|Aaron Murray's selection over Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron is a real head-scratcher.|
SEC coaches picked Georgia's Aaron Murray as their first-team QB on the All-SEC preseason team. Murray was picked over a reigning Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) and a two-time national champion (AJ McCarron). Did they get it right, and if not, who would be your choice?
McCarron would have been my choiceIt's such a tough call on naming a first-team all-conference selection at quarterback in the SEC based on the remarkable careers of Georgia's Aaron Murray, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Alabama's AJ McCarrron. While you can make a strong case for each of the nominees, I believe it's hard to ignore the championship pedigree of McCarron. He has guided the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national titles, while playing nearly flawless football from the pocket. His sensational 30:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio has been categorized as effective game management, but I see it as a reflection of his superb playmaking ability as a passer. Moreover, I believe McCarron's ability to avoid the costly mistake shouldn't go unnoticed when considering the Crimson Tide's phenomenal run as a title contender. Given the fact that quarterbacks are ultimately judged on their ability to win the big game, I believe McCarron deserves the nod over Murray and Manziel despite their impressive resumes.
Murray over Manziel and McCarron is a curious choiceMurray is a fine player, has led his team to a lot of victories, including two SEC East titles, and has set numerous school records. But, for him to be picked ahead of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, the young man who as a freshman led the SEC in rushing and total offense? And, ahead of two-time national champion AJ McCarron, the veteran leader who threw for 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions. I'm sure the coaches have their reasons, but I would sure love to hear them.
This is a mess, and it smells badFirst, let it be said that college football coaches sometimes delegate the task of voting in the USA Today Coaches Poll to their sports information directors, and it wouldn't at all be surprising if a handful did the same to pick the preseason coaches All-SEC team. That said, it's the coaches' name on the product, so it's their mess when it smells bad. And this does. In winning the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Manziel broke ... no, he demolished ... the SEC record for total yardage in a season (5,116). Neither Cam Newton nor Tim Tebow ever reached 4,400. And if the reasoning was that Murray had more success on the field, then how would one explain Alabama's AJ McCarron, replete with two national titles, ranking on the third team? More likely, it's just the latest sign than people are getting a little sick of Johnny Football.
Get what coaches might be thinkingI can understand not putting Manziel on the first team; heck, no one knows for sure how many games he will play this season because of the NCAA investigation into his signing of autographs. That said, if I were picking a preseason All-SEC team, I would've had Manziel on the first team, Murray on the second and McCarron on the third.
Murray fell short in big games and should have in vote, tooOh, there's nothing like a visit from the green-eyed monster. Alabama has won two consecutive BCS championships thanks to outstanding title game performances from the steady AJ McCarron, so competing SEC coaches can't acknowledge that. Texas A&M was the hottest team in the country at the end of last season because of the dramatic ascent of the divisive Johnny Football, so competing SEC coaches can't acknowledge that. Instead, why would they choose Aaron Murray who was 41-of-88 for 524 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions in Georgia's three most important games against South Carolina, Florida and Alabama last season? Recognizing Murray feels like another chance to needle the big dogs in the Aggies and Crimson Tide. Whether the top signal-caller in the SEC is McCarron or Manziel -- and cases can easily be made for both -- it definitely isn't Murray.
Don't discount Murray's three seasons of high-level playMurray is my No. 3-rated senior quarterback and is No. 31 on my Hot 100 seniors list. He has started 41 consecutive games for Georgia, a streak that dates back to his freshman season when he threw for 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. That is a tremendous season for a freshman quarterback. Last season, Murray had 36 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and compiled a passer rating of 174.8, which was a school record. That's saying a lot given that the quarterback ahead of him at Georgia was Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Murray is a very good college football player -- notice I said "college." Murray has played at a high level for three years and compares well to Drew Brees when he was at Purdue.
Manziel is a talented guy, but I can see selecting Murray over Manziel since the Texas A&M QB has done it for just one year vs. Murray's three years.
McCarron, based on his height (he's 6-foot-3 3/8 vs. Murray at 6-0 7/8), might make for the stronger NFL prospect. He's also won two national championships. If I were drafting, I'd take McCarron over Manziel and Murray because he is taller, which is a big thing from the perspective of NFL evaluators.