The success of a college football program can be measured by a number of ways.
In the early process, you can gauge how a program may do based on the incoming talent via recruiting. Much is bantered about how many 4-star and 5-star players that a school has signed or how many high profile commitments a school can boast.
Of course, actual wins and losses on the field determine which schools are really the best. How many bowl wins? How many championships?
Plus, a program's success is rated on how much NFL talent that a school churned out. How many top draft picks? How many future All-Pros and Hall of Famers?
Well, I decided to do a little digging on the last matter. Throughout the history of college football, which teams produced the most NFL players and Hall of Famers?
Let me start locally. LSU started playing football in 1893. Of course the National Football League wasn't around yet. The Tigers have sent 281 former players to professional football. Three are in the Hall of Fame. Think about who those Hall of Famers are. I'll identify them in a little bit.
A total of 281 sounds like a significant amount of talent good enough to play for pay. Well, yes, it is pretty good, but even with that many, LSU does not even rank in the top among college football powers. In fact, they are not even the top ranked in this category in the SEC.
Who is the best? Well, since this team has been prominent throughout a majority of their existence, it shouldn't surprise you. The Notre Dame Fightin' Irish have produced an impressive 513 players with 11 making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The USC Trojans are tied for first with eleven ex-Trojans reaching Canton.
Three additional schools in the Pelican state boast NFL Hall of Famers.
Southern University has one (Mel Blount), Louisiana Tech has three (Terry Bradshaw, Fred Dean and 2012 inductee Willie Roaf).
Grambling State's Tigers have four in Canton (CB Willie Brown, DE Willie Davis, WR Charlie Joiner and DT Buck Buchanan).
Here are the top 25 teams all-time in producing NFL talent and Pro Football Hall of Famers:
1-Notre Dame - 513 NFL players all-time (11 Hall of Famers... Paul Hornung, Nick Bouniconti, Dave Casper)
2-USC - 438 ex. Trojans went to the NFL (11 made it to the Hall of Fame... Marcus Allen, Frank Gifford, Ronnie Lott, O.J. Simpson, Lynn Swann, Ron Yary)
3-Ohio State -378 players to the NFL (6 in Hall of Fame... Lou Groza, Dick LeBeau, Paul Warfield, Jim Parker, Bill Willis)
4-Michigan - 332 players to the NFL (6 in Hall of Fame)
5-Penn State - 325 in the NFL (5 in Hall of Fame... Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Lenny Moore)
6-Nebraska - 324 in NFL (3 in Hall of Fame)
7-Oklahoma - 296 NFLers (3 in Hall of Fame)
8-Tennessee - 290 to the NFL, tops in the SEC (2 Hall of Famers)
9-Pittsburgh - 287 in NFL (9 in the Hall... Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Ricky Jackson, Dan Marino)
10-Miami - 284 players overall (5 in Hall of Fame)
11-LSU - 281 players (3 in Hall of Fame... Y.A. Tittle, Jimmy Taylor, Steve Van Buren)
12-UCLA - 278 players to the NFL (4 in Hall... Troy Aikman, Tom Fears, Bob Waterfield, Jimmy Johnson)
13-Wisconsin - 271 to the NFL (4 in the Hall of Fame)
14-Texas - 268 in the NFL (4 in Hall... Earl Campbell, Tom Landry, Bobby Layne, Tex Schramm )
15-Alabama - 267 in the NFL (7 Hall of Famers... Bart Starr, Derrick Thomas, John Hannah, Don Hutson, Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, Dwight Stephenson)
16-Michigan State - 263 went onto NFL (2 in Hall of Fame)
17-Purdue - 260 to NFL (4 in Hall... Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Hank Stram, Rod Woodson)
18-Georgia-259 to the NFL (2 in Hall of Fame... Fran Tarkenton, Charlie Trippi)
19-Florida - 255 in NFL (2 in Hall of Fame)
20-(tie) Texas A&M - 249 (1 in Hall of Fame)
---Illinois also with 249 (3 in Hall of Fame... Dick Butkus)
21-Washington - 241 to NFL (3 in Hall of Fame)
22-Iowa -235 NFL players (3 in NFL Hall of Fame)
23-Minnesota 234 in NFL (5 in Hall of Fame... Bobby Bell, Carl Eller, Bud Grant, Bronko Nagurski, Charlie Sanders, Leo Nomellini)
24-(tie) Syracuse with 228 (6 in Hall of Fame... Jim Brown)
---Auburn also with 228 in NFL (1 in Hall of Fame)
25-(tie) Arizona State 225 in NFL (4 in Hall of Fame)
---Florida State also with 225 (2 in Hall of Fame)
You may note that tiny Grambling State has four former greats in Canton, which is more than 13 schools from the above list and ties them with five other college football powers which also have four.
The late legendary coach Eddie Robinson did a pretty good job, didn't he?
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