What does Chuck Long think of quarterbacks in Big Ten?

Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long, center, serves as honorary captain and walks for the coin toss before a game against Michigan in 2009.

As a game and studio analyst for the Big Ten Network, former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long is well aware of what the conference, and college football as a whole, has in terms of quarterback play.

To say that he isn't impressed would be putting it mildly.

Long believes that his alma mater, compared to many teams, is fortunate to have two quarterbacks in junior Jake Rudock and sophomore C.J. Beathard who have shown the ability to win at this level.

"Everybody says this comment, 'if you have two (quarterbacks), you don't have one,' " Long said. "I don't believe that. If you have two, you have two. There are a lot of (teams) who don't have one.

"And trust me on that. I watch national games, I mean I watch everybody, and there are some teams out there that need a quarterback, number one, and number two, they have really poor quarterback, fundamental play. And it's alarming with what's going on with that. And I personally think the Big Ten quarterbacks -- there are half of them that need to get better."

Long knows something or two about quality quarterback play. He was a rare four-year starter at Iowa from 1982-85 who finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy as a senior. He is also a former NFL quarterback, a former college head coach at San Diego State and a former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Kansas.

So Long watches quarterbacks with a keen eye and he often is disappointed with what he sees.

"I think there is just some poor quarterback play," Long said when asked why so many quarterbacks in his opinion are struggling this season. "I think it's a combination of poor play, poor fundamentals and poor coaching. And coaches not fitting the system around that quarterback has a lot to do with it, too.

"I've seen all the above on a national scale and it's hitting the Big Ten. And I think there are seven out of 14 teams now that need better quarterback play for all those reasons I stated."

The top 10 quarterbacks in the Big Ten in terms of passing efficiency have combined to throw 35 interceptions this season. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova and Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner are tied for most interceptions with six apiece, while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown five interceptions in three games.

Barrett became the starter after Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury early in preseason practice. Miller was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in each of the past two seasons.

Long stopped short of saying which seven Big Ten teams needed help at quarterback, although, he excluded Iowa from that group.

"I think Iowa is in a better situation than half the league, so I think Iowa is in a good situation right now," Long said. "I do believe they have two quarterbacks who are capable of winning games. And that's the bottom line."