Football: Bartkowski enters college Hall of Fame; Where does he rate among Cal’s best QBs?

Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who led the nation with 2,850 passing yards in 1974, then was the first overall pick of the 1975 NFL draft, was elected as a member of the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision Class.

Bartkowski is among 14 former All-Americans and three coaches who make up the 2012 class.

“It’s an absolute honor, and I’m humbled by it, especially now that I hear some of the guys that are along with me in this class,” Bartkowski was quoted in Cal’s news release. “I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s one of the highest honors I’ve received, and I’m grateful for it.”

So, where does Bartkowski rate among the greatest Cal QBs?

It’s difficult comparing players from different eras, but starting an argument is the whole point of these lists, right?

So, let’s hear from all you.

Before you send me your top-10 list, here’s mine:

1. Aaron Rodgers (2003-04): Great college QB, great pro QB.

2. Steve Bartkowski (1972-74): Cal’s only No. 1 overall NFL draft pick delivered.

3. Troy Taylor (1986-89): Efficient, tough QB produced with limited help.

4. Mike Pawlawski (1988-91): Tough-guy leader of ’91 Citrus Bowl winner.

5. Pat Barnes (1993-96): Threw for school-record 3,499 yards, 34 TDs as senior. 

6. Craig Morton (1962-64): Good enough to be All-America on 3-7 team.

7. Joe Kapp (1956-58): Forget the rest — he was most recent Rose Bowl QB.

8. Joe Roth (1975-76): Directed a magical offensive unit in ’75.

9. Dave Barr (1992-94): Cool Concord kid was underrated, maybe even by me.

10. Rich Campbell (1978-80): Has to be a place for 7,174 yards, 64.5 percent.

   Honorable mention: Paul Larson (1951-54), Gale Gilbert (1980-84), Kyle Boller (1999-2002).

Jeff Faraudo

  • San Ramon Mike

    What? No Joe Ayoob?

    I think Roth is too low. Should be up ahead of Barnes at least based on 1975. I’d also move Pawlawski ahead of Taylor. I know he was Troy’s backup and the numbers aren’t equal but Pawlawski had that it factor…He was the best leader I’ve seen. The type of guy that if you could pick one guy to win one game you’d have to consider him. Rodgers is number 1 and like Bartkowski he SHOULD have been the #1 overall pick too. But overall I think your list is good.

    1) Rodgers
    2) Bartkowski
    3) Pawlawski (maybe too high but a great leader and 2 bowl wins when they hadn’t won a bowl in 30 years)
    4) Roth
    5) Morton
    6) Kapp
    7) Taylor
    8) Barnes
    9) Barr
    10) Campbell

  • Gobears49

    Would have been ranked In the top 5 Cal quarterbacks if he had stuck around (and maybe the top 3) — Vince Ferragamo. He beat out Bartkowski before transferring to Nebraska. Didn’t play as long as Bartkowski did in the pro’s, but did play in one Super Bowl, which Bartkowski never came close to doing. As a pro player who played QB at Cal, I think he ranks only behind Rodgers, Morton, and Kapp

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Hmm Bartkowski was better than Ferragamo both in college and pro. Atlanta was a bad team.

    I like Morton but I’m biased because when I was a school board member here in Rockport, I talked to him about being our coach – he was really nice.

    Roth may have had the most potential – his stats are skewed from playing with advanced cancer.

  • Gobears49

    Bartkowski may have been a better pro, but Ferragamo beat him out of the starting QB job when they went head to head at Cal, though Bartkowski may have been a year younger.

  • Eric

    Got to move Roth up. And Dave Barr was, I believe, undefeated in every game he started in 1993 (except for the one where he got injured in the first half with us up). He was exceptionally good, and totally underrated. I’d move him ahead Barnes, who, while solid, had his numbers inflated by that crazy 5-OT game against Arizona that led to the OT rule change requiring going for two.

  • Forest Peter

    Just looked at your list. You have to have Craig Morton higher. Taylor, Barnes, and Campbell need to be lower.
    Forget statistics for a second then you’ll see that Kapp,Roth,Larson and Celeri were all number one. Listen to the roaring crowd in the old bowl and tell me I’m wrong.

  • Old Bear

    Kapp & Morton clearly need to be rated higher. I’m a big fan of both Taylor & Pawlawski (especially Pawlawski; not much talent but he had more than enough heart to make up for it) BUT there’s no way either should be rated above Kapp or Morton.

    Pat Barnes?? Please. Cal had their choice of Barnes or Jake Plummer & they CLEARLY chose wrong. The guy might’ve been the #1 ranked hs player but his was a worse than average career at Cal; mostly NOT the fault of the less than stellar coaching.

    I’d also give more love to Dave Barr because the guy went from awful his 1st starting year to terrific by his last. I recall Starkey musing that if he had had just one more year, Barr might’ve become among the best college QB’s in the nation. His growth was really astounding.

    You also have to give Boller some handicap points because he was the victim of the worst Cal coaching staff in history. Had he enjoyed better, he doubtless would’ve done better.

    Ferragamo “beat out” Bartkowski?? RU SERIOUS?? That’s like saying Reggie Robertson was better than Aaron Rodgers because he was the starter early in 2003. I was at Cal during the early-mid 70’s and had the misfortune of witnessing just how AWFUL a career Ferragamo had at Cal. There was clearly a reason VF transferred, and it wasn’t all academic.

