When you talk about the elite quarterbacks of the BCS era, you think of guys like Tim Tebow, Vince Young and Cam Newton.
However, if Alabama is able to win the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 over No. 1 Notre Dame, you'll have to add another name to that list whether you want to or not.
Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron.
The same guy that has been unfairly labeled as a "game-manager" is 60 minutes away from becoming the only starting quarterback in the BCS era to lead his team to back-to-back national championships.
So where would a second title put McCarron in the discussion of top quarterbacks in the modern era?
Without the Heisman or the video game numbers on his resume, he wouldn't be considered an elite quarterback even if he hoists the crystal football on Jan. 7 in Miami.
Fair or not—and it's not—McCarron has been labeled as a game manager due to his team's scheme of winning by running the ball and playing defense. However, the redshirt junior has a big arm. Furthermore, to his credit, he has scaled back his gunslinger mentality for the greater good of his team.
He has been let loose in key situations, including Alabama's last two games of last season—in the win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl and the win over LSU in the BCS National Championship Game. His 234-yard performance against LSU earned him offensive MVP honors in the title game, and showed that he is fully capable of winning on the big stage with the game in his hands.
Is AJ McCarron one of the top quarterbacks of the BCS era?
He was in the Heisman Trophy discussion into November, but it doesn't say a lot about the quarterback that his "Heisman moment" was a screen pass—the game-winning touchdown to T.J. Yeldon against LSU. Since then, McCarron has thrown three interceptions and looked average at best over the last month of the season.
All of that doesn't matter, though. McCarron is a winner, and that's the ultimate goal for any player, regardless of position.
If McCarron can lead his team to its second title in his second year as the starting quarterback, he would be a legend. Great quarterbacks don't have to throw for 3,000 yards to be considered elite. Playing within their respective systems and being smart with the football is the biggest responsibility for any quarterback.
A win on Jan. 7 would solidify McCarron as one of the top quarterbacks of the modern era, even if he is still viewed as a "game-manager."