Is Erik Ainge vastly overrated?

As a three-year starting quarterback for the University of Tennessee, Erik Ainge ranks among college football's most experienced players. One analyst believes he ranks among college football's most overrated players, as well.

In a web note entitled "Numbers show who brings it in big games," Matt Hayes of suggests that Ainge's bounce-back season in 2006 was something of a mirage. Hayes says statistics reveal that Ainge padded his '06 numbers against inferior non-conference foes while performing at a much lower level against SEC opponents.

Hayes notes that Ainge and Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill are vastly overrated heading into 2007, while Rice QB Chase Clement and Arizona State running back Ryan Torain are vastly underrated. All posted big numbers in 2006 but, as Hayes explains: "look closely at the numbers, everyone. It's easy to see who deserves the love and who doesn't."

Here's what Hayes has to say about the Vols' senior quarterback:


Erik Ainge, QB, Tennessee

An overused story heard throughout the SEC last season was the "reclamation" of Ainge under new coordinator David Cutcliffe. Now, a dose of reality. In seven conference games, Ainge threw for 1,516 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions. In nonconference games, he passed for 1,473 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating against conference opponents was 129.74 (a middle to low rating) vs. 185.75 (an elite rating) in nonconference games.

Which games mean more? Ask Phil Fulmer.

To view Hayes' complete article, go to, then click on the college football link.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories