Who was the better quarterback, Pat Sullivan or Jason Campbell? Sullivan was the ultimate field-general during his era, picking up a Heisman trophy along the way. Jason Campbell compiled the most prolific season as an Auburn quarterback during his senior year, leading his team to a perfect 13-0 season. Dameyune Craig was called upon to carry the offense when there was no supporting cast in the backfield and he led Auburn to the 1997 Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
Auburn fans witnessed the resurrection of a quarterback in Ben Leard when it appeared his career as Auburn's starting quarterback came to end after the 1998 season. Stan White started out his freshman year as one of the top quarterbacks in the country until the Florida game in 1990. Following two consecutive dismal seasons White directed Auburn to its first 11-0 regular season mark as a senior.
Along the way we've witnessed Patrick Nix and Reggie Slack pave their way to memorable victories and Jeff Burger was the first true passing quarterback since Pat Sullivan. Burger would become the first quarterback under coach Pat Dye to lead a balanced offense and a testament that Auburn could win championships running and throwing the football.
Who was the best?
Their physical attributes and style of play were different and there is no proven method determining whom the best was. Some of them were fortunate enough to play on talented teams and some competed against a tougher schedule. All of these factors should be considered when making a comparison. Sullivan played during an era when opposing defenses were allowed to make more contact with the receivers, resulting in a higher percentage of interceptions.
For the sole purpose of comparing the Auburn quarterbacks, each quarterback will be evaluated on the following categories:
* NCAA quarterback rating
* Completion percentage
* Average yards per pass attempt
* Average yards per pass completion
* Interception ratio
* Touchdown ratio
Each quarterback will be ranked under the following categories:
* Overall career numbers
* Games against Division I opponents with a winning record
* Games when the running game was held under 120-yards
* Games against Division I opponents with a win pct of .750
Overall Career Numbers:
Campbell was No. 1 in this category posting the highest QB rating, the highest completion percentage, the highest average per pass attempt, the fifth highest average per pass completion, the second best interception ratio and the third highest touchdown ratio for a final ranking of 2.17.
Campbell's career numbers: 552-856-24-7299-45TDs
If Cox holds up six fingers on Nov. 24 he'd be 3-0 as a starter against Alabama and would be remembered as one of the all-time greats because of his Iron Bowl record regardless of his statistics.
Rankings against Opponents with a winning record:
Sullivan rose to the occasion against "quality" opponents, moving from fifth place overall to No. 1 against opponents with a winning record. Sullivan was first in QB rating, fifth in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, third in yards per pass completion, seventh in interception ratio and first in touchdown ratio for a final ranking of 3.00. Campbell was tied with a 3.00 ranking as well but finished with only one first place ranking under this category.
Sullivan's numbers in this category: 217-383-17-2988-23TDs
Rankings when running game held under 120-yards:
Leard made his move in this category, mainly due to the impressive numbers he posted during the 1999 season. He was first in QB rating, third in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, seventh in yards per completion, fourth in interception ratio and first in touchdown ratio for an overall ranking of 2.83.
Leard's career numbers under this category: 219-353-10-2665-18TDs.
Rankings against opponents with a 9-3 record or better:
Campbell returns to the top of the list under this category. He was first in QB rating, first in completion percentage, second in yards per attempt, fifth in yards per completion, fifth in interception ratio and second in touchdown ratio for a final ranking of 2.67.
Career numbers in this category: 231-372-12-2787-17TDs
Average of rankings:
Based on the average ranking of all four categories, Campbell was the best Auburn quarterback, statistically speaking.
Campbell finished his Auburn career as the highest rated passer in school history. He won one conference title and led Auburn to a national championship-caliber season in 2004. He truly was a proven leader on and off the field being named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He left Auburn as a graduate and was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. There are many ways to judge the worth of a football player and Campbell would certainly be at the top of the majority of those lists.