Cal football: 15 greatest quarterbacks in Golden Bears history

Jared Goff, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Jared Goff, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /
10 of 15
Pat Barnes, California Golden Bears
Pat Barnes, California Golden Bears. Mandatory Credit: David Taylor/Allsport /

Pat Barnes first came to Cal in 1993, serving as a backup to Dave Barr as a freshman. He would play on Keith Gilbertson’s team for three seasons before former Golden Bears offensive coordinator Steve Mariucci came back to coach him in his excellent senior season in 1996.

Barnes played sparingly during his first two years. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he backed up Barr in both years, who was one of the better quarterbacks in the history of Cal football up to that point. In 17 games as an underclassman, Barnes didn’t throw for 1,000 combined yards and have more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes (three). Fortunately, great things were on the horizon for him at Berkley in his junior and senior seasons.

In 1995, Barnes won the starting job for the Golden Bears. He completed 54.4 percent of his passes for 2,685 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Barnes averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and boasted a 126.1 passing efficiency rating. However, Cal would only go 3-8 during Gilbertson’s last season as the Golden Bears head coach.

Enter Mariucci. Barnes had a dominating senior season for a bowl-bound Golden Bears team. Though Cal only went 6-6 that fall, Barnes completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 3,499 yards, a ridiculous 31 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. Barnes averaged a solid 8.3 yards per attempt and put together a strong 150.1 passing efficiency rating during his senior season.

His 31 touchdowns in a season would stand as a Pac-10 record. He would be named a Second-Team All-American in 1996 behind only future College Football Hall of Famer Jake Plummer of the Arizona State Sun Devils. Barnes would be a fourth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1997 NFL Draft. He spent the next seven football seasons with seven different franchises including the Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In four years at Cal, Barnes completed 57.2 percent of his passes for 7,047 yards, 51 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Barnes ranks in the top five all time at Cal in passing yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt (min. 300) and passing efficiency rating. Being arguably the second-best quarterback in college football during the 1996 campaign is a big reason Barnes finds himself almost cracking the top five greatest Golden Bears quarterbacks of all time.