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) /
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California Golden Bears
California Golden Bears. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Rich Campbell spent his four-year college career at Berkley in the late 1970s. The signal-caller from San José first came to Cal in 1977, where he played sparingly as a freshman. Two years after the late Joe Roth’s unbelievably sad passing, Cal was looking for a new quarterback to lead the way. After Roth, Vince Ferragamo and Steve Bartkowski held the starting job, Campbell certainly had his work cut out for him.

Campbell took over as Cal’s starting quarterback as a sophomore in 1978. He completed 56.0 percent of his passes for 2,287 yards, 14 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Cal went 6-5 during the first year of the Pac-10 after the additions of Arizona and Arizona State to the conference under head coach Roger Theder.

While Cal was only slightly better as a team in 1979 than in 1978 by going 6-6 and making it to a bowl game, Campbell certainly progressed as a passer in year two as the starter. He completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,859 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Big things were surely in store for Campbell entering his senior year in 1980.

As a senior, Campbell and the Cal program did not live up to expectations. The team went 3-8 and Campbell’s play certainly regressed. While he completed 70.7 percent of his passes, he only threw for 2,026 yards for six touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Campbell finished his Cal career with a 64.5 completion percentage for 7,174 yards, 35 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.

After an All-American campaign for Cal in 1980, Campbell would go on to be the No. 6 pick in the 1981 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. Despite having huge expectations professionally, Campbell did go to a Packers team that was largely terrible in the 1980s. He only played four years there and didn’t make much of an impact. Campbell would be traded to the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1985, but never played for the Silver and Black.

Besides being a former first-round pick and an All-American, there are several reasons Campbell cracks the Mount Rushmore in Cal quarterbacking history. He is fourth all time in both passing yards and completions, as well as 12th in touchdown passes. What gives him a boost is that he’s the most accurate passer in Cal history, as well as in the top five in both yards per attempt at 7.7 and passing efficiency rating (min. 300 attempts) at 132.7.