Alabama junior quarterback AJ McCarron is on the verge of doing what very few have done in the history of college football. If the Tide can topple top-ranked and unbeaten Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game, McCarron will have led his team to back-to-back national titles.
At many schools, such an achievement would qualify him for a statue on the front steps of the stadium. At Alabama, this is not the case.
Would another title win bring with it the honor of being labeled as the best Tide quarterback of all time? Not just yet.
At a school that has produced such names as Starr, Namath, Todd, Sloan, Stabler, Barker and McElroy, clearly and accurately establishing the best of the bunch is tricky.
The biggest problem is the differences in style of play over the years. For example, Alabama great Kenny Stabler had only 38 more pass attempts in his career than he did rushing attempts.
Even though Steve Sloan also won two national titles as 'Bama quarterback, McCarron has thrown more passes this season than Sloan did in his entire Alabama career.
Many years of running the wishbone offense practically wiped out many of the Tide greats.
To look at this on a purely statistical basis is like trying to compare the greatness of Wilt Chamberlain to that of Tim Duncan. In totally different eras of the sport, you just can't do it effectively or fairly.
That said, if this were solely based on statistics, McCarron would be practically impossible to argue against.
AJ already holds a number of "Bama passing records and is sure to set many more now that he has announced his return for the 2013 season.
The only fair comparison among worthy candidates statistically is with Greg McElroy. Both have to this point have played two seasons as the Alabama starter.
McCarron has 45 touchdowns to just eight interceptions while McElroy had 37 and nine, respectively.
McCarron is completing just under 67 percent of his passes. McElroy hit on just under 66 percent of his even though he completed a whopping 70 percent in his senior year.
McElroy does have right at 200 more passing yards than AJ, but McCarron has one game left.
If we want to look at win/loss records, McCarron does not have as solid of an advantage over his counterparts.
By record, Jay Barker has the best mark at 35-2-1 as a starter. McElroy went 24-3 and McCarron to date is 24-2. AJ would have to win the title over Notre Dame and then start next season 10-0 to have the edge over Barker.
Another thing to look at is talent. For example, McElroy and McCarron have been a part of arguably the best offenses Alabama has ever had. After all, neither of them have played on a team that scores less than 32 points per game.
With all due respect to Derrick Lassic and Sherman Williams (Barker's running backs), they had nothing on Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
Finally, it is important to consider how long the candidates stayed at Alabama. Both Barker and McElroy played out their entire eligibility. McCarron will too. And after he does, this story will be written with a different outcome.
Look, AJ McCarron is very likely, if not a given, to go down in Alabama folklore as the best quarterback that the Tide has ever seen.
When his days at the Capstone are done, he will hold most of the schools career passing records. That does not make him the best, though.
McCarron is also likely to leave Alabama with the most victories and has a very good chance to be the only three-time national title winner in the history of the sport. This does not make him the best, though.
If AJ goes down in history as the best Alabama has ever seen at quarterback, it will be the combination of it all. The statistics, the wins, the titles, the leadership and the fact that he played out his eligibility all together will be the complete package that puts him over the top.
I have no doubt that McCarron will do it. But to place that burden on his back at this time would be unfair to him and unfair to the men that came before him.
Let the kid finish his career before we start exalting him as the greatest ever. Let's allow him to write the book. When it is finished, we can work out the details amongst ourselves.
All in time, my friends.