At the start of the 2009 college football season, one frequent topic of debate among college football analysts and fans were exactly where would Florida’s Tim Tebow ranked among the greatest NCAA quarterbacks ever.
Tebow’s numbers were (and still are) remarkable. His ability to will his team to victory is border-line legendary. His Heisman Trophy and two national titles speak for themselves.
But this weekend, another quarterback, one whose neither first nor last name begins with the letter “T,” is in position to become the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history: Colt McCoy.
McCoy is currently tied with Georgia’s David Greene for the record and with a win Saturday against Kansas, will have the top spot to himself.
Perhaps it’s time we start discussing whether McCoy is among the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.
Now, before you fall over in shock, roll over in laughter or let your Gator jaw drop to the floor, give me a brief moment to explain.
Tebow, who won the Heisman in 2007, certainly has an impressive career resume: 8,120 passing yards, 2,641 rushing yards and an eye-popping 132 total touchdowns.
No one blinks an eye when Tebow is mentioned along with all-time greats like Peyton Manning, Jim Plunkett, or John Elway.
Manning finished his career with 11,201 yards passing and 90 touchdowns, Plunkett racked up 7,887 total yards in his career at Stanford in the late '60s, while Elway had 9,349 total passing yards for the Cardinal in the early '80s.
It’s easy to understand why Tebow’s numbers are compared (favorably) to these legends.
So why should we be so hesitant to make similar comparisons about McCoy? For his career, the Texas quarterback has racked up 12,360 passing yards, 945 rushing yards and 122 touchdowns.
Not as big of a difference as you thought, right?
What’s more is that McCoy’s numbers may actually be more impressive than Tebow’s when you consider the fact that he isn’t a running quarterback by nature. For a guy that isn’t called on to run very often, nearly 1,000 career rushing yards and 18 career rushing touchdowns is pretty incredible.
And unlike Tebow, McCoy has been a starter all four years of his collegiate career. Sure, you have to remember that another year as starter could have padded Tebow’s stats even more, but you could also argue that we’ll never know just how Tebow would have reacted to starting as a freshman in Gainesville.
McCoy, on the other hand, was immediately one of the best quarterbacks in the country as a freshman, throwing for over 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns.
But the most important statistic is McCoy’s 42 career wins, a number that would likely still remain above Tebow (31-4), even if he had been given another year as a starter.
Don’t get me wrong, i’m not ready to crown McCoy the best college football quarterback of all time, nor am I trying to say he’s as good of a player as Manning, Plunkett, or Elway.
But, by simply looking at the numbers, it’s hard to explain how an argument could be made for Tebow as one of the best college quarterbacks in history without at least considering a similar argument for McCoy.
Of course, the two things missing in McCoy’s illustrious career are a national championship and a Heisman Trophy—two things Tebow already has earned.
But, as the Longhorns prepare for their second-to-last regular season game this weekend against Kansas, McCoy remains very much in the hunt for both accomplishments.
If Texas goes on to win the BCS title and McCoy prevails among the Heisman candidates, McCoy will have made a compelling argument as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play at the collegiate level.
I may be the first to suggest it, but I highly doubt I’ll be the last.