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Alabama QB Jalen Hurts gets advice from Tom Brady over FaceTime

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Alabama may have fallen just shy of a second straight national championship last January, so why not emulate some of the plays used by a Super Bowl champion? The hiring of a former New England Patriots assistant coach as offensive coordinator was bound to make that a possibility.

Brian Daboll is busy working with the Alabama offense this spring as he takes over as offensive coordinator following the departures of Lane Kiffin (FAU) and Steve Sarkisian (Atlanta Falcons), and he has been sprinkling in some plays that have helped contribute to the recent success in New England. Daboll has been taking advantage of his connections from his previous job by setting up instant conversations over FaceTime between Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts and Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

“We’re running some of the same stuff they’ve ran, so he’ll call Tom Brady and ask him what his top five plays are,” Hurts said, according to ESPN. “It’s cool because we’re running the same plays he’s ran.”

As if Alabama needed much help winning, now they’re getting professional advice from a future hall of fame quarterback and an all-pro tight end and more. The rich get richer.

And don’t forget, Brady is 1-0 in his career against Alabama. He led Michigan to an Orange Bowl victory over the Crimson Tide with 369 pasing yards and four touchdowns at the end of the 1999 season. Of course, that was before Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.

A not-so-surprising Heisman Trophy first in NFC Championship Game

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The NFL’s conference championship weekend is set with another bout between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the AFC and the top two teams in the NFC, Arizona and Carolina, going toe-to-toe for the NFC championship. While there will be plenty of attention given to yet another meeting between Manning and Brady, the NFC Championship Game is making some history with a college football twist. With Cam Newton of the Panthers and Carson Palmer of the Cardinals set to start in the NFC Championship Game, we will see the first NFL postseason meeting between two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.

At first glance, that comes across as a surprising factoid to consume, but it should not come across as a major shock. Given the track record of Heisman Trophy winner sin the NFL, we already know the Heisman Trophy is far from a guarantee for sustained NFL success. This is especially true for quarterbacks, although the jury is still out on a number of the more recent Heisman-winning QBs (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota offer some good promise, and who knows if there is still time to save Robert Griffin III, for example). Also keep in mind that for the majority of the history of the Heisman Trophy, running backs were the dominant position before the turn of the 21st century gave way to quarterbacks taking control of the award more often than not.

Take a look through Heisman history and look at the quarterbacks who have won the stiff-arm trophy over the years. Just two quarterbacks won the award in the 1960s, Navy’s Roger Staubach and Notre Dame’s John Huarte. Staubach went on to have a stellar career. Huarte? Not so much. Two quarterbacks won the Heisman in the 1970s, and once again the careers of Jim Plunkett of Stanford and Pat Sullivan of Auburn took drastically different paths. Of the three quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy in the 1980s (Doug Flutie, Andre Ware, Vinny Testaverde), only Miami’s Testaverde proved to have a sustained NFL career, which included a couple of solid runs here and there, but he almost never faced another Heisman-winning QB during his lengthy career.

The 1990s saw four quarterbacks win the Heisman Trophy. Ty Detmer was essentially a career backup. Gino Torretta‘s run in the NFL was brief. Danny Wuerffel did not fare too much better. And Charlie Ward went on to play in the NBA instead of the NFL. Ward may have been the best NFL QB out of that bunch had he focused on the NFL instead.

Even the quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy since 2000 have been farther from competing for an NFL conference championship more often than not. This weekend, 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer just won his first postseason game as a starting quarterback since blowing out Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl. 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke has an NFC Championship ring, but that came as a backup. 2001 winner Eric Crouch played four years in the NFL with three teams and ended his playing career in the short-lived UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks. 2003 winner Jason White was not even drafted and stepped away due to bad knees. 2004 winner Matt Leinart never lived up to his perceived potential in Arizona and moved on to Houston, Oakland and Buffalo before getting into TV. 2006 winner Troy Smith was a career back-up, for the most part, behind Steve McNair and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Sam Bradford has been plagued by injuries and Robert Griffin III is looking to rejuvenate his career in a new situation in 2016. And I’m even going to spare you the talk about Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel.

One more piece of information to keep in mind was the AFC and NFC Championship Game structure was not utilized until 1970 when the NFL merged with the AFL. For an award that was first handed out in 1935, that cuts out a number of quarterbacks from even having the possibility to play in an NFL conference championship game (Davey O’BrienAngelo Bertelli, Lee Horvath, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung, Terry Baker).

So yes, it is surprising we have not seen a matchup of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks in an NFL postseason game before, but it is not at all shocking given the history of the Heisman Trophy. And no, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never won the Heisman Trophy either.

All in the Michigan family: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. follows dad to Ann Arbor

Tyrone Wheatley Jr
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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was tasked with bringing the Michigan family back together when he was hired. Today he seems to be doing that somewhat literally.

Tyrone Wheatley Jr., a four-star tight end recruit out of Buffalo, has decided to join the Wolverines over a surging UCLA program. Wheatley Jr. is the son of former Michigan running back Tyrone Wheatley, who has recently been added to the Michigan coaching staff as a running backs coach. The younger Wheatley is the top-rated recruit in New York according to Rivals, and the No. 13 running back in the Class of 2015.

Wheatley Jr. is not the only legacy recruit in Harbaugh’s first recruiting class at Michigan. Offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. out of Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s Prep has also been included in this year’s haul. Runyan Jr. is the son of former Pro Bowl offensive lineman and Wolverine standout Jon Runyan. Michigan has missed on a few big-time recruits today, but Harbaugh is starting to generate some momentum with the recruiting process. As it stands right now, Michigan has five four-star recruits lined up in the Class of 2015 and is awaiting just two more expected letters of intent.

No word on whether Harbaugh will be awaiting a possible future commitment from any player named Tom Brady Jr.

Photo credit: Rivals

Big Ten quarterbacks pull championship double-dip

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As you surely know by now, the New England Patriots edged the Seattle Seahawks in yesterday’s Super Bowl. A lot of you watched the game, and my bosses at NBC thank you for that. Perhaps the Big Ten will find a way to stake one more claim to fame in the most recent season of football.

For the first time in Big Ten history, Big Ten quarterback won college football’s national championship and the Super Bowl. Ohio State won the first College Football Playoff with third-string quarterback Cardale Jones finishing the job started by backup J.T. Barrett after starter Braxton Miller underwent shoulder surgery just before the start of the 2014 season. Then, yesterday, former Michigan Wolverine quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory.

Never before in the Super Bowl Era of the NFL has a Big Ten quarterback won the big game in the same season a Big Ten team won the national championship, either split or outright.

This is all a coincidence and stretching to find any real connection, but in an age where schools claim national titles left and right based on the smallest details in the record books, why not have the Big Ten pump their chests one more time this season?

NC State will be QB U, for one NFL weekend

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Greg Schiano could very well be on his way back to the college sidelines if things do not turn around with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the end of the year. This week Schiano generated some buzz with his decision to bench starting quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, from North Carolina State.

We’ll leave the analysis of this decision as it pertains to that football played on sundays for the folks over at Pro Football Talk, but one Reddit user brought this interesting nugget to my attention. This weekend in the NFL there will be three starting quarterbacks who played at North Carolina State, one more than Michigan and Florida State. In addition to Glennon, former Wolfpack quarterbacks Phillip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) will also be in action.

Michigan’s two quarterbacks are Tom Brady at New England and Chad Henne in Jacksonville. Florida State’s two starting quarterbacks are EJ Manuel (Buffalo) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota).