No, the header isn’t about Gus Malzahn. It’s about this premise:
… but when Barton Simmons, Tom Fornelli and I are breaking down quarterbacks for the best teams in college football, you’ll often hear the terms “maverick” and “bus driver” as a sorting tool.
Bus drivers get you to where you need to go on time. They are capable of leading a team to title contention and even winning a national championship … with the right pieces around them. But when judged individually, as players are in the NFL Draft process, they are not rated against their peers the way their teams were in college.
Mavericks, on the other hand, are elite. When they are judged against their peers, they are proven to be among the most talented quarterbacks in the entire country. To put an oversimplified line in the sand for this discussion: mavericks are first or second round NFL Draft talents while bus drivers often are Day 3 picks or go undrafted…
But two things have changed in the College Football Playoff era. First is the emphasis on elite quarterback play, which is a continuation of a trend that began before 2014 and extends to all levels of the sport. From hurry-up offenses to the read-pass option, the fate of a team is put in the hands of the quarterback more than ever…
Of the 19 quarterbacks that have started in a College Football Playoff game, 10 of them have been first- or second-round talents. Those 10 quarterbacks have combined for 13 playoff wins and four of the six national championships, including every title since 2016. The other nine quarterbacks have combined for just five playoff wins, four of them coming from Ohio State and Alabama in championship runs. Without Cardale Jones’ two wins in 2014 and Jacob Coker’s two in 2015, the playoff record of quarterbacks outside of that first two-round NFL Draft group is 1-7. So if you’re not Alabama or Ohio State, the odds of winning the national championship should you make the College Football Playoff are long if you don’t a maverick at quarterback.
Jake Fromm has that one win. He should have had two, but I digress.
Anyway, where the piece goes from there is to note that Joe Burrow raised himself from bus driver to maverick in one season and then proceeds to look at who stands where in 2020.
The good news, if you’re a Georgia fan, is…
Teams with a maverick
- Clemson (11/5): Trevor Lawrence
- Ohio State (4-1): Justin Fields
- Georgia (7-1): Jamie Newman
- Texas (35-1): Sam Ehlinger
- USC (60-1): Kedon Slovis
There’s no real need to elaborate on Lawrence and Fields. They’ve each proven their elite status on the field and both begin the year at the center of the national championship discussion. CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson projects Newman joining Lawrence and Fields as a top-10 pick in 2021, noting that the move to Georgia has the former Wake Forest quarterback on “everyone’s first-round radar.”
The amusing news, if you’re a Georgia fan, is…
Trask had a great season in 2019 and there’s no question the Gators are entering the fall in a position to displace Georgia from atop the SEC East and therefore are on the short list for national championship contention. At the moment, however, he’s rates closer to a bus driver than a maverick and needs to take a step in his second season as starter to reach the level seen by the most successful quarterbacks of the playoff era.
Assuming he beats out Jones for the starting spot this season, that is.