters, other than Olson, who was waived by the San Francisco 49ers in July.

Only four conference teams this year have started in every game the guy who led the first-team offense during spring practices, and one of them, Stanford's Tavita Pritchard, has been clawing to hold onto his perch every day since.

The mediocrity (and worse) is so prevalent at the position that USC coach Pete Carroll admitted last week that his outstanding defense might look other-worldly at times because of the lack of talent and experience running the offenses opposing the Trojans.

"There's no question that it's helped us play better defense," Carroll said. "Our numbers and the things we put up here at this point is a benefit of teams that have been banged up. And, of course, good play. I don't want to take anything away from it. It's still seizing the opportunity. But sometimes when players aren't there for you, the big-time guys, it makes an enormous difference."

Yes it has, see the national perception of a down Pac-10.

Here's grounds for measured optimism.

Only two (full-time) starting quarterbacks are seniors: Arizona's Willie Tuitama and Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter. California's Nate Longshore is also a senior, but he's closer to sophomore Kevin Riley's backup than the reverse.

Conventional wisdom is that experience is critical for quarterbacks and even more so in the Pac-10 where offenses are far more complicated than in the cavemen conferences.

So that means eight teams should be stronger at the position in 2009.

Otherwise, Pac-10 fans will sing another obscure Simon & Garfunkel song:

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a QB terribly passing,
Threw more picks and left me weeping,
And the losing that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of booing.

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