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Sports Illustrated asks if it’s time to consider AJ McCarron as ‘one of the best ever’

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron graces the cover of the current issue of Sports Illustrated, and the magazine has a question it would like you to consider.

Under the headline "King Crimson" the magazine says "On the brink of a third national title, is it time to think about AJ McCarron as one of the best ever?"

It's a glowing feature of the quarterback, and it's really hard to come away not liking McCarron, even if you're someone infinitely jealous of the fact that he's dating Katherine Webb. If you're that type, you probably even thought "aw, she found a good dude." At least for a split second before your jealousy returned.

But before we get to the crux of the question, we must note that Alabama has four games left -- to win -- before AJ McCarron would have the opportunity to lift the crystal ball atop the BCS trophy for the third time. It's not like this question is being posed before the week of the championship game.

The crux of the argument presented is in this paragraph:

McCarron might be almost as well known for his arm candy as his arm strength, his body ink as his body of work. But let’s be clear: He’s not just one of the great Alabama quarterbacks. AJ McCarron is on the short list of the most successful players in the history of college football. Even if not many think of him that way.

The entire article is framed around the idea that McCarron is underrated. And that was once true. And however possible it was to underrate McCarron, it's not any longer. Anyone with half a brain watching college football knows that he's a damn good quarterback, even if he's surrounded by the most talented college football team around.

Going into the season, McCarron was voted to the coaches' All-SEC third team behind Aaron Murray and Johnny Manziel. Seems about right, doesn't it? One spot up or down isn't a big enough deal to move the "underrated" needle.

And if you're going to rank the quarterbacks in college football right now, McCarron likely slots in around the midsection of the top 10, behind Manziel, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater and in the neighborhood of Bryce Petty, Murray, Braxton Miller, Tajh Boyd and others. Again, he's not underrated.

Much like the win is for pitchers, quarterback wins are an overrated achievement. As SBNation's Team Speed Kills points out, Ken Dorsey went 38-2. Think of the NFL talent that surrounded Dorsey at Miami. Think of the NFL talent that surrounds McCarron.

That doesn't mean that AJ McCarron is Ken Dorsey, but no one is making "a short list," however short or long it is, of the greatest quarterbacks in college football and putting Ken Dorsey on it. (If you are, let us know.)

The story also points out that McCarron has never been to New York for the Heisman Trophy. That could very well change this year -- he's listed as the third favorite by Bovada -- but what finalist would McCarron have gone in place of the previous two seasons? It also touts his candidacy for this year's award by virtue of his career accomplishments. Though the Heisman is a seasonal, not a career, award.

Third BCS title or not, McCarron will leave Alabama as the most prolific passer in terms of yards and touchdowns. But again, as the magazine mentions, for all of the success that Alabama has had, quarterback is far from its strongest position historically.

McCarron is and has been a very good quarterback on the best team of his era. That point is indisputable, and won't change significantly if he ends his career with two national championships or three. However, let's table his candidacy for one of college football's best ever players -- however sizable that list may be -- until the season is over, especially if the argument hinges on a third national title. He's got a pretty important 10 percent of his career left to play.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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