Not a day goes by where an Alabama fan doesn’t ask me why I don’t list AJ McCarron as a Heisman candidate. It’s not because I have some sort of insidious agenda against the Tide. It’s just that I have a good understanding of what Heisman voters look for in a quarterback and an even better understanding of Alabama’s Heisman history.
Alabama is, without a doubt, one of the top three schools in the history of college football. Arguably the best. But it’s a storied tradition that hasn’t included very many offensive stars. For instance, an Alabama quarterback has never thrown for more than 3,000 yards, or for more than 20 touchdowns in a season. You don’t have to have incredible numbers to win the Heisman at Alabama — Mark Ingram proved that — but they do have to be above a certain level for voters to take them seriously.
Can McCarron get to that level? So far, he’s off to a very good start, with 999 yards and 12 touchdowns with no interceptions in his first five games. It puts him on pace to have 2,597 yards and 31 touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due. It certainly might be enough to qualify him as the best Crimson Tide quarterback in recent memory.
But would those numbers be enough to win the Heisman this year? Not only will McCarron’s stats compare unfavorably to those of Smith, they will also struggle to keep up with the likes of (potentially) EJ Manuel’s and Aaron Murray’s, or whoever else is leading a team to a BCS title game spot. In that context, McCarron will have a hard time making the case for why he is the most outstanding player.
Add to that the perception that he is merely a game manager, interchangeable with John Parker Wilson and Greg McElroy — two other quarterbacks who also won a lot for ‘Bama under Nick Saban — and it makes McCarron’s path to the Heisman all the more difficult.
The only way I can see McCarron making a serious challenge for the trophy is if he does something that no one has ever done. Can he get through the season with no interceptions? Can he set an NCAA pass efficiency record?
Either would do the trick. Neither looks to be realistic. And, so, Alabama fans will just have to be content with having another Heisman-less national title contending team. A small price to pay, no doubt