  • Taxbear

    Bartkowski was a year ahead of Ferragamo at Cal. Ferragamo beat out Bartkowski at the end of Ferragamo’s true freshman year (replacing, I believe, Jay Cruze) and then Bartkowski beat out Ferragamo at the beginning of Ferragamo’s junior year (which prompted Ferragamo’s transfer to Nebraska).

  • Larno

    Bartkowski is older than Ferragamo. When Ferragamo threw the last second TD to Steve Sweeney in the ’72 Big Game he was only a freshman.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Great arguments made by most of you — especially Old Bear with respect to his support of Kapp and Morton.

  • Ziv Gotlieb Fan Club

    Good list, but I would move Dave Barr to 5, drop Pat Barnes down to 10, swap spots between Pawlawski and Troy Taylor and move Joe Roth up one. You should do a list of all time great QB single game performances. Aaron Rogers v. USC would still be no. 1 but the other slots would make room for the likes of Big Game heros Steve Levy and Jay Torchio.

  • BlueNGold

    I remember Steve Bartkowski as a classmate as well as a starting QB. I recall a class with him and he was not only a very nice guy, but quite smart too. He added a lot to Cal football and I think he deserves a high ranking on the all time QB list.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Question: Who was the highest drafted QB in history not to have started an NFL game?

  • MoreNCsarecoming


  • Randy

    1. Joe Roth
    2. Aaron Rodgers
    3. Steve Bartkowski
    4. Craig Morton
    5. Mike Pawlawski
    6. Joe Kapp
    7. Troy Taylor
    8. Pat Barnes (1993-96)
    9. Dave Barr (1992-94)
    10.Rich Campbell

  • LongtimeBlue&Gold

    been following the Bears since Ferragamo was playing, and it’s hard to see placing anyone ahead of Joe Roth. Not just the ’75 season; as I recall he started the next year scorching as well (despite the significant loss of Muncie from the running game), until his health caught up with him…

  • Gobears49

    Old Bear,

    I am on the road, but I will try to find online what the comparative statistics were in the years that both Bartkowski and Ferragamo were at Cal, but I did read that Bartkowski shared QB duties with Ferragamo and that Bartkowski only had a great year when he was a senior, after Ferragamo left. I think the comparative stats will tell the tale.

  • oldcalfan

    Joe Kapp. What other Cal QB has scored on a 92 yard QB sneak? ( Vs. Oregon, 1958).

  • Gobears49

    Forgot to add, in comment #19 above, that the stats for 1973 show Ferragamo having a lot more passing attempts than Bartkowski, which most likely shows that Ferragamo got more playing time than Bartkowski that year. That is what I said initially. Unless anyone can show me actual minutes played during the season, I think that stats shown above support my view that Ferragamo beat out Bartkowski in 1973, the year before Ferragamo left for Nebraska.

    I will be waiting for people to state their contrary views, and back them up with stats.

  • Randy

    I was in the stadium for the Ferragamo and Bartowski (and Roth) years as a member of the Cal Band. Bartowski had a rocket arm and was also a star (catcher, I believe) on the baseball team. There were thoughts that he would leave football to concentrate on a pro baseball career. Until his senior year, he simply hadn’t developed touch on his passes. I recall some of his rockets simply bouncing off of his receivers because he threw so hard. Ferragamo did earn more playing time in 1973, but then he left. Bartowski rose to the occasion for his senior year in the fall of 1974. He developed touch on his passes. Of course, it didn’t hurt to have Muncie in his backfield. He had a superb year. Bart’s 1974 season was better, IMHO, than any collegiate season by Ferragamo at either Cal or Nebraska. The top three seasons for QB I have seen at Cal were Roth ’75, Rodgers ’04, and Bart ’74. Each was spectacular in its own way and I find it very hard to compare and decide one was better than another. Ferragamo does not make that list — end of story.

  • covinared

    Really hard to rank so many good qb’s. It used to be we were always strong at qb even if lacking in other areas. If only we had one of these guys the last few years.

  • Kevin Thomas

    Going back a ways, and without considering NFL careers, only their Cal careers, here’s my list.

    1. Joe Roth – All-American. Simply the best, could throw all the passes perfectly.
    2. Paul Larson – All-American. Best all around QB. Led the nation in total offense, and led the team in punt and kickoff returns.
    3. Craig Morton – All-American. Best passer. He basically had one receiver, and was great runner until he blew out a knee.
    4. Johnny Meek – All-American on the ’37 Thunder Team, the National Champions.
    5. Joe Kapp – Best team leader, fine runner in a run dominated offense, the split T, and carried the Cal team to the Rose Bowl on his back.
    6. Bob Celeri – All-American on Pappy’s ’49 team that went to the Rose Bowl.
    7. Steve Bartkowski – All-American. Best throwing arm ever, fine passer
    8. Aaron Rodgers – Most accurate passer
    9. Pat Barnes
    10. Dave Barr

    Honorable mention: Rich Campbell, Troy Taylor, Fred Besana, Mile Pawlawski, Gale Gilbert, Kyle Boller