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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Mike Pawlawski, California Golden Bears
Mike Pawlawski, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Mike Pawlawski spent four years playing on the gridiron in Berkley in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After backing up Troy Taylor for his first two years in school, Pawlawski would take over the reins in 1990 as a junior. Having big shoes to replace one of the most prolific passers in Cal history, I’d say Pawlawski did just fine in that attempt during his two years as the starter.

In 1990, Pawlawski completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,069 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cal went 7-4-1 during his first year as a starter, defeating the Wyoming Cowboys in the Copper Bowl. Big things were in store for Pawlawski and the Golden Bears in 1991.

During his senior season, Pawlawski helped guide Cal to a 10-2 finish. Though they didn’t win the Pac-10 that year, the Golden Bears would defeat the Clemson Tigers in the Citrus Bowl to finish as the No. 8 team in the country in the final AP Poll. Winning two bowl games and nearly averaging nine wins as a starter helped Pawlawski cement a strong legacy at Cal.

And with winning came great statistics in 1991 for the Golden Bears quarterback. Pawlawski completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,517 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He was named Co-Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year alongside Washington Huskies wide receiver Mario Bailey. Keep in mind that Washington won the national title that year. Cal’s only losses that year were to the Huskies at home and No. 21 Stanford on the road.

After being an eighth-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1992 NFL Draft, Pawlawski would spend the next two seasons out of football before entering the Arena Football League. He would have great success with the Albany Firebirds before joining the XFL’s San Francisco Demons in 2001. Pawlawski would suffer a career-ending neck injury in 2001. He now has a show on the Outdoor Channel in Gridiron Outdoors and serves as a color commentator for Cal football.

In four years at Cal, Pawlawski completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 4,779 yards, 38 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Though his lack of career yardage totals hurt him, he is ninth all time in Cal touchdown passes, as well as in the top 10 all time in yards per attempt, completion percentage and passing efficiency rating (min. 300 attempts). He’d be higher up on this list if he had a third season as the Cal starting quarterback for sure.