Talent matters more than pedigree in NFL

Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich are proof that small-school players can succeed in the NFL.

Updated: December 6, 2004, 4:28 PM ET
By Joe Theismann | ESPN Insider
Joe ponders a few questions over his Monday morning cup.

Small college quarterbacks getting the job done

It was a pleasure watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the league go at it on Sunday Night Football. Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger didn't come from quarterback factories or from big name football programs, instead they came from colleges in the MAC.

For too long, guys from small schools have been knocked because of the lack of high-level competition in their conference. It's been assumed that a player from a small school couldn't play at a higher level because of that, but these two guys should put the final nails in the coffin of that assumption.