Prior to the 2004 college football season, the Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only college football quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting; therefore, it is presented annually following the completion of the bowl season.
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Alabama star Mac Jones has been selected as the 2020 winner of the Manning Award, presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top quarterback in the nation. The Manning Award, now in its 17th year, was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration the candidates’ bowl and playoff performances in its balloting. The award is voted on by a panel of local and national media, as well as each of the Mannings.
“It was quite a year for Mac Jones and the Alabama football team,” said Archie Manning. “We had a lot of outstanding quarterbacks around the country, but I don’t think any player directed his offense as efficiently and as effectively as Mac. The Crimson Tide’s performance all year was so impressive; and seeing them roll to wins in the Rose Bowl and the CFP Championship really showed what an amazing team they have put together. And a lot of credit for that goes to Mac, who bided his time before taking over and showing the country what he could do.
“On behalf of the entire Manning family, we would like to once again thank the Sugar Bowl Committee for its generous and ongoing support of the Manning Award. The Bowl’s role in making this award possible each year is greatly appreciated.”
Jones, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., led Alabama to a perfect 13-0 record and the 18th national championship in program history. The Crimson Tide became the first team to win 11 SEC games in one season, including a 52-46 victory over Florida in the SEC Championship game. They posted an impressive 31-14 win over Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff (CFP) Semifinal at the Rose Bowl and then dominated Ohio State, 52-24, to win the CFP National Championship in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Jones led the nation and set the Alabama single-season record by passing for 4,500 yards in 2020. His five 400-plus yard passing performances in 2020 are the most by any Crimson Tide quarterback for a career and also set the SEC single-season record. He also led the nation in passer rating (203.06) and in total QBR (96.1) while connecting on 44 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
“The Alabama football program had another memorable season this year and the performance of Mac Jones at quarterback had much to do with that,” said Ralph Capitelli, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “We are honored to recognize him as the winner of the Manning Award as the best quarterback in the country this year. We thank our voting panel for being a part of the honor and we also thank Archie and his family for being so involved in this award. We hope to have the opportunity to present this honor to Mac in person at a later date.”
After an outstanding regular season, Jones, one of four team captains for the Crimson Tide, truly rose to the occasion in the postseason. In the CFP National Championship win over Ohio State, the Tide signal-caller closed his collegiate career by completing 36-of-45 passes for a career-best 464 yards – that total is also the record for CFP Championship games. His five TD passes matched the CFP Championship record. In the Playoff Semifinal win over Notre Dame, Jones was also exceptional, completing 25-of-30 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Those CFP efforts followed a 418-yard, 5-TD effort in the SEC Championship victory over Florida.
Jones played some of his best football against top competition. In six games against ranked opponents in 2020, he completed 156-of-203 passes (76.8%) for 2,333 yards and 27 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
Off the field, Jones has earned a pair of degrees from Alabama. In December of 2019, he completed his undergraduate degree in business communications and then last month, he finished his master’s degree in sports hospitality.
Other finalists for this year’s Manning Award were: Ian Book (Notre Dame), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Dillon Gabriel (UCF), Sam Howell (North Carolina), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina), Brock Purdy (Iowa State), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Kyle Trask (Florida) and Zach Wilson (BYU).
In addition to the Manning Award’s yearly honor, each week during the regular season, eight quarterbacks are recognized as Manning Quarterbacks of the Week. Seventy-three players from 66 different schools were honored during the 2020 season and 424 different quarterbacks from 129 schools have been recognized since 2011.
In its first 17 years, the Manning Award has recognized the top names in college football. It has honored quarterbacks from 13 different schools and from four different conferences. The Southeastern Conference (Jones, Joe Burrow, Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, JaMarcus Russell and Tim Tebow) leads the way with six Manning Award honorees, while the Big 12 Conference (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Vince Young, Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III) has had five winners. The Atlantic Coast Conference (Deshaun Watson twice, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston) has had four Manning Award winners. LSU (Burrow and Russell), Oklahoma (Murray and Mayfield) and Texas (McCoy and Young) are the only schools with two different winners.
Statistically, the Manning Award has seen a wide-range of quarterbacks. Fourteen of the Manning Award men threw for over 3,000 yards in their winning campaign, including 4,000-yard seasons from Burrow, Griffin III, Jones, Marcus Mariota, Mayfield, Murray, Ryan, Watson (twice) and Winston. On the other hand, Manziel, Murray, Newton, Watson (in 2015) and Young were all 1,000-yard rushers during their Manning years.
Perhaps most impressive among the statistics of the quarterbacks recognized by the Manning Award is touchdowns scored. Twelve of the winners accounted for over 40 touchdowns during their successful seasons – Burrow’s 65 touchdowns (60 passing, five rushing) broke Mariota’s record (58 in 2014) for touchdowns by a Manning Award winner.
One of the more unique aspects of the Manning Award is the fact that it takes account of the quarterbacks’ bowl performances, in addition to the regular season. Fourteen of the 17 Manning Award winners won bowl games during the season they won the honor. Twelve Manning Award honorees led their teams to the CFP Semifinals or a BCS Championship game appearance (Burrow, Jones, Matt Leinart, Mariota, Mayfield, McCoy, Murray, Newton, Tebow, Watson, Winston and Young). Eight won national championships (Burrow, Jones, Leinart, Newton, Tebow, Watson, Winston and Young).
Previous Manning Award winners have also factored prominently in the NFL Draft as they all heard their names called on Draft Day. Six honorees were selected No. 1 overall (Burrow, Mayfield, Murray, Newton, Russell and Winston), while four others went No. 2 or No. 3 (Griffin, Mariota, Ryan and Young).
All the Manning Award winners follow in the footsteps of the Mannings themselves. In college, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning combined for over 25,000 passing yards and 201 touchdowns while playing in 10 bowl games and earning four bowl MVP awards. Archie was the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, while both Peyton and Eli were selected No. 1 overall.