Manning Theory Implications
Earlier today I laid out what I like to call the "Manning Theory. In short, good teams that lose great quarterbacks to graduation can move on to become great teams with good quarterbacks the next season. The classic case of this is Tennessee in 1998, they won the national championship in year Peyton +1. Another tendency that I stumbled across was teams winning the title with a backup beating out a starter for the job before the season began (which we will call the Griese Corollary). I intend to identify three teams that could benefit from the Manning Theory and at least one team that could capitalize on the Griese corollary.
First, we must find some teams with quarterbacks that have moved on. According to my sources, the top 14 rookie NFL QBs are:
1. Aaron Rodgers, Cal
2. Alex Smith, Utah
3. Jason Campbell, Auburn
4. Charlie Frye, Akron
5. Andrew Walter, Arizona State
6. Kyle Orton, Purdue
7. Derek Anderson, Oregon State
8. David Greene, Georgia
9. Adrian McPherson, Florida State
10. Dan Orlovsky, UConn
11. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard
12. Stefan LeFors, Louisville
13. James Killian, Tulsa
14. Matt Cassel, USC
We can immediately discard Harvard, Tulsa and Akron because Utah proved that even an undefeated team will not receive an opportunity to play for the national title if they are from a mid-major conference. Utah can also be ruled out as they are replacing a head coach and most of their offense, in addition to being a mid-major. Matt Cassel was the backup at USC and are already the favorite, so they too will be omitted. This leaves us with Cal, Auburn, Arizona State, Purdue, Oregon State, Georgia, Florida State, UConn and Louisville. McPherson was not with FSU last year and UConn doesn't have the surrounding talent, so we will throw these out as well. Auburn's running game left with Campbell, making it rather difficult to believe that they will repeat as SEC champs and Oregon State wasn't particularly good, even with Anderson, so strike both of these teams as well.
We have now pared down our choices to Cal, Arizona State, Purdue, Georgia and Louisville. I believe that following the Manning Theory, all of these teams could make a lot of noise this season. After one game, Georgia is well on the way to validating the theory. Purdue could well take the Big Ten this year and Louisville is the early favorite in the Big East. Cal and Arizona State have to contend with sharing a conference with the juggernaut USC, but both have solid chances to upset (in home games no less) and appear in my first Power16. Even though Cal and ASU look solid, I promised you three schools looking to contend with new QBs, so I must narrow it down to Georgia, Purdue and Louisville. Look for all three schools to make noise, and when one is playing in the Rose Bowl don't say I didn't tell you so.
I also promised you one school that could fulfill the Greise corollary. (You know, the one where a 2nd stringer supplants the starter from the year before and carries the team to glory.) As much as it kills me, I have to pick Ohio State here, but only if they come to their senses and continue to start Justin Zwick. According to mgoblog, Troy Smith is horribly overrated, and I agree. This team would be dangerous if they left the stronger-armed Zwick to deliver the ball to their playmakers (Ginn and Holmes). Off course I hope that they do start Smith and go 7-4 as a result. Its up to them though, just remember that you can't escape the Griese corollary.