"He's just a winner."
We've all heard it before.
In the months leading up this year's NFL draft, it was the phrase we had drilled into our heads ad nauseum as commentators and analysts heaped praise on both Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy for their ability to win at the collegiate level.
"He's a winner."
"All he does is win."
"There's no doubting his capability to win."
"He puts up the Ws."
"That guy, he's a winner."
"He wills his team to victory."
Yes, it was certainly said in a variety of different manners, but the point trying to be conveyed still remained the same.
It seemed like one of the only reasons the experts could muster up as to why these young men, who were both obviously lacking in many of the traits needed to be a solid quarterback at the professional level, would somehow still be successful.
They knew how to win. It was plain and simple.
We got the point.
But what does that mean exactly?
Yes, the two sure won their fair share of ball games during their careers, but let's put it into proper context.
They were piling up those wins at two of the powerhouse programs in the nation, Florida and Texas. Schools that have a rich history and tradition of dominating the college football landscape. They're two teams that are routinely so loaded with talent and expectations, that anything short of a double digit win season is considered a failure.
It's not as if they were doing something out of the ordinary. In fact, both Texas and Florida had each enjoyed National Champinships seasons just prior to McCoy and Tebow taking over as starting quarterbacks.
You can't make the case that either Colt nor Tim was taking their program to new heights. It's not as if they were elevating their squads during their tenure, they were simply keeping the winning traditions going.
So can we really reward these two for doing something so routine?
Wasn't it just a few years ago when we were throwing around this same kind of reasoning to try and convince ourselves that Matt Leinart would be a great professional quarterback?
I remember reading the scouting reports. The first line is still etched in my brain, Matt Leinart is the consummate winner.
Yes, Matt enjoyed great success at USC during his career, but like Tebow and McCoy, he also enjoyed the benefit of great talent surrounding him. In fact, it was a concern that raised some eyebrows and one that has proved to be viable as Leinart has yet to replicate his college success at the NFL level.
With all the superior talent at these programs, it's going to take a pretty lousy quarterback for the team not to be successful. There's a reason teams such as USC, Florida, Texas, and Ohio State are in the top 10 year after year regardless of who is behind center.
Heck, Craig Krenzel was able to do it, Ken Dorsey was able to do it. It's a simple task that's asked of them, don't screw things up.
Get the ball in the hands of your playmakers and don't make crucial mistakes at inopportune times.
Would Florida have been that much worse of a team without Tim Tebow? Many of the prognosticators would say yes, but I'm not so sure.
If that second actually had ticked off the clock in the Big 12 Championship Game, is Colt McCoy still considered a "great winner" or is he simply the goat?
If John Brantley and Garrett Gilbert continue the success at Florida and Texas should they be considered great or are they helping to repeat the vicious cycle of overvaluing quarterbacks at powerhouse programs?
I'm not saying Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy weren't terrific players in college, all I'm saying is we need to realize that in football, the ultimate team sport, we need to slow down on putting the achievements of a team squarely on one player's shoulders.
Drawing the line as to whether the quarterback is making the team great or the team is making the quarterback great can be a tough proposition. It may be the reason we see so many quarterbacks from top programs fail to replicate their collegiate success in the NFL.
There's a difference between being a "winner" and simply being a player on a team that wins.
Yes, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy were "just winners" at the college level but will that be enough to get them over the hump in the NFL?