On a straight news level, it's hard to know just how much to make of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' signing of quarterback Brian Brohm. The former Louisville pivot's signing was first reported by CardinalConnect.com Tuesday and passed along by Drew Edwards, then backed by a CP source, and Brohm himself later confirmed it on his Twitter account. Brohm's well-known from his time in the NCAA, the NFL and the UFL, but the past history of big-name QBs indicates he's far from a lock to succeed north of the border. His future performance depends on exactly how much of an opportunity he gets, and that's tough to predict at the moment; it's possible he might be the eventual successor to Henry Burris, in which case this is an incredibly notable moment, but it's far more likely that he'll follow the path of most QBs who come north, stick around for a few seasons as a backup and leave without making a major impact.
Brohm's signing does stand out in one way, though: it gives the Tiger-Cats an incredible collection of quarterbacks who will be recognized by NFL and NCAA fans. That's not necessarily a good thing. The Tiger-Cats now have Burris, Brohm, Dan LeFevour and Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback, and all of those players had notable failures south of the border. Here's a breakdown of each player:
NCAA career: Four years at Temple University, finished with 20 passing records
NFL career: Undrafted in 1997, went to the CFL for four years with the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders, signed with Green Bay in 2001, was released and sent to their practice squad midyear, signed by Chicago in 2002, struggled there and was assigned to NFL Europe before he returned to the CFL in 2003.
Southern infamy: Burris started six games for the Bears in 2002, completing 18 of 51 passes (35.3 per cent) for 207 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. One writer even called him the worst player in Bears' history. That might be a slight exaggeration, but he's on the list.
Northern tenure: Burris has had a very good CFL career, winning two Grey Cups (1998 as a backup, 2008 as a starter), a Grey Cup MVP (2008) and a Most Outstanding Player award (2010). He's still playing at a high level and had a strong argument for MOP last year. He'll likely be the Tiger-Cats' starter again this season.
Northern embarrassment: This.
NCAA career: Starred at Central Michigan for four years, only NCAA player in history with 12,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards, holds tons of Mid-American Conference records
NFL career: Selected by the Bears (sensing a pattern here!) in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft, 181st overall. Chicago released him after the preseason, Cincinnati picked him up, and he bounced around to Indianapolis and Jacksonville before heading to Canada in 2012.
Southern infamy: Completed just 19 of 41 passes (46.3 per cent) during the 2010 preseason with the Bears, throwing for 204 yards, one touchdown and one pick while being sacked six times and running for just 38 yards. Not entirely surprising that he didn't get more of an NFL look after that.
Northern tenure: Was with Hamilton last season.
Northern embarrassment: Has not yet recorded a CFL stat. (That's not all that uncommon for a first-year quarterback, but it is still the most embarrassing thing about his CFL career thus far.)
NCAA career: Started at the City College of San Francisco, transferred to Oregon in 2008, emerged as the starter that year, helped the Ducks win the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) in 2009 and go to the Rose Bowl, but following offseason controversy (see below!), left school, transferred to Ole Miss amidst more controversy, did moderately well there.
NFL career: Undrafted in 2011, signed with the 49ers that July, released that August, went to the UFL before heading to Canada in 2012.
Southern infamy: Where to start? There's the three months he spent in juvenile dentention in 2005 for participating in robberies, his 2010 guilty plea to another charge of second-degree burglary (which eventually led to him receiving 12 months of probation and being suspended for a year by Oregon, causing him to leave the school and go to Ole Miss. (Update: See this Sports Illustrated piece for Masoli's side of those events.) At Ole Miss, he was surprisingly ruled immediately eligible thanks to enrolling in a Parks And Recreation graduate studies program (which literally sounds like the best program ever). He didn't really live up to the hype there, though, and only looked like a moderately compelling CFL prospect when the Eskimos first started talking about him in 2011. Also, while at Oregon, he was involved in this:
[Hat-tip there to Yahoo!'s Evan Doherty.]
NCAA career: Shone for the Louisville Cardinals from 2004-2007 (competing against future CFL pivot Stefan LeFors in his first year!) and earned plenty of honours, including Big East Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 and Orange Bowl MVP in 2007.
NFL career: Brohm was taken in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft by Green Bay, 56th overall. He only lasted there until 2009, though, then was signed off their practice squad by the Bills. He didn't do much in Buffalo and wasn't resigned before 2011, when he went to the UFL, where he mostly backed up Chase Clement (one of the Blue Bombers' new QBs!).
Southern infamy: Brohm never recorded a stat in Green Bay, somewhat surprising for a second-round draft pick, and he didn't remedy that in Buffalo. His NFL career is mostly so disappointing because he was such a prominent college player and a high draft pick, though. He has been cited as one of the Packers' worst draft busts in decades.
Northern tenure: Just started it.
Northern embarrassment: None so far! So that at least is a point in his favour.
For all the easy-to-make jokes about the Tiger-Cats' quarterback collection, it might not work out all that poorly. NFL and NCAA failures really don't mean much up here, as Burris has shown; he's had a great CFL career overall, and may well continue that this season. The other guys haven't done anything notable north of the border yet, but may yet be able to follow Burris' path, and infamy isn't all bad; these guys were good enough at one point to get in whatever position didn't eventually work out for them, and that's saying something (especially considering that many successful CFL quarterbacks were never really notable south of the border). The Tiger-Cats' assemblage of formerly-prominent NCAA and NFL quarterbacks is quite interesting, though, and it's definitely different. We'll see if it works out for them.