The Manning Award is presented every season to the nation's top quarterback, as adjudged by the Sugar Bowl Committee, and on Friday, that committee announced its preseason watch list.
Unlike most watch lists, though, the Manning Award's isn't the subjective opinion of those who bestow it. It works in conjunction with ESPN.com's QBR metric, recognizing the 30 college passers with the highest QBRs last season as the inclusions.
Here is the full list:
Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, predictably led the field with a QBR of 90.5. Despite being asked to leave the Manning Passing Academy, he is, in fact, eligible for the eponymous award. In fact, he won it last season and would become the first repeat winner if he does so again this year.
Manziel's QBR gave him a decent buffer above second-place Marcus Mariota (87.3), who himself finished well clear of third-place Tajh Boyd (82.2).
For a little bit of reference, QBR is an all-encompassing efficiency statistic, adjusted for opponents' strength and context within each game (e.g. down and distance, time remaining, score, etc.). It runs on a scale of 1-100, where 50 is average and 100 is perfect.
In the official release of the watch list, ESPN Stats & Information senior director Jeff Bennett said:
Total QBR uses all of a quarterback's plays and accounts for the context of the game and quality of the defenses faced.
We are excited to bring a more complete rating system to the fans to allow for fairer comparisons of quarterbacks who play in different types of systems and face various levels of competition. We're pleased that a national award like the Manning Award has seen the value of our new Total QBR for college.
It's certainly an interesting procedure and a welcome sign of the times. The once-stodgy domain of college football is moving (ever so slowly) toward embracing sabermetrics, much to the delight of statistics nerds—guilty!—across the nation.
The watch list yielded some curious results, too. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, whom many consider to be the top draft prospect in the field, placed just seventh. It's tough to complain about that position, though, considering the quality of all six signal-callers above him.
Texas' David Ash, meanwhile, finished right behind Bridgewater at No. 8. His consistency has been called into question, but the numbers seem to suggest what Mack Brown and Longhorns fans have insisted all offseason; he's capable of leading Texas to the BCS.
Who do you think is ranked too high? Who's too low? Sound off in the comments.