When the subject of college conferences and their football prowess is mentioned, it’s the Southeastern Conference (SEC) that’s often mentioned atop the list. Since the SEC generally recruits better than other conferences, dominating the rankings, thus the NFL draft is loaded with its players.
How has this translated into Super Bowl MVP winners? Take a look at the leading conferences in that regard, noting the rankings have schools listed by a conference at the time of a player’s award, regardless if the school has “transferred” elsewhere.
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1. Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
With two Super Bowl MVPs to its credit, it’s not prominent. Safety Dexter Jackson, part of Florida St.’s Golden Age in the late 1990s, earned the award with the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII after two interceptions. Hall of Famer Randy White, out of Maryland, is the other name on the list, He was co-MVP of Super Bowl XII (with Harvey Martin) as the Cowboys mauled the Broncos. Footnotes here in that Maryland ditched the ACC and is now in the Big Ten, while another Florida St. Seminole, Fred Biletnikoff, was MVP (Super Bowl XI), but the school was an independent at the time. It wasn’t affiliated when Otis Anderson (Super Bowl XXV) won his award and was a member of the Big East when Ray Lewis (Super Bowl XXXV) was the winner.
2. Big 12
The Big 12’s Super Bowl MVP winners include linebacker Von Miller (Super Bowl 50) out of Texas A&M before the Aggies moved to the SEC, and former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Super Bowl LV) Quarterback Troy Aikman (Super Bowl XXVII) started his career at Oklahoma, then finished at UCLA, thus not included. Players concluding their careers within the Big 12 include Larry Brown (Super Bowl XXX), at TCU when the Horned Frogs participated in the SWC, now in the Big 12. Linebacker Chuck Howley (Super Bowl V) starred at West Virginia when the Mountaineers were independent while running back John Riggins (Super Bowl XVII) made his mark in Lawrence, Kansas when the Jayhawks competed in the pre-Big 12 Big 8.
3. Big Ten
With eight Super Bowl MVPs in their history, including five by former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady. Desmond Howard (Super Bowl XXXI) is another ex-Wolverine winner, while quarterbacks Len Dawson (Super Bowl IV) and Drew Brees (Super Bowl XLIV) both represented the Purdue Boilermakers.
Forever a legend.
Congratulations, @TomBrady. pic.twitter.com/MWLOGShcEC
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 1, 2023
The Pac 12 conference (formerly the Pac-8 and Pac-10) has a total of nine Super Bowl MVPs, predominantly at quarterback. In no particular order, California’s Aaron Rodgers (Super Bowl XLV), John Elway of Stanford (Super Bowl XXXIII), the aforementioned Troy Aikman (Super Bowl XXVIII), who concluded his college career at UCLA, also Stanford’s Jim Plunkett (Super Bowl XV). In the sub-category of non-quarterbacks, ex-USC wide receiver Lynn Swann (Super Bowl X) and former Trojan tailback Marcus Allen (Super Bowl XVIII) lead that list.
5. Southeastern Conference (SEC)
There was a head start in the SEC, as the first three of these awards went to former Alabama quarterbacks, Bart Starr (Super Bowls I and II) and Joe Namath (Super Bowl III) began the barrage. Safety Jake Scott of Georgia (Super Bowl VII), running back Terrell Davis (Super Bowl XXXII) and wide receiver Hines Ward (Super Bowl XL) represented the Georgia Bulldogs. The Quarterback Brothers Manning-Tennesse’s Peyton (Super Bowl XLI) and Mississippi’s Eli (Super Bowls XLII and XLVI)-added to this list, as did former Florida Gator running back Emmitt Smith (Super Bowl XXVIII). All in all, a conference-leading 10 Super Bowl MVP awards.
Those non-affiliated schools (at time of player’s win) actually lead the list, with 12 winners. Quarterback Joe Montana of Notre Dame has 25 percent of that hardware (Super Bowls XVI, XIX and XXIV), while quarterback Roger Staubach (Super Bowl VI) also won the Heisman at the Naval Academy. Syracuse running back Larry Csonka (Super Bowl VIII) and Franco Harris (Super Bowl IX), former Penn St. rusher, won in consecutive seasons.
Also, “lesser-level” programs were represented with Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw (Super Bowls XIII and XIV), Mississippi Valley wide receiver Jerry Rice (Super Bowl XXIII), quarterback Phil Simms of Morehead St. (Super Bowl XX), Tennessee St. defensive end Richard Dent (Super Bowl XX) and Grambling quarterback Doug Williams (Super Bowl XXII).