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Alabama Crimson Tide: How Good is Quarterback AJ McCarron?

Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY SPORTS

Just how good is AJ McCarron, the two-time national champion quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide? If you ask one Southeastern Conference offensive coordinator, McCarron is the best signal caller in all of college football.

So said Dameyune Craig, offensive coordinator for Alabama’s arch rivals, the Auburn Tigers. During a radio appearance on WNSP (Mobile, Ala.) last week, Craig said as much. “He’s the best, there’s no comparing,” Craig said. “He’s won a couple of national championships, and that’s what you base a quarterback on.”

Craig’s statement is a bold one, considering that the defending Heisman Trophy winner not only resides in the same conference, but in the same division. Johnny Manziel, quarterback for the Texas A&M Aggies, was considered the best individual player in college football last season when he became the first ever freshman to win the prestigious honor.

The argument really comes down to the criteria set to define “the best”. If the criteria defines team success, there’s no doubt that McCarron is the top quarterback in college football right now because no other quarterback currently playing in the college ranks has ever won a national title as a starter. McCarron has two. The last quarterback not named McCarron to win the national title was Cam Newton, who led Auburn to the championship in 2010.

If the criteria is based on individual accomplishment, Manziel is the likely winner, even though he has only played one season. Manziel had 1,410 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns last season, while passing for 3,706 yards and 26 scores. Those numbers were enough to lead voters to select Manziel for the Heisman, college football’s top individual honor.

Since football is a team sport, Craig is probably right in saying that McCarron is the best quarterback in college football today. And if McCarron can lead the Tide to a third straight title, he will go down in history as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.