As A.J. McCarron walked off the field of Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night, he left as a winner.
It’s a feeling McCarron’s grown used to. After all, he’s only lost two games over the past three seasons.
The senior Alabama quarterback was shown on national television, hugging his mom and kissing his girlfriend.
Even after three seasons under center for a team that’s been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for 12 consecutive weeks and 22 of the last 27 weeks, McCarron has flown under the radar. In fact, you could argue that his girlfriend, Katherine Webb, has a more recognizable name than McCarron, thanks to Brett Musburger and a couple of television commercial appearances.
McCarron’s resume is remarkable. He’s already won two national titles and is leading his team toward a chance at a third-straight appearance in the BCS Championship. The lowest Alabama has been ranked since McCarron became the starter is fourth – and that was only for a total of two weeks after the team’s two losses, respectively.
He’s never lost a road game. Think about that for a moment.
And yet, McCarron’s seemingly not even in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy.
During the LSU-Alabama game on Saturday night, CBS displayed a graphic with the leading Heisman contenders. The list?
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has led one of the most entertaining offenses in the country.
Texas A&M quarterback and last year’s Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who once again has put up numbers that are video game-esque.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who seemingly has picked up right where Robert Griffin III left off, leading the Bears to a stunning undefeated season.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who has taken the college football world by storm in his freshman campaign.
All are extremely worthy candidates for discussion. But so is McCarron.
McCarron’s numbers are respectable. While his total passing yards are significantly lower at 2,041 on the season – compared to Manziel’s 3,313 – McCarron has the second-highest completion percentage of any of the quarterbacks in the discussion at 69.4. He’s also thrown just three interceptions on the season, although he’s third on that list behind Mariota, who remarkably has yet to throw a pick this season, and Petty, who has just one.
A look at the Heisman candidates’ statistics, through games played Nov. 10.
Alabama, meanwhile, isn’t flashy. McCarron isn’t a dual-threat quarterback by any stretch of the imagination.
But at some point, the quarterback who has led Alabama to 12 consecutive weeks as the AP No. 1 team has to be considered at least in the running for the Heisman, doesn’t he?
During Saturday night’s game, McCarron broke the school record for career passing yards, a record previously held by John Parker Wilson. He’s already taken claim to being the all-time leader in winning percentage in the SEC, with a 34-2 record.
McCarron claims that not being in the Heisman race doesn’t bother him.
“I’ve won two national championships in a row,” McCarron told NFL.com after the game. “If that wasn’t a distraction, I don’t think an individual award (Heisman) would be a distraction.”
(Take that, Heisman voters.)
The Heisman is the highest award in college football. The Heisman Memorial Trust writes that it recognizes “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”
Yes, statistically, McCarron falls behind the other four Heisman candidates in several categories. But if McCarron doesn’t exemplify the pursuit of excellence, diligence, perseverance and hard work, then I’m not sure who does. There’s also something to be said about winning.
If Alabama again wins the SEC title in December, remains unbeaten and is headed for the BCS Championship Game, McCarron should be invited to that ceremony in New York City. And he should be considered a serious candidate to win.
After all, McCarron knows what it takes to win. He’s shown us that now for three seasons.
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