What requirements ate needed for Pro Football Focus to put a quarterback in the conversation when they discuss greatest of the decade? Just Heisman winners evidentially.
The best college quarterback of the decade? pic.twitter.com/yPlEwQm9N9— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 24, 2020
They asked Twitter the question of who is the best college quarterback of the decade earlier this week and the only players they included for answers were Auburn’s Cam Newton, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, LSU’s Joe Burrow, and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. PFF and much of Twitter picked Mariota.
Another question they asked was just how good was Mariota while at Oregon. As a redshirt freshman, Chip Kelly believed that Mariota was special enough that he wouldn’t guarantee two-year starter Darron Thomas the job despite him leading a national championship contender and Rose Bowl Championship team in back to back seasons. This helped Thomas to make the decision to go pro instead of trying to compete with Mariota for the starting job.
Mariota left Oregon as their best player in program history. He threw for 10,796 yards, 105 touchdowns, and only 14 interceptions over his three seasons as the Ducks quarterback. He also ran for 2,237 yards and 29 touchdowns.
As a redshirt junior he won Oregon’s first Heisman Trophy while leading the Ducks to another National Championship appearance. He then left school and was selected second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
PFF went on to point out these facts about their other candidates. Even though Burrow had the best single season in college football history this past season, his junior season left much to be desired. Johnny Manziel never won a division title, and Cam Newton only played one season as the starter before declaring.
Not even having Deshaun Watson in the discussion is absurd. Not winning a Heisman doesn’t take away from everything else accomplished. He won one national title, and played for another.
Mariota, Newton, nor Burrow led their teams to two different appearances in the national championship. Manzell never even sniffed an appearance in a national title game.
Why limit the answers to just the ones named above? Why not broaden the answer field there?
Watson had 10,168 yards, 90 touchdowns, and 32 interceptions over his three seasons at the helm of the Tigers. He also had 1,934 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground. Outside of interceptions, the stats are very similar. Should wins and losses not outweigh those picks?
Watson helped lead the Clemson football program to its first national championship in 35 years. A season after coming up just one game short. Nothing can ever take that away from him or Clemson, Heisman or not.