“Greatest Quarterback in Michigan Football – College Football – History” Jim Harbaugh Sings Praise for QB J.J. McCarthy

    Jim Harbaugh had some positive things to say about Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, but he went way too far. Who is the Wolverines' best QB?

    We all say things when emotions are running high, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t exempt from that. After an emotional win over Alabama in the Rose Bowl, the Wolverines head coach had some high praise for his quarterback, J.J. McCarthy. Whether it’s true or not remains the question.

    Jim Harbaugh Sings J.J. McCarthy’s Praises

    When talking about McCarthy this weekend after the Rose Bowl, Jim Harbaugh didn’t hold back, saying that McCarthy “is the greatest quarterback in Michigan football — college football — history.” From his final drive in the game to his career record as a starter, McCarthy has plenty of positives on his résumé, but is there truth to Harbaugh’s statement?

    When it comes to Michigan, winning is a tradition. McCarthy’s 26-1 career record as a starter shouldn’t be solely credited to him, but it is impressive nonetheless. Michigan’s been a consistent winning program under Jim Harbaugh and he found the right guy to run the offense.

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    A lot can be said about McCarthy’s final drive against Alabama. While he didn’t have the best statistical game, he took care of the football and led the Wolverines down the field on the last drive.

    To stay cool and calm in a big moment against one of the best college football programs says a lot about McCarthy’s abilities. It just doesn’t make him the “GOAT,” as the kids say.

    McCarthy vs. Other Quarterbacks

    Harbaugh loves bringing attention to Michigan, so any quote of his has to be taken with a grain of salt. His claims that McCarthy is the best stand out, but how much validity is there to his statement?

    McCarthy is in no way, shape, or form the best college football quarterback in history. No sane person would argue that. Same with this year in college football. He finished 10th this year in Heisman voting, far behind LSU’s Heisman-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels.

    So that leaves Michigan. If you’re looking at record as a starter, then McCarthy wins that title, but those arguing team stats for an individual typically don’t get taken seriously. McCarthy’s in the top 10 of multiple different statistics as a passer, though, so you can look at those to compare him to others.

    In Michigan’s history, there are dozens of QB1s. Names like Tom Brady, Chad Henne, John Navarre, Elvis Grbac, and Denard Robinson would be in the discussion. Even Harbaugh himself would be a good debate.

    Simply put, if you’re going to debate McCarthy as the best quarterback in Wolverines’ history, you better have some good arguments. Whether it’s the stats or the eye test, it’s a tough sell against any of the above players.

    The Eye Test

    When you watch the games, you see that Sherrone Moore doesn’t call particularly tasking plays for McCarthy as a passer.

    Against Alabama, his best plays included a short crossing route that Tyler Morris ran in for a 38-yard touchdown. His other big pass late in the game was tipped at the line, but Roman Wilson made an incredible leaping catch.

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    It’s not that McCarthy’s not a good quarterback. It’s that his team doesn’t rely on him to win. It got to a point that they didn’t throw a pass in the second half against Penn State earlier this year. You don’t need to do that if your quarterback is great.

    McCarthy’s abilities as a runner add to the Michigan offense. He picked up 25 yards against Alabama with his legs, and teams must respect that part of his game. Whether it’s a designed run or a scramble on a dropback, McCarthy can do some damage with his feet.

    Let’s take McCarthy for what he’s worth. He’s a good quarterback who benefits from being on a great team — not the other way around. If Michigan beats Washington, it will be an amalgamation of factors. One of them will be McCarthy taking care of the football and making smart, easy reads. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    McCarthy can also come back for another year at Michigan. He’s shown improvement every year as a starter, but there’s room for more growth. If he has a big year, then part of Harbaugh’s statement could be true. It also puts Michigan in contention for a title once again. But for now, it might be best to pump the brakes.

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