October 31, 2006 // Notre Dame Football

Troy Smith vs. Brady Quinn: The 3.3% Doctrine

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Last Saturday night I found myself halfway catatonic and all-the-way hungover on my friend’s couch in Annapolis. The Navy-ND game had ended with an Irish victory and about a half dozen of us sitting in the M&T Bank Stadium parking lot trying to sate our drunkenness with the false promise of charred animal flesh and leftover ginger ale from the Dark and Stormy’s–a traditional Navy tailgate drink, DANGEROUS stuff–that first kicked off the drinking some eight hours prior.

Thanks to a sinus infection that prevented one of us from drinking, we secured a DD and managed to safely return to Annapolis from Baltimore. (Although not without a belated stop at the Green Turtle in Edgewater for a couple rounds of Golden Tee and, for whatever reason, more beer and more Dark and Stormy’s.) As I sat there on the couch, ESPN started running its highlights.

The Minnesota-Ohio State recap came on with the headline, “Troy Smith added to his Heisman Trophy resume by running for one touchdown and throwing for another to lead No. 1 Ohio State past Minnesota 44-0.” Almost as an aside they printed Smith’s actual stats for the game: 14 for 21, 183 yds, 1 TD passing, 1 TD rushing.

That’s when it dawned on me: the national college football media is now officially blindly conceding the Heisman Trophy to Troy Smith.

Look, I’m not disputing that Smith is a superb all-around athlete and an efficient QB. And if he pulls off the win against Michigan, and does so in impressive fashion, the Heisman will be and should be his to lose.

But come on, ESPN!

Three of the four highlights you showed from the OSU-Minnesota game were of Troy Smith, and then your lead-in paragraph on ESPN.com actually used the phrase, “Troy Smith buffed up his Heisman Trophy numbers by running for one touchdown and throwing for another…” All this, for a 14-21, 183-yds, 1-TD game? Great, he had a rushing TD too. That’s what you call “buffing up” your numbers? Nice to see this “dual threat” phenom get his FIRST FREAKING RUSHING TOUCHDOWN OF THE SEASON–you know, now that we’re nine games into the season and all, and now that Smith has played the likes of Northern Illinois, Cincinnati, Bowling Green and Indiana.

Once I sobered up, I decided to look at the numbers. Maybe ESPN just forgot to mention that Quinn’s current streak of 169 consecutive passes without an interception leads all Div I-A QBs by a considerable margin. Maybe I was just imagining that Quinn, projected out over a 12-game regular season, would have an obvious statistical edge over Troy Smith. Or maybe I was simply being a naive “Domer Homer.”

Then again, maybe not…

Troy Smith, after nine games: 145-214, 1,898 yds, 67.8%, 22 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 rushing TD

Brady Quinn, after eight games: 193-303, 2,233 yds, 63.7%, 21 TDs, 4 INTs, 2 rushing TDs

Troy Smith, vs. Penn State: 12-22, 115 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Brady Quinn, vs. Penn State: 25-36, 287 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

Troy Smith, vs. Michigan State: 15-22, 234 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Brady Quinn, vs. Michigan State: 20-36, 319 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT

Troy Smith isn’t getting love from NFL scouts because he’s undersized and hasn’t shown a genuine ability to be a pro-style QB aside from the occasional highlight reel play. By his own admission, Smith actually scrambles to see over linemen’s heads, and all reports are he’s closer to 5’11” than the 6’1” touted by the Ohio State media guide. He could likely go after not only Quinn in the draft–which is a given–but after Brohm, Stanton, Edwards, Palko, and Ainge.

Meanwhile, as Heisman voters ejaculate at the altar of Ohio State, Brady Quinn will quietly surpass Smith in every passing category except for completion percentage all the while playing significantly better than Troy Smith against like opponents. (Granted, the Buckeyes signal caller has a shot to change this like-opponent equation dramatically with a win over Michigan.)

But hey, for the sake of argument let’s go ahead and concede the OSU win over Michigan. Let’s assume Troy Smith leads his Buckeyes into the BCS Championship Game and is the runaway Heisman winner. Based on their current numbers, the projected stats of Troy Smith and Brady Quinn would be as follows:

Troy Smith: 193-285, 2,531 yds, 67.7%, 29 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 rushing TD

Brady Quinn: 290-455, 3,350 yds, 64.4%, 32 TDs, 6 INTs, 3 rushing TDs

Wow, I can already envision Troy Smith’s acceptance speech:

“I want to thank everyone for this great honor. A personal shout out to Brady Quinn. [Troy turns to Brady.] Yes, I realize you threw for 800 more yards and three more touchdowns, that you even ran for more touchdowns than me, and that in the only meaningful comparison—our stats against like opponents—you embarrassed me, but I have a 3.3% better completion percentage, which was obviously too impressive for the Heisman voters to ignore.”

A preemptive congrats on your Heisman, Mr. Smith. See you in the second round of the NFL draft.

And as an added note, why not give every major award to an Ohio State player: the Jim Thorpe Award, the Butkus Award, etc. If the only overriding requirement for an award is that you’re an athletic and efficient player on the #1 team in the country, then why isn’t Ted Ginn, Jr. putting the finishing touches on his Biletnikoff acceptance speech?

(I have no doubt that somewhere in Columbus a red-faced Buckeyes fan is preparing a rambling defense of why Ginn, contrary to the belief of every living soul in the college and NFL football media, is superior to Calvin Johnson.)

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