The college football world is bearish on the SEC having success on the National Stage this season because of all the uncertainty within the Conference at the quarterback position. Adding fuel to the fire to this narrative is the amount of talent, ease of schedule and the great coaching at Ohio State; with all this, the SEC is being written off as yesterday’s news.
Only Mississippi State-a team who is a consensus last place pick in the SEC West-doesn’t have uncertainty at that position. I guess you could throw Missouri in that mix, also; they are picked to finish third in the SEC East.
The uncertainty at the quarterback position is one of the biggest demerits for Georgia going into this season. This is uncharted water for the Bulldogs under Coach Richt. The only other year there were this many QB questions was 2006-and even then you knew at some point it was going to be Matthew Stafford’s job.
But how important is the starting quarterback to win it all in College football?
Normally, I would say very. You need a few other things to win it all in College football: luck, a good running game, a good defense, and a favorable schedule. Notice I didn’t say coaching (See: Chizik, Gene).
But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that every season since 2009, one (and sometimes multiple) teams vying for the National Championship have done so with a freshman or first year starter at quarterback.
The last time you had two quarterbacks with experience facing off in the National Championship was back in 2008-Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow. Since then, however, it hasn’t been the case.
In 2009, Greg McElroy was in his first year as a starter at Alabama. Alabama faced off against Texas and Colt McCoy, who had a storied collegiate career.
In 2010, both Auburn and Oregon made it the BCS Title Game with first year starters. In 2011, Alabama won it in A.J. McCarron’s first year starting, beating LSU who had a quarterback controversy all season with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. That LSU team was possibly the best team we’ve seen this decade, and they didn’t even win it all. They are easily the best team to not win a National Championship in the BCS era.
In 2012, Notre Dame made it to the title game with Everett Golson in his first year as a starter.
2013 saw Auburn and Florida State face off. Jameis Winston was a redshirt freshman and Nick Marshall was a converted cornerback in his first year starting at Auburn.
Last season, while Florida State and Oregon had established signal callers, Alabama and Ohio State made it to the Playoff with first year starters, and in Ohio State’s case, won it all with a freshman who had just a few starts under his belt, period.
Going back to 2000, Heisman winners and established collegiate quarterbacks littered the National Championship scene: Jason White, Chris Weinke, Jay Couch, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford. There are some all-time greats that hoisted the Crystal Football.
But recent history has proven that having an established starter under center isn’t part of the recipe for a Championship season.
It would help, but it isn’t mandatory.
This doesn’t mean I am saying that a team from the SEC will win it all in 2015, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I think Georgia will do so. The teams in the SEC have blemishes. In Georgia’s case, I would be as much concerned-or more-about the defensive line stopping the run.
But don’t write off Alabama, LSU, and even Georgia just because the questions at the quarterback position.