Many schools boast of tradition. But none can match Purdue's tradition of turning out top-flight quarterbacks.
The Cradle of Quarterbacks has evolved over the last half century as a defining feature of Purdue football. Boilermakers have set numerous NCAA and Big Ten Conference records, many have been chosen as All-Americans and national awards winners or finalists. Three have been selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame (Bob Griese, Mike Phipps and Mark Herrmann), and two are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Griese and Len Dawson).
Fifteen former Purdue signal-callers have gone on to play in the National Football League, accumulating more starts and throwing more touchdown passes than those from any other school.
And with Drew Brees, Dawson and Griese as Super Bowl champion quarterbacks, Purdue is one of just two universities that can claim three Super Bowl champs at the position. (The other is Alabama with Bart Starr, Ken Stabler and Joe Namath.)
The Cradle of Quarterbacks tradition started with Bob DeMoss, who gained fame as a freshman by leading the 1945 Boilermakers to an upset of fourth-ranked Ohio State in Columbus. DeMoss went on to be Purdue's primary quarterback through 1948.
After one season playing in the NFL for the New York Bulldogs, DeMoss returned to his alma mater as quarterbacks coach from 1950 to 1969 before becoming head coach in 1970, the last signal-caller to do so before current head coach Jeff Brohm. Along the way, DeMoss recruited and developed many members of the Cradle: Dale Samuels, Dawson, Griese, Phipps and Gary Danielson.
Herrmann set NCAA career records for passing attempts, completions and yards, as well as total offense - becoming the first quarterback in NCAA history to throw for 8,000 yards and subsequently the first to throw for 9,000 yards - from 1977 to 1980.
Later in the 1980s, Scott Campbell and Jim Everett became Cradle members and after coach Joe Tiller brought the spread offense to Purdue in 1997, Brees, Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter joined the exclusive club.
The term Cradle of Quarterbacks has been trademarked by Purdue to create a lasting tradition that epitomizes Boilermaker football.
In recognition of this heritage and with help from thousands of on-line voters, Purdue Athletics, in conjunction with "Gold & Black Illustrated" and the Office of Trademark Licensing, selected the Boilermakers' top 12 quarterbacks of all-time in the summer of 2010 from a list of 31 multiple-time starters. A different quarterback was highlighted each week of the season.
To commemorate the year-long celebration, Purdue created a line of products featuring the 12 quarterbacks. Proceeds from the sale of products benefited the 12th Boiler Scholarship Fund, which raised money through the John Purdue Club to endow a Boilermaker football scholarship.
CRADLE OF QUARTERBACKS
Drew Brees, 1997-2000
Scott Campbell, 1980-83
Gary Danielson, 1970-72
Len Dawson, 1954-56
Bob DeMoss, 1945-48
Jim Everett, 1981-85
Bob Griese, 1964-66
Mark Herrmann, 1977-80
Kyle Orton, 2001-04
Curtis Painter, 2005-08
Mike Phipps, 1967-69
Dale Samuels, 1950-52
In the early 1970s, Purdue Athletics commissioned a university artist named Keith Butz to create a poster featuring outstanding Boilermaker quarterbacks of the previous 30 years. That poster featured Bob DeMoss, Dale Samuels, Len Dawson, Bernie Allen, Bob Griese, Mike Phipps and Gary Danielson.
The reference to Cradle of Quarterbacks was added in the late 1970s when the poster was updated to include Mark Herrmann ... then again in the mid-1980s when Scott Campbell and Jim Everett were added ... and again in picture form in the late 1990s to include Eric Hunter, Billy Dicken and Drew Brees.