When Joe Tessitore speaks, people in the business of college football tend to listen. Often enough they have no choice; he is the all-seeing, all-knowing voice from the broadcast booth calling the play-by-play for some of college’s most watched games. He is on the Heisman panel and his presence in recent years has been hailed by underdogs as an omen to upset.
Since 2010, Tessitore’s voice has been behind the play for three of the game’s most awe-inspiring wins that were never supposed to happen: Nevada’s 34-31 overtime upset against the then undefeated Boise State Broncos, Baylor’s 45-38 shocker over No.5 Oklahoma, and the game touted by experts as one of the craziest ever-played, Iowa State’s 37-31 double overtime edging of Oklahoma State.
Crazy things can happen when Joe gets on the mic. Playboy.com had the opportunity to sit down with the ten year ESPN veteran to get his thoughts on the upcoming BCS bowls and the top prospects potentially coming out of the NCAA this year.
Playboy.com: What can we expect out of this year’s draft?
Joe Tessitore: We're about to have one of the best drafts in years if all these guys opt for the NFL, particularly at the quarterback position. I’ve had the opportunity to call a couple of Baylor games this year and see [Heisman winner] Robert Griffin III in action. I’ve met Matt Barkley a few times, I’ve got to know Andrew Luck through the years. I think it is one of the better groups coming out at that position in terms of being NFL ready.
So all the hype around a guy like Andrew Luck is warranted?
Luck is in so many ways the most pro ready quarterback on the board. When you stand next to Andrew Luck you know you are standing next to a professional athlete. He looks the part. Then you see what he does in a game; he’s not playing in a wide-open spread offense with gawdy and glossy stats. He is playing a professional pro-set offense. He is making audibles, he is checking downs, he is putting his team into better plays and field position. He has taken a Stanford team with not a whole lot of speed on the perimeter to 23 wins against only two losses in two years and has them contending for BCS titles. He is really all that. You can't overhype the guy. He is as close to a can’t miss as you can get.
But not a Heisman Winner?
There is a difference between being the number one pro prospect and being the Heisman winner. The trophy is this very elite collegiate thing that happens. It’s the perfect storm of something that happened over a twelve game season. It has nothing to do with being the number one overall prospect. Luck has been back-to-back runner-ups for the Heisman but hes always been the number one pro prospect since he started his collegiate career.
So if Luck is hands down the number one prospect, where does this year's Heisman winner Robert Griffin III or USC's Matt Barkley fit in terms of the draft and the NFL?
I love both of these guys a lot in terms of pro-ready prospects.
Athletically, RG3 is truly world class. You’re talking about a guy who when he prepares to run, when he is in track mode, might be the fastest player in the NFL, a guy with Chris Johnson-type speed. For Barkley, he plays college football as if he were a well experienced pro. The game slows down for him. The one thing they have in common is that they're both mature beyond their years. Barkley is a very disciplined and giving; Griffin is engaged, he is fearless. They are both very impressive individuals.
Where do they fit? Well, if guys like Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all went among the first 12 picks in last year's draft then Matt Barkley and RG3 should not go below 12. They are a few notches above those guys.
Barkley and Griffin both have at least another year of eligibility in the NCAA. What are the odds they stay with their collegiate teams? What are the pros/cons of going pro early?
I think it has been proven. You have your Bill Parcells, your long time head coaches who have always advocated experience and proven ability at the college level leads to wins in the NFL. They want a proven winner in college, literally a guy who wins games. That said, The NFL is more willing to play a young quarterback these days and you’re seeing success with that more and more. Look at Andy Dalton; he is not a guy who is blessed with great measurables or the strongest arm or an amazing amount a speed. He is a guy that played four years at TCU, won, was mature, gained experience and that transferred over to the NFL and look what hes already done with the Bengals.
Barkely in his freshman year on the road against Oklahoma took USC on an 86 yard drive. RG3 did the same thing in opening week against TCU. Barkley showed it again this year against Stanford and Oregon. A lot of praise is given to combine numbers, but this is what NFL guys really like to see: a proven ability to win when it matters most.