Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Manning Theory?

Late last night I was considering Georgia's potential for winning a national championship, despite having a new quarterback after long-time star David Greene graduated last year. This train of thought led me immediately to Bill Simmons' Ewing Theory, but that didn't exactly fit in the world of college football. It did however make me think of the cases of Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer, both widely considered to be the best quarterback in the country their senior seasons, both of whose teams won national championships in the year following their departure (Tennessee in '98 and USC in '03). In order to see if this was just a coincidence or something of substance, I took the time to examine all the champions since 1994 and found the following:

YearTeamStarting QBPrevious Starting QB
1994NebraskaTommie FrazierTommie Frazier
1995NebraskaTommie FrazierTommie Frazier
1996FloridaDanny WuerffelDanny Wuerffel
1997MichiganBrian GreiseScott Dreisbach
1997NebraskaScott FrostScott Frost
1998TennesseeTee MartinPeyton Manning
1999Florida StateChris WeinkeChris Weinke
2000OklahomaJosh HeupelJosh Heupel
2001Miami FLKen DorseyKen Dorsey
2002OSUCraig KrenzelSteve Bellisari
2003LSUMatt MauckMarcus Randall
2003USCMatt LeinartCarson Palmer
2004USCMatt LeinartMatt Leinart

Looking at this data, it quickly becomes apparent that the 2003 Trojans and the 1998 Volunteers are the only two teams to have won titles in years that they have replaced star quarterbacks. In the case of Michigan in 1997 and LSU in 2003, the previous starter was beat out for the job by the new QB. Ohio State also won a championship with a new QB in 2002, but Craig Krenzel was replacing Steve Bellisari who was hardly a star and didn't even play in the 2001 Michigan game.

In conclusion, the data neither proves nor disproves the so-called "Manning Theory." I'm sure that I'm not the first to look into this trend, and I probably shouldn't even claim Manning Theory as the title, as a quick google search reveals the original Manning theory to be from biology and not from sports. In a later post I will evaluate what this trend means to several teams in the 2005 season.


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