SEC Debate: Which QB would you entrust to lead your team?
Let’s say you’re given the reins to a college football team for one season. You can start your team by choosing any SEC quarterback dating back to 1998, the start of the BCS era. Who do you choose? No matter what, you’re snubbing multiple Heisman winners and multiple national championship-winning signal callers. The choice is not as easy as it seems.
Which is why we thought we’d challenge our SDS staff by posing this hypothetical to each of them. Take a look at how they responded:
Which current or former SEC quarterback (since the start of the BCS era) would you entrust to lead your team for one season?
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS): Tim Tebow
This one’s obvious: Tim Tebow. Not only was he a fantastic facilitator in Urban Meyer’s spread, but he was a motivator of men inside the huddle, a talent few football players possess. The mark of a great player, specifically a quarterback, is finding a guy who can make those around him better and that fits Tebow’s makeup. He was a dynamic runner in short yardage situations and always fought for that extra push.
Christopher Smith (@csmithSDS): Johnny Manziel
He may not have been as good of an all-around college player as Tim Tebow or Cam Newton, who probably is the most logical and sane choice here. Johnny Football certainly isn’t the best NFL quarterback to come out of the SEC during the BCS era, and never will be. But to hell with winning national championships. I’m building my team around can’t-leave-your-seat swag. My team is going to feature the most entertaining offense in the country. We’re going to get enough alumni donations to build a new stadium. Oh, and if I take Manziel, I get Mike Evans as well, right?
Ethan Levine (@ELevineSDS): Cam Newton
For me this decision came down to the two quarterbacks I consider the SEC’s best since 1998: Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. Tebow had the better career, winning a Heisman Trophy and two national titles (only one as the starter), but I’d take Newton in this hypothetical because I’ve seen him have the best single season in recent memory under these very circumstances. Newton arrived at Auburn, assumed the starting job almost immediately, went 14-0 on the season and won the BCS championship and the Heisman all in a span of mere months. Who’s to say he couldn’t do that again? I think he could.
Brett Weisband (@WeisbandSDS): AJ McCarron
If the goal is to win championships, why not pick the guy who did nothing but win in college? If you want to win one game, the other guys chosen here — Newton, Manziel, Tebow — are all excellent options, and of course two of them won national titles. None were able to sustain the level of success that McCarron had over his career. As a coach, you can trust him to make sound decisions all over the field and, most importantly if you’re in a big game, avoid critical mistakes. That’s not to say McCarron was strictly a game manager — he has plenty of on-the-money throws that say otherwise. No, he’s not a game-breaker who will put up gaudy stats, but McCarron is as good as any if you want to build a team from scratch. Winning means very little in how you evaluate most positions, but quarterback is the one exception.
Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Cam Newton
While I love Tim Tebow and highly respect his incredible career (the best career of any player during the BCS era), give me the SEC’s best overall player during the BCS era: Cam Newton. To think both players were on the same team at Florida is absolutely nuts. Newton had everything you want in a quarterback, and to have him for three seasons or a career would be a pipe dream. Give me the 6-5, 245-pound freak leading my team. We know he had all the physical tools, but he also had the intangibles and the leadership. He had that ability to make his teammates better. Think about it: Newton led the Tigers to a BCS Championship under Gene Chizik with only one great defensive player in Nick Fairley. That tells you all you need to know.