With Alabama closing in on its third BCS title in a row and fourth in five years, it’s time to start thinking about the legacy that quarterback AJ McCarron will leave behind.
Sports Illustrated got a jump on the topic, as they plastered the senior on the cover of this week’s edition:
Update: Thursday, 9:27 a.m. ET
Head coach Nick Saban was asked about his comments. His response was nothing more than classic Saban:
--END OF UPDATE--
SI’s executive editor L. Jon Wertheim penned the story, making it clear how he feels from the get go, via SI.com:
McCarron might be almost as well known for his arm candy as his arm strength, his body ink as his body of work. But let’s be clear: He’s not just one of the great Alabama quarterbacks. AJ McCarron is on the short list of the most successful players in the history of college football. Even if not many think of him that way.
It’s hard to disagree with Wertheim.
Over his illustrious five-year career at Tuscaloosa, McCarron has thrown for 8,184 yards, 70 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 66.7 percent passing. He has broken several school records, including most career passing yards, most career touchdown passes and most touchdown passes in a season.
But most impressively, McCarron has more national championship rings in his locker (three) than losses as a starter (two).
Even if the Tide were to fall short of a third consecutive BCS title this year, how does the Mobile, Ala. native not belong among the likes of Red Grange, Barry Sanders and Herschel Walker as one of the greatest college football players to ever play the game?
It’s a shame that McCarron won’t even be recognized as the most outstanding player of his time.
Although he may be listed among the top contenders on ESPN’s latest Heisman Watch, McCarron boasts no real threat to win the award over competition that includes: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.
Sure, he may not party with celebrities in his downtime, show off to teammates during practice or rely on his legs to pad his stats. But McCarron has done one thing all three of those players have yet to do: win when it counts.
But what really sets McCarron apart for his peers is his humility and selflessness.
Don’t expect him to get caught up in the hype:
However, as Auburn fans are quick to point out, the timing of the cover couldn’t come at a worse time:
AJ McCarron's on SI this week; reminds me of Brodie Croyle prior to the '05 Iron Bowl. How did that one turn out? pic.twitter.com/ZQ4hiTqYKC— Trey Crittenden (@CrittendenAU) November 20, 2013
The Tide and Tigers are set to clash at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Nov. 30. Not only will the SEC West crown be on the line but also a berth into the BCS title game.
Is McCarron the greatest QB to play college football?
It would be foolish not to expect Auburn’s first-year head coach Gus Malzahn to use the issue as motivation for his team.
Then again, McCarron has grown used to it over the years.
What bigger motivation can there be then going up against the two-time defending national champion and winner of 35 of his career 37 starts?
This is a quarterback that has grown accustomed to playing with a target on his back. And more often than not, McCarron has come away the victor.
It’s going to take a lot more than a simple magazine cover to change that.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.