AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Among the qualities you’d want from the greatest quarterback in college football history, high on the list would be a strong arm. So this could be a handicap for Leinart if we’re judging by raw tools. All the same, if something like that drops him behind Johnny Lujack or Les Horvath or Vinny Testaverde on the all-time list, it’s likely not to spoil Leinart’s memories of three seasons as the Trojans’ starting quarterback and on-the-field leader. If Leinart might not be the greatest ever – there are a lot of contenders for that distinction, after all – he can console himself with the knowledge that no quarterback ever got as much out of a university career as he has. He’s got those national championships, two according to the Associated Press poll and three if the Trojans beat the Longhorns in Pasadena. He’s got that Heisman Trophy, which puts him in a group with eight others who quarterbacked a national champion and won a Heisman (Lujack, Horvath, Angelo Bertelli, Davey O’Brien, Gino Torretta, Charlie Ward, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Weinke) and puts him in a group with one other who quarterbacked multiple national champions and won a Heisman (Lujack). He’s got a high selection in the NFL Draft to look forward to, and is likely to join three others who quarterbacked a national champion, won a Heisman and went either as the top quarterback in the draft or otherwise in the top 10 picks (Lujack, Horvath, Bertelli). He’s got this 34-game winning streak which, if the Trojans win this week, will match the record for a starting quarterback (set by Chuck Ealy when the Toledo quarterback went 35-0 in 1969-71). He’s got a host of USC and Pac-10 records already, and very likely will end up with the NCAA record for the lowest percentage of passes intercepted in a career. He’s got the iconic, last-minute drive that won the Notre Dame game in October, culminating with his touchdown push through a pack of humanity, a play that made him the hero of every day-after-Thanksgiving shopper at Mervyn’s. He’s got the satisfaction of having helped Reggie Bush to win a Heisman of his own this season. He’s got the benefits of being the most eligible 22-year-old bachelor in L.A. He’s got the much-admired decision to stay in school for his senior season. And before any of that, he’s got one of the nicest back stories in Hollywood, as the cross-eyed kid who grew into an eagle-eyed passer. That’s 10 reasons that Matt Leinart needs to be remembered as the greatest quarterback in college football history about as much as Hugh Hefner needs sainthood. Unless you want to proclaim Leinart the answer to “Who’s the greatest?” just to be a dutiful homer, you have to admit that it’s an unanswerable question. What makes somebody the greatest – being the most talented, or the most honored, or the most valuable to your team? How do you account for the huge differences in the way the game is played from O’Brien’s day to Carson Palmer’s? How do you compare John Elway (incredible skills, but no Heisman and no national title) and Wuerffel (Heisman and national title, but a third-round draft choice)? “There are so many great ones,” Leinart said Sunday. “Elway wasgreat. There’s so many guys who did great in college and the NFL. … It’s definitely an honor if I’m one of the top guys – top 10, top 20, whatever.” No less than Dan Fouts, the prolific San Diego Chargers passer who will be ABC’s analyst for the Rose Bowl, thinks there’s a strong case for Leinart as the top 1. “He’s got to be No. 1,” Fouts said. “When you have a (won-lost) record like has – how else do you judge a quarterback? Hey, Joe Montana’s the greatest quarterback in NFL history – because he has the numbers. It’s all a debate, but I remember from debating that you’ve got to back it up with numbers.” There are two ways of looking at this. From where fans stand – from the outside-in – the question would be whether Leinart entertained us in such a way as to be remembered as the greatest college quarterback ever. From where he stands – from the inside-out – the question would be whether Leinart entertained himself in such a way as to be remembered as the most fulfilled college quarterback ever. The answer to the first question is a definite maybe. The answer to the second is a definite yes. If I were him, I’d rather have the consolation prize. Kevin Modesti’s column appears in the Daily News three days a week. He can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Leinart himself put his credentials in a sling a couple of days ago when, in reminiscing about his days as a Fountain Valley youth-league pitcher, he noted the damage all of those early fastballs did to his left arm. “Now I have a ‘good’ arm, but not a ‘strong’ arm,” Leinart said at a Beverly Hills hotel in one of the news conferences before Wednesday night’s USC-Texas Rose Bowl. “I wish I had my shoulder back.” Matt Leinart probably is not the greatest quarterback in the history of college football. There, I said it. He’s really going to be broken up about this when he hears, huh?