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Rewriting the Books: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to become a top ten passer

Georgia has one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC and country in Aaron Murray, even if Alabama’s AJ McCarron thinks he doesn’t win enough. This season he should move in to the top ten in the all-time passing list as Georgia hopes to capture an elusive SEC Championship and perhaps take a crack at the crystal ball in the BCS Championship Game. Already with 10,091 career passing yards entering the season, Murray needs 2,874 to pass Houston’s Kevin Kolb for tenth in the all-time passing list after starting the year 76th on the list. I think he will move up to eighth on the list, nudging North Carolina State’s Phillip Rivers down to ninth but sniffing the top five will be a reach with Ty Detmer currently nearly 5,000 yards ahead of where Murray is right now and that is before calculating Detmer’s bowl stats.

Ty DetmerThe NCAA began keeping track of bowl stats and counting them toward all-time records in 2002, but for whatever reason nobody ever went back and decided to update the records with the bowl stats from before that point in time. Why? I believe because the stat keepers at the NCAA were lazy (plausible) and there was a fear of rewriting history in a sense in the event an all-time leader was suddenly knocked down to two or three (hunch). This, to me, never made sense because at the same time we still were counting bowl victories for coaches and programs in the official win totals. If we can count the wins and losses, why not the stats that went along with them?

I am not prepared to rewrite the entire history books, but feel comfortable doing so when it comes to the top ten. The official records will show Ty Detmer with a career total of 15,031 career passing yards, but if you throw in his bowl stats he really had 16,206 career yards. That would actually make him the fourth best passer in terms of total career passing yards, moving Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell down a spot. In the chart below you can see the adjusted all-time top ten passers. That’s the way I feel the records should be reflected, and when possible I will make an attempt to continue doing things that way.

However it is done, Murray stands a good chance to reach sixth on the all-time list and moving in to fifth would still look like a stretch at best.

Rank Player (Years) School Adjusted Career Passing Yards
1 Case Keenum (2007-2011) Houston 19,217
2 Timmy Chang (2000-2004) Hawaii 17,072
3 Landry Jones (2009-2012) Oklahoma 16,646
4 Ty Detmer (1988-1991) BYU 16,206
5 Graham Harrell (2005-2008) Texas Tech 15,793
6 Kellen Moore (2008-2011) Boise State 14,667
7 Colt Brennan (2005-2007) Hawaii 13,253
8 Phillip Rivers (2000-2003) North Carolina State 13,484
9 Colt McCoy (2006-2009) Texas 13,253
10 Kevin Kolb (2003-2006) Houston 12,964

Murray is also tied for 21st on the all-time passing list for touchdowns, tied with Texas A&M head coach Kliff Kingsbury with 95 touchdown passes. Murray had 36 touchdowns last season so he should be able to successfully move in to the top ten with little problem in 2013.

Three quarterbacks in the all-time top ten have totals that were recorded in stone before the NCAA made the fundamental change to record keeping. Detmer is locked in with 121 career touchdowns, Louisiana Tech’s Tim Rattay has 115 and Florida’s Danny Wuerffel is stuck on 114 career touchdowns according to the NCAA record books. As I did with the career passing yards top ten, I have adjusted the top ten touchdown passing list appropriately to include bowl games.

chad pennington marshallUnfortunately for Rattay, Louisiana Tech did not play in any postseason games while he was suiting up despite the Bulldogs going 23-11 over three years and never dipping below 6-6. Keep in mind there were not as many bowl opportunities for middle of the pack independent programs like Louisiana Tech in the late 1990s. So Rattay stays on 115 career touchdowns. If we include bowl games, Wuerffel actually has 119 career touchdowns and Detmer has 127 career touchdowns. That actually moves Detmer up from sixth on the official all-time touchdown list past Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and in to fifth place. Wuerffel also moves up from tenth to seventh all-time.

But wait, there’s one more adjustment to make. The official books will show Marshall’s Chad Pennington with 107 career touchdown passes. If we include his bowl game touchdowns, Pennington actually had 115 career passing touchdowns to move him up from 13th on the official list to the bottom of the adjusted top ten, tied with Rattay.

These changes are reflected in the adjusted top ten list below.

Rank Player (Years) School Adjusted Career Passing TDs
1 Case Keenum (2007-2011) Houston 155
2 Kellen Moore (2008-2011) Boise State 142
3 Graham Harrell (2005-2008) Texas Tech 134
4 Colt Brennan (2005-2007) Hawaii 131
5 Ty Detmer (1988-1991) BYU 127
6 Landry Jones (2009-2012) Oklahoma 123
7 Danny Wuerffel (1993-1996) Florida 119
8 Timmy Chang (2000-2004) Hawaii 117
9 Matt Barkley (2009-2012) USC 116
10 (t) Tim Rattay (1997-1999)
Chad Pennington (11997-1999)
Louisiana Tech

Have a question about either of these adjusted top ten lists? Shoot me a question for the weekly mailbag. You can leave a comment below as well. Which top ten list should be adjusted next? Running backs? Wide receivers?

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.