While the Big 12 started off as a running league, there isn't any doubt that it has evolved into one of the top leagues for elite quarterbacks. In the conference era, the league has produced four Heisman-winning quarterbacks and a number of runners up. Three quarterbacks have led their team to national championships.
So who is the best of that group? We'll take a stab at it below.
First Team: Vince Young, Texas
What sets Young apart? He was one of only three Big 12 quarterbacks to pilot a Big 12 team to the national title, along with Nebraska's Scott Frost and Oklahoma's Josh Heupel. He was the first FBS quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. How many "rush-first" quarterbacks finish in the top five in passer efficiency? Most of all, his indomitable will to win allowed him to go 30-2 as a starter and pushed an excellent Texas program into the pantheon of national champions when he rushed for 200 yards and threw for 267 more against USC in the Rose Bowl.
Too high? Here's the case for Griffin: a quarterback who was mobile enough to rank among the Big 12's rushing leaders as a freshman, who finished second in passer rating as a junior behind the current NCAA record holder. Griffin left Baylor after winning the Heisman Trophy, completing 72.4 percent of his passes for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He ran for 699 yards to boot, and led Baylor — I repeat, Baylor — to a 10-win season.
Third Team: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
The Big 12's second-best Heisman winning quarterback to Griffin, Bradford completed 68 percent of his passes for 4,721 yards and 50 touchdowns to eight interceptions in leading the Sooners to the BCS National Championship Game. That he didn't get a chance to follow up on that season was a tragedy, but it shouldn't detract from what he was able to accomplish, throwing for 86 touchdowns to 16 interceptions in his first two years as a starter. Bradford is still the FBS record holder for career passer efficiency.
Honorable Mention: Colt McCoy, Texas
McCoy left Texas as the all-time winningest quarterback in college football history, a mark recently passed by Boise State's Kellen Moore. And his 76.7 percent completion rate in 2008 still stands as the FBS mark. But the first stat is more important here, in that McCoy was a winner. He was arguably a dropped interception away from playing in two BCS title games, and if he weren't hurt in the 2009 contest, it might have gone Texas's way.