Where does Jack Coan rank among Notre Dame’s best ever quarterbacks?


Jack Coan played just one season at Notre Dame, but the Long Island football legend performed at a high enough level to make it a memorable one.

After serving as the starting quarterback for two seasons at Wisconsin, and then missing the 2020 season in Madison due to injury, Coan transferred to play for the Fighting Irish in 2021. In Blue and Gold, Coan was under the microscope of Notre Dame’s huge and demanding fan base.

Passing for 25 touchdowns and over 3,100 yards, Coan guided Notre Dame to an 11-1 regular season record and to the precipice of the College Football Playoffs. At the end of the regular season, the Irish were ranked No. 5, just outside of the four teams that qualified for the post-season tournament.

Playing in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day as consolation, the 2017 Sayville High School graduate tossed five touchdown passes and threw for a Fiesta Bowl record 509 yards in Notre Dame’s 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State.

His head-turning, one-year performance in South Bend was enough to land him tryouts with a half-dozen NFL teams and currently a starting gig with San Antonio in the UFL. But where does his performance for the Irish stand when put up against the many other great quarterbacks in Notre Dame football’s storied history?

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When FanBuzz took a crack at ranking “The Best Notre Dame Quarterbacks Ever” last summer, Coan was not among the 17 players listed. We thought it would be at least interesting to check in with artificial intelligence to flesh out a somewhat more objective list to see if Coan’s name popped up.

And it did.

Asked to “rank Notre Dame’s top 20 quarterbacks of all-time,” the AI writing tool ChatGPT responded with a list that placed Coan at No. 19. Which isn’t too shabby, considering the array of legends who have played under center for Notre Dame over the last century-plus.

Here’s the list in its entirety:

  1. Joe Montana
  2. Brady Quinn
  3. Johnny Lujack
  4. Angelo Bertelli
  5. Terry Hanratty
  6. Paul Hornung
  7. Ron Powlus
  8. Joe Theismann
  9. Jarious Jackson
  10. Rick Mirer
  11. Tommy Rees
  12. Everett Golson
  13. Steve Beuerlein
  14. Tony Rice
  15. Daryle Lamonica
  16. Tom Clements
  17. Deshone Kizer
  18. Brandon Wimbush
  19. Jack Coan
  20. John Huarte

Really no surprise who’s No. 1. Montana was a hero and miracle worker at Notre Dame, leading the team to a national championship as a junior in 1977 before posting a Hall of Fame career with San Fransisco and Kansas City in the NFL.

It does seems a little odd that Coan is ranked above Huarte, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1964 and led the Irish that season to a 9-1 record and a No. 3 finish in the final AP poll under first-year coach Ara Parseghian.

But statistically, Coan’s one year as Notre Dame’s QB1 actually compares favorably to Huarte’s only season as a starter for the Irish. Coan in 2021 threw for over 1,000 more yards than Huarte did in 1964, and the Sayville great’s completion rate was 66 percent, compared to Huarte’s 56 percent.

Coan’s passer rating was 151.8, while Huarte’s was 155.1. But Coan completed 25 touchdown passes, nine more than Huarte’s 16.

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Cone — who is counted among the greatest high school football players in Long Island history — also had a nice turn as Wisconsin’s starting quarterback, leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl during the 2019 season. Coan’s 2,727 passing yards in 2019 ranks third all-time in Wisconsin football history for a single season.

We checked in again with ChatGPT for its “thoughts,” this time on the Badgers historically top quarterbacks. Coan landed in the top 10.

Again, it was no surprise who was No. 1: current Denver Broncos starter Russell Wilson. Here’s how Coan stacked up on the Wisconsin list:

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Brooks Bollinger
  3. Darrell Bevell
  4. Scott Tolzien
  5. Jim Sorgi
  6. Alex Hornibrook
  7. Joel Stave
  8. Jack Coan
  9. John Stocco
  10. Randy Wright

For both ranking queries, ChatGPT offered the disclaimer that ranking top quarterbacks for the two NCAA programs “is a challenging task, as opinions may vary based on individual preferences and criteria. However, here’s an attempt at a subjective ranking, taking into account factors like individual performance, team success, and impact on the program.”

